Mahiyanganaya is a town situated close to the Mahaweli River in Badulla District, Uva Province of Sri Lanka. It is said that the Lord Gautama Buddha visited Mahiyanganaya on the full moon Poya day of January in order to settle a dispute arose between Yakkas and Nagas (two tribes then inhabited this area) and this was his first ever visit to Sri Lanka. Then the Lord Buddha preached Dhamma to Sumana Saman, a leader in this area, to whom the Lord Buddha gave a handful of his hair relic so that people could worship. After that Sumana Saman (now the God Sumana Saman) built a golden chethiya in which the sacred hair relic was deposited. Later on about seven chethiyas were built over the original golden chethiya from time to time, the last one being built by the King Dutugemunu. As such, this historic town is a very sacred place for Buddhists.
Anyway, the majority of the people in this fertile area are engaged in paddy cultivation being the main economic activity.
Mahiyangana is a Pali word (in Sinhalese Bintenna) which means flat land. It is situated eastwards to the steep eastern falls of central hills. The relative flatness of the area can be seen while traveling on the road from Kandy to Padiyathalawa across Hunnasgiriya and famous 18 hairpin bends.
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Mahiyangana, Sri Lanka. It is believed to be the site of Gautama Buddha's first visit to the country, and is one of the Solosmasthana, the 16 sacred religious locations in Sri Lanka.
Historical sources, including the ancient chronicle Mahavamsa, record that the Buddha visited the Mahiyangana area in the ninth month after he attained enlightenment, which was his first visit to the country. According to the Mahavamsa, Sri Lanka was inhabited byyakshas at the time. It says that the Buddha subdued the yakshas there and held a discourse on Dhamma with them. They were then sent to an island named Giri so that the country would be "purified" and Buddhism could be established there later on, where it would prevail "in all its glory".
A Yakka chieftain named Saman (who is now regarded as a deity) attained Sotapanna (Sovan) after listening to the Buddha's discourse, and asked for a token from the Buddha that they could worship in his absence. The Buddha had given him a handful of hair from his head, which Saman later enshrined in a small stupa, 10 feet (3.0 m) in height. This was the first stupa to be built in Sri Lanka.
After the parinirvana of the Buddha in 543 BC, an Arahant named Sarabhu brought the Buddha's left clavicle bone, which had been recovered from the funeral pyre. This relic was also enshrined within the same stupa, which was enlarged to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m).
Several kings have since renovated and enlarged this stupa, including Dutthagamani who raised it to a height of 120 feet (37 m). Other rulers such as Voharika Tissa, Sena II,Vijayabahu I and Kirti Sri Rajasinha have carried out repairs and maintenance work at the temple. In 1942, a society was formed for the renovation of the temple under D. S. Senanayake. Reconstruction work began in 1953 and ended in 1980 with the completion of a new pinnacle for the stupa.