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Kiri Vehera, Kataragama Overview

The Kiri Vehera is also known as 'the milk stupa', is situated at Kataragama is one of the sixteen sacred places which had been visited by Buddha Shakyamuni. The Kiri Vehera depicts a beautiful relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism. The relationship between Buddha Shakyamuni and Lord Murugan facilitated a peaceful coexistence between Buddhist and Hindu devotees in the region. The stupa is in the garden of the Kihir trees, which was known as Kihir Vehara. However, later for convenience and ease of pronunciation, the name was changed to Kiri Vehara.

Kiri Vehera is one of the most famous Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country. The stupa is said to have been built by King Mahasena, a regional ruler of Kataragama area in the 6th Century. The stupa is 95ft in height and has a circumference of 800m is a peaceful place visited by many Buddhists to meditate. All this makes it a must visit place for the blessings of Buddha, and it inspires peace and tolerance among the different people belonging to different faiths and religions.

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Legend and History of Kiri Vehera

Legend of the stupa dates back to 580 BCE when Gautama Buddha after attaining enlightenment visited the kingdom of Mahagama which was ruled by the King Mahasena. After listening to the principles of Dharma from Buddha, King Mahasena achieved the stage of 'sovan' or the first stage of spiritual eminence. Buddha then gave the King a lock of his hair and a sword which was used to cut it, when he renounced the worldly pleasures.

It was after this meeting that the King Mahasena built a stupa on the spot where Buddha sat to commemorate his visit and also to preserve the lock of hair, sword and golden throne which was used by Buddha to deliver his teachings. It was also after this that King Mahasena swore to protect the teachings of Buddhism.

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