The Fa-Hien Cave in Kalutara, Sri Lanka, is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and here’s more on what you should know before you head there.
Planning Your Trip
This cave can be found in the coastal city of Kalutara which is around a 90-minute drive from the commercial capital. An ideal option would be to stay at a beachside hotel like Turyaa Kalutara which offers an ideal base for your visit to this attraction in the village of Yatagampitiya. There’s a road for vehicles leading up to the cave, though you can walk up some stone steps to reach it as well.
The Story of Fa-Hien
Before you visit from one of the nearby hotels in Kalutara, it helps to find out about this site. For example, its name is taken from a Chinese Buddhist monk known as “Fa- Hsien”. It’s believed that this monk visited the island in the fifth century and during his journeys, came across this cave. It is also said that he stayed here for several months, and some maintain that a vessel found during excavations belonged to him.
This site also goes by the name of Pahiyangala Cave linked to a significant archaeological finding. It was here that archaeologists uncovered one of Asia’s oldest prehistoric human settlements and the remains of the Pahiyangala Man, a cave dweller at that time; according to carbon dating, the remains which included human skulls were around 37,000 old! Additionally, animal bones and stone weapons were also uncovered.
What to Expect
Fa-Hien Cave reaches a height of around 175 feet and has a length of approximately 200 feet making it one of Asia’s largest natural rock formations. While not all areas of this site are open to the public, you can see an excavation pit dug by the nation’s archaeological department. Also of interest is a Buddhist temple which can be found here along with a reclining Buddha statue measuring about 40 feet in length. After your exploration, you can relax and have a picnic nearby, a great way to end your visit.