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Japanese Peace Pagoda

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(located on the back boundary of Villa Baywatch) Peace Pagoda (known as Saama Chitya in Sinhala) is built on a raised platform in the shape of a bubble.  A flight of wide steps leads up to the stupa itself and there is a walkway round the stupa. There are wonderful views of the sea and the surrounding area from the walkway and at sunset this view is truly magnificent. The Peace Pagoda is visible from the sea and this was the intention of the builders who wanted to proclaim Sri Lanka as a Buddhist nation to those arriving to the country by sea.

1515023_619177224786291_694857342_nBuilt with the help of the Japanese monks, the peace pagoda on Rumassala Hill is one of the three Buddhist stupas in Sri Lanka. Stupas are monuments that serve as beacons of peace for people of all nationalities and creeds, and the clean , rounded design of the Rumassala Peace pagoda exemplifies this.

Japanese Peace Pagoda

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Four gold painted statues of the Buddha facing in each direction depicting his birth, enlightenment and attainment of parinibbana are in shaded alcoves.

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History

A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace. Most (though not all) have been built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan – Myohoji Buddhist Order. Fujii was greatly inspired by his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 and decided to devote his life to promoting non-violence. In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World peace

The first Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of world war 11. By 2000, eighty Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States. The Peace Pagoda was awarded the Courage of Conscience award June 5, 1998 in Sherborn, MA

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There are some charming legends concerning Unawatuna and how the village’s name is associated with the rocks rising at the west end of the beach. The rocky outcrop, looking strangely out of place in the landscape, is known as Rumassala, and is famous for its herbs.

One legend is from the epic Indian poem, the Ramayana, when Prince Rama and his warrior brother Lakshman were fighting the demon-king Ravana of Lanka who had abducted Rama’s wife, Princess Sita. Lakshman was wounded in battle while trying to rescue the abducted Princess Sita, so Rama sent Hanuman, the monkey god, to the Himalayas to find and bring back the four herbs necessary to save his brothers life – mritasanjeevani, vishalyakarani, suvarnakarani, and sandhani. But by the time he arrived he had forgotten their description, so he brought back a fragment of the Himalayas containing many herbs twisted in his tail, in the hope that among them might be the correct ones. However, on his way back to the battlefield, the mountain fragment slipped and fell while Hanuman was over Lanka, and it broke into three pieces. These landed in different locations, one of which was Rumassala. The name ‘Unawatuna’ derives its name from the Singhalese words, Onna-wetuna, which translates into “there it fell”. Over a period of time, Onna-wetuna became ‘Unawatuna’. So it is that the name Unawatuna translates to, ‘there is fell’ or ‘it fell down’.

Rumassala Kanda is filled with a great variety of unusual vegetation and protected valuable medicinal herbs not found anywhere else in the area, making this story seem mysteriously possible. Indeed, as many people believe that Rumassala is a fragment of the holy mountains, sanyasis search here for the plant sansevi or the Tree of Life, which is said to give immortality.

You can walk along the paths through the jungle that covers Rumassala to the top of the hill where an edifice is being built by Japanese monks of the Mahayana sect – along with a statue of Hanuman. From here, there are wonderful views across to Galle Harbour and on a clear day you can see Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak). It is also a good place for bird watching with over 60 endemic species to be seen.
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