Tissamaharama town on the Kirinda road, Nimalawa Aranya Senasanaya is a branch of Kalyana Yogashrama Sanstha.
Dating back over two millennia, the history of Nimalawa Aranya Senasanaya is long, rich and steeped in the Buddhist tradition. Roughly 2200 years ago, thousands of great Arahaths took to this as a dwelling. Stone inscriptions, caves, and ponds that remain preserved to the date bear testimony to its much hallowed existence in the bygone era. It’d then be collectively referred to as the ‘Holy Land of Ruhuna’.
One particular stone inscription makes a specific reference to a grandson of King Mahanaga, who is believed to be King Kawantissa. Another stone inscription gives cogent proof to the fact that Thalaguru Wehera where Arhath Dhammadinna used to reside in, is, in fact, Nimalawa Aranya.
As the bhikkus (monks) began to leave it owing to famine and other natural disasters, the forest would encroach upon the monastery premises inch by inch. Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Rev. Kadawedduwa Sri Jinawansa Thera, the monastery was reconstructed and restored to its former glory. The reconstruction work drew to its conclusion by the end of the year 1950. With Rev. Kadawedduwa Sri Jinawansa Thera as the chief prelate, the monastery was occupied by Mathara Sri Gnanarama Thera and five other Bhikkhus. Three new chambers – Meththa, Karuna and Dhamma Vichaya – were also built on site.
Today, Nimalana Aranya Senasanaya is one of the bestknown forest monasteries in the country, complete with a vihara, Akasa pagoda, library, Bo tree, etc. Moreover, it consists of 16 caves including the Maharambhaka cave – which is believed to be the cave Arhath Dhammadinna used as the chamber. The monastery and its occupant monks are held in such high esteem that a dayaka (an almsgiver of sorts) has to be in the waiting list for two years to get an opportunity to offer alms. There are more than 750 dayakas.
The Nimalawa Sanctuary – a total of 1065.85 hectares – adjoining the Yala National Park, is home to a myriad of wildlife. The Night Jar, Deer, Sambur and Wild Boar are pretty much common around here. But life isn’t quite easy for either people or wildlife in and around Nimalawa due to the inherent arid climate the area experiences.