PHOTO: S.Ichih 8 1'25.47" 8031'30.81"

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What may be called one of the wonders of the world is the tall, standing statue of the Buddha at Aukana, another architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese. The rock cut statue which stands 39 feet above its decorated lotus plinth and 10 feet across the shoulders, belongs to the period of King Dhatusena (459-477 AD), the builder of the great reservoir Kalawewa. It has been very well preserved over the years and is a joy for anyone to see and appreciate. It is a unique creation by an unknown sculptor. The description in ‘The Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller’ gives a vivid picture of the Avukana statue: The best time of the day to view this statue is dawn. The first rays of the morning sun bring out the rich hues of the rock image and makes it seem to come alive against the deep green of the trees beyond. As the sun rises higher it reveals the serenity of the exquisitely carved face: rising higher still, the sunlight picks out the gracefully carved robe, each pleat of which is a triumph of art. Not far from Avukana, just seven miles away as the crow flies, is another tall statue at Sasseruva. The two statues are believed to have been the work of a ‘guru - gola’ (master and pupil) team. There is an interesting tale behind the construction of the two statues. The completion of either masterpiece was to be signalled by the ringing of a bell.