Ironwood Grove Forest Monastery
Believed to be one of the first monasteries outside the Kingdom of Anuradhapura that goes all the way back to the 3rd century BC, to the reign of King Uttiya, the Na Uyana Aranya Senasanaya (also known as the Ironwood Grove Forest Monastery) is a place of peace and solitude, while also being a place of immense cultural significance, especially during the ancient Kingdom of Anuradhapura.
Neglect and Rediscovery
Located approximately 50 minutes away from Dambulla, and spreading over 5000 acres of forest on the Dummiya Mountain Range, the monastery is home to about 150 resident monks. Interestingly, although the monastery dates back to the 3rd century BC, the monastery was abandoned for thousands of years, due to the many invasions and turbulent times of the kingdoms that came after Anuradhapura, and was only rediscovered in the 1950s by Ven. Wigoda Bodhirakkhita Thera, which has now become a major place for meditation for both, locals and foreigners.
Why You Should Visit
This unique monastery is so large that it is divided into 4 sections, namely the Pansiyagama section, Mountain section, Matale section, and Andangala section. Each of these sections have living quarters known as kutis that are simple shelters for meditators and monks. You could opt to either go on an adventure to climb the Dummiya Mountain Range, or you could escape from the everyday mundane by partaking in a meditation programme conducted by the resident monks.