May 12, Colombo: The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J. Sison toured the Rajagala Buddhist monastery archeological site with Department of Archaeology senior officials on May 9, 2014, the Embassy said in a release.
Expert conservation work at this heritage site is being performed with a grant of 13 million rupees ($100,000) from the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation. The U.S. Embassy awarded this grant to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2013 and is working closely with the University and the Department of Archeology on the project.
In touring the forest-monastery site, Ambassador Sison noted that "The U.S. Embassy is proud to partner in this project so we can help forge a better understanding of Sri Lanka's proud, unique heritage and history. It is truly an honor to be able to participate in such valuable work."
Ven. Dambara Amila Thero - Senior Lecturer, Sri Jayewardenepura University, U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison, Dr. N.L.A. Karunaratne, Vice Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Professor P.B. Mandawala, Sri Jayewardenepura University, at the 30-foot reclining Buddha statue, one of the highlights of the Rajagala forest mediation site.
Rajagala, located in the Ampara District in the Eastern Province, is not only significant as an ancient Buddhist monastery complex; it is also one of the rarest archeologically-untouched sites in Sri Lanka.
The 400-hectare Buddhist monastic complex was constructed between the years 119 and 109 B.C. but abandoned around 993 A.D. and suffered gradual deterioration since that time. It was "re-discovered" in an archaeological survey in 1890.
The U.S. grant will help identify, conserve and restore about eighty different types of monuments, including stupas, an uposathagra (building devoted to religious observances), hot water bath house, refectory, and other structures. Work began in late 2013 and will continue through 2017.
Since its creation in 2001 by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation has awarded 9 grants in Sri Lanka, totaling $483,352. The program has provided financial support to more than 600 cultural preservation projects in over 100 countries amounting to a contribution of $26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide.
The U.S. Embassy will soon be accepting nominations for 2015 cultural preservation assistance and encourages organizations to contact the American Center for details: firstname.lastname@example.org.