Situated in the Hambanthota District, Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya has also being called Chiththala Pabbatha in the ancient texts. Stone Inscriptions has identified this location as “Chithala Paawatha Vehera”. This temple complex is attributed to King Kavanthissa who ruled southern Sri lanka in the 6 century.
Sithulpawwa is known as a location where thousands of Arhaths lived at one time. According to folklore it is said that a novice monk called Thissa who has reached the state of Arhath lived here and later a stupa was built encasing his remains thus this also has been known as Tissa Thera Chetiya.
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya contains large number of stupas, cave temples, Buddha statues a stupa house and image houses spread among a large land area. Among these there is a cave temple with ancient paintings thought to be dating back to the 3rd century BC. The main stupa has been built by flattening the top of a rocky mountain. There are two approaches to the stupa. Stone steps have been cut from the south and the north. The boundary walls of the maluwa area have been built using large rocks. Remains of many buildings can be seen on the Northern side of the stupa.
In addition to the main Sithulpawwa stupa another hill called the ‘Small Sithulpawwa ’ also contains similar stupa and buildings. Stupas have been built on each peak of this rocky mountain range and all these have been built in the Pre Christian Era.
A large amount of valuable items has been found from the excavations on this site including an exclusively made image of goddess Thara in a seating position and many Buddha statues. Two Statues of the Awalokeswara Bodisattva can be seen on the main cave temple. One of these is dressed as a royal and the other is plainly dressed as a sage.