Day 2 Arugam bay, Kudumbigala Monastery and Getting back to Batti highly recommends the following, well researched traveler’s report
from innovative “sinhalaya travels“.
Note their slogan: …..A? “it’s hardcore, maan”…..



After a short hiatus we are back withA?more onA?our backpacking venture. Expect more posts on more travels in the near future. You can also view a short grainy video of our stay at Aa??Bay here.

Day 2 saw us still at Arugam Bay and wondering what to do next. Consulting the trusty Lonely Planet Guide it was found that there is a rock monastery built in the middle of the jungle many centuries ago. The place is called Kudumbigala and further searching on the internet provided us with more information on it. Lonely Planet had never been thereA?due toA?the area being closedA?in times of war. Naturally, we jumped at the chance.

Getting to the Monastery

The monastery is located roughly 30Kms down the road south of Arugam Bay. The road heads fromA? Arugam Bay to Panama, which is about 16 kms away. We didnt stay to check out the sights at Panama because we were on bikes and had to hurry to have sufficient time to cover the distance.

From Panama, we took the Okanda road to Kudumbigala. This road was closed until recently due to the war so the land beyond is virtually deserted. The turn off to the Monastery is exactly 12 kms down this road. The terrain is rough and dry. And at the time, the lands were blasted by months of relentless hot sun. Ensure you take sunglasses, plenty of water and sunblock. If you are taking a jeep you can go cross country across the fields. We tried it on push bikes, but the land is a bit too rough for Lumalaa??s.

The road winds alternately through brackish forests and vast open plains. It is mostly level and flat. Perfect for biking. We took lumala a??cruisersa?? with a laid back riding positions. The total distance from Arugam bay to Kudumbigala and back is roughly 60 km. You can hope to hitch rides on Lorries in between Panama and Arugam Bay. But best be confident that yourA?body is upto the task of riding the whole way.

As you go further South, you begin to notice a change in scenery. You will start seeing massive rocks and thicker forests in the horizon. The huge clitoris shaped rock is where the monastery is located. At this point, you will have reached the sounthern-most edge of the East Coast. You are now venturing into the immediate vicinity of East Yala.

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At the 12km mark on the road, you will see a road leading off into the forest on your right. It is a dirt track and a signboard carries the monasterya??s name on it. Follow this road to the end.

The Kudumbigala Rock Complex Monastery

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The monastery itself is a sprawling complext of caves and buldings of beautiful and ancient looking architecture. Unlike other polupar locations of archialogical interest, Kudumbigala looks virtually untouched and rather wild. We spent a happy few hours exploring this vast complex. You can even come and stay here if the necessary police permission is obtained from Pottuvil or Panama. Bring your own food and other necessities. A?The lone monk we found near the top of the complex told us that free lodging (or meditation cells) can be provided to all comers.

There is an STF (Special Task Force)A?outpost at the foot of the rock complex upon which the Monastery is located. The soldiers are extremely friendly and are up for a chat.A?Fresh upA?by dousing yourself with some unbelieveably cool water from the well nearby. Beware of monkeys. The critters are everywhere and will snatch your unattended belongings if half a chance is presented.

Walk about and even meditate and spend some time in the rock complex. The atmoshpehere is extremely soothing and calm. The view from the top of its rocky peaks are awe inducing.

You can see right up to the coast in one direction and an endless expanse of rocky outcroppings and green canopy in another.A?Beware of wildlife. The area is said to be alive with bears, snakes and elephants.

Traveling at night exposed is probably not advisable.

Chilling at Aa??Bay

There really isna??t much to do at Aa??Bay itself off-season other than chill on the beach or take a leisurely walk down to the fields surrounding the town. Food can be gotten at many establishments along the main street. Food is nothing exceptional, except for a few guesthouses that serve some nice rice and curry dishes. If youa??re on a shoestring, you can go over to Aliraa??s placeA?on the sea side of the road. He has decent food for cheap prices.

At the time we vistited, nearly a year had gone by without and rain. Most of the local farmers have dry land which, at the time of year we were passing through, should have been covered with water.A?They were being employed by the government to rebuild/renovate the local roads. The only people we passed on the highways were the occasional groups of men and women laboring away in the heat.

Getting out of Aa??Bay

Getting yourself out of Arugam Bay on time might be a problem if you depend on public transport. The last bus that leaves from Pottuvil, the closest town (3km north), is at about 4:30pm. Due to this you might want to take the first bus out in the morning, which gets there around 5:20 and leaves at 5:30am.

Traveling by bus in the blistering heat isna??t something you want to willingly experience. The 5:30 bus, which we took on the third day, will get to Batti around 10:30am. You will pass many checkpoints on the way there. Something to note is that unlike in Colombo, not everyone gets off the bus when it gets to a checkpoint. Only those who are standing usually get out of the bus and stand in line to show their ID. If you do leave your seat to stretch your legs, be warned that some other dude is bound to steal your seat. We found this to be strange considering Sri Lankansa?? famed hospitality. But we put it down to post-war territory resolution problems.


8 Responses to “Day 2 Arugam bay, Kudumbigala Monastery and Getting back to Batti”

  • What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity about unexpected emotions.

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  • We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You have done a formidable job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

  • I think it was 2002 – my second visit to Arugam Bay as an aspiring buddhist, Rhanga’s daughter wrote me a letter which I took, was dropped off and kindly allowed to stay. My own cave dwelling and food and fear of the animals, trying to meditate and scale the huge rocks – I’ll never forget it, if only for a couple of nights. Magical

  • ranjith perera

    i am a good devotee of kudumbigala monastry.if someone need to go i can help. contact my email.(

  • Bhikkhu Seela

    Dear friends,
    I am a Buddhist monk living in USA. I would like to visit Kutumbigala Monastery at the end of this year to practice meditation for at least one month. If you have any person/friend with whome should I contact to undersand about this place, please give me his telephone number or email number. ( If I can contact with a monk appreciate it very much).
    Thanking you
    may the triple gem bless you!
    Bhikkhu Seela.

  • niranjan bandaranayake

    I visited Arugam bay/Pottuvil over 14-16 January weekend. I did not go to Kudumbigala or Okanda. I found this part of the country too remote for my liking. There is only one Government hospital in Pottuvil and no private hospitals for an emergency. It can be a problem at night if you need a doctor. I was told that medical facilities are poor. However, the Muhudu Maha Viharaya(Pottuvil), the Magul Maha Viharaya(Lahugala), Lahugala National Park and sand dunes(Pottuvil) are all very nice and worth a see. The road from Moneragala to Pottuvil is been carpeted and will be complete in a few months time.

  • I loved this report!
    Thanks for this insight!
    As an elderly expat, who has been living at Arugam Bay for many years, it even opened my eyes to the beauty of our nearby monastery! One of many great places around my chosen habitat which we obviously took for granted all those years.

    Only one statement we like to comment upon is, quote:
    “Lonely Planet had never been there due to the area being closed in times of war. Naturally, we jumped at the chance.”
    My response to this statement is:
    The Looney Planet was good, when it started, no doubt.
    Now there are a few more much better travel books around.
    The Internet will see to it, that PROPER and up-to-date traveler’s own reports replace this outdated ‘Bible of the budget traveler’.
    I am doing my level best assist that modern trend…..
    For many years this publication “Lonely Planet” has been nothing but a successful commercial money making enterprise.

    They make huge sums by the simple practice of mindless reprints, containing old and often nothing else but earlier entries.
    Very little is added which could be seen as a useful addition compared to the previous edition of this very much overpriced little book.
    Certainly no effort seem to be made by the visiting teams to discover new destinations.
    Of late, all the brainwashed L.P. disciples simply jump around the Mirissa-Ella-Arugam Bay triangle for no other reason but L.P. says so…
    Little in the way of proper research goes in these days.
    Specially not, if this mini journalistic achievement is somewhat connected to a little more than a free drink, food, accommodation and even the odd bribe from any of their own ‘Pet’ establishments. Where they apparently can’t wait to return to in style and quickly enough.
    As mentioned, I am a foreigner.
    I am well integrated and I am fully Living in Eastern Sri Lanka.
    Let me state here, now and again that I never, ever had any problem to travel to Okanda or indeed, anywhere around AbaY or on the entire East Coast, ever since 1977.
    The statement that the road was “Closed” for many years is simply UNTRUE.
    Specially for any visitor from abroad there never was a hint of a problem!
    Because I have been going ‘up and down’ with my friends and even young daughter every months or so during our ‘troubled’ years with no hindrance.
    I never hit it off with L.P.; never bought one of their books either, and we all here most certainly didn’t like their attitude.
    But I (as well as a German conservationist called Wolfgang) still offered to take them, any day, to Kudumbigala and Kumana- but they declined.
    They had other, more ‘pressing’ engagements no doubt; see above.
    Instead they described my little girl Leila as ‘An annoying little monkey’.
    To top the insult the Loonys told me, on their departure that “We are The Lonely Planet. We can MAKE or BREAK any business.”
    There is the door, mate – P*** off was my perhaps understandable, and I feel very suitable reply.
    Siam View Hotel
    Arugam Bay
    PS.: Sorry about the monkey when you drop to to see us…

  • I found your blog via Google while searching for village green golf course green bay wi, thank you for posting rugam bay, Kudumbigala Monastery and Getting back to Batti at Arugam Bay Information!

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