The Sinhala name 'Buduruwagala' translates roughly as "rock of Buddhist sculptures", which neatly sums up what the site is about. The complete rock face, with its seven carved figures, is shown in the photo at the top.
To give a better idea of scale, I have added a similar shot with a person standing in front of the rock ( - Eranda, a long-standing and good friend of ours, who is also a qualified guide). The central Buddha carving has an impressive height of over 15 metres.
The sculptures are thought to date from the 9th or 10th century. They were apparently 'lost' in the jungle for many years, known to just a few locals, and only rediscovered in the 1920s. Even after that they remained barely accessible for a long time.
Below is a close-up shot of the central statue.
The remains of stucco and what looks like orange paint can still be made out.
Traces of stucco and paint can be more clearly seen on the middle figure of the group of three to the left of the large statue.
The following photo shows the group on the right in more detail. The style of these carvings looks quite different to those on the other side.
There appears to be no single accepted theory as to whom precisely the different sets of figures represent, but there is general agreement that they belong to the Mahayana Buddhist school.
We found the site quite magical and I would strongly recommend a visit if you ever have the chance.
Our own journey there did not go altogether smoothly - we got caught in torrential rain and floods and actually suggested to our driver that we should turn back. He was quite careful and we did not think we were in any danger, but, as you often could not make out where the tarmac actually was, we were truly concerned that his fairly new car might get damaged. However, the driver himself wanted to see the statues and therefore pressed ahead despite the horrendous conditions. Miraculously, the downpours eased as we were getting close and by the time we reached the rock itself the rain stopped altogether.
Our route had taken us along the boundary fence of Udawalawe National Park, where we encountered this magnificent tusker.
There are a couple of fruit and vegetable stands by the roadside and the elephants have clearly found out that making an appearance on the opposite side provides a good chance of a few bananas and corn cobs being thrown over the fence.