Ridi Viharaya - රිදී විහාරය
Ridi Viharaya lies about 20 kilometres away from the ancient kingdom
of Kurunegala in a small village called Ridi Gama. This temple is believed
to be built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd centaury BC as a memorial to
the place where he found a silver (ridi) ore mine which was used to finance
the building of the gigantic
The great chronicle Mahavamsa describes the discovery of this mine by
.... In a southerly direction from the city, at a distance of eight
yojanas, silver appeared in the Ambatthakola-cave. A merchant from
the city, taking many wagons with him, in order to bring ginger
and so forth from Malaya, had set out for Malaya. Not far from the
cave he brought the wagons to a halt and since he had need of wood
for whips he wetit up that mountain. As he saw here a branch of a
bread-fruit-tree, bearing one single fruit as large as a water pitcher,
and dragged down by the weight of the fruit, he cut the (fruit) which
was lying on a stone away from the stalk with his knife, and thinking:
`I will give the first (produce as alms),' with faith he announced
the (meal) time.
And there came thither four (theras) who were free from the asavas.
When he had greeted them gladly and had invited them with all reverence
to be seated, he cut away the rind around the stalk with his knife
and tore out the bottom (of the fruit), and pouring the juice which
filled the hollow forth into their bowls he offered them the four
bowls filled with fruit-juice. They accepted them and went their way.
Buddha Statue along with the Makara Thorana and the deities inside Waraka
Then he yet again announced the (meal) time. Four other theras,
free from the asavas, appeared before him. He took their alms-bowls and
when he had filled them with the kernels of the bread-fruit he gave them
back. Three went their way, but one did not depart. In order to
show him the silver he went further down and seating himself near the
cave he ate the kernels.
When the merchant also had eaten as he wished
of the kernels that were left, and had put the rest in a bundle,
he went on, following the track of the thera, and when he saw
the thera he showed him the (usual) attentions. The thera opened
a path for him to the mouth of the cavern: `Go thou now also on this
path, lay brother!' When he had done reverence to the thera he went
that way and saw the cave. Standing by the mouth of the cave and seeing
the silver he struck upon it with his axe, and when he knew it to be
silver he took a lump of the silver and went to his freight-wagons.
Then leaving the wagons behind and taking the lump of silver with him
the excellent merchant went in haste to Anuradhapura and told the king
of this matter, showing him the silver. ....
Buddha Statue inside Waraka Weladu Viharaya
As a gesture of gratitude The king decided to build a temple on
the same ground and sent over 300 stone craftsmen to work on the temple.
He also got a large gold plated Buddha statue to be bought from Dambadiva,
India to be kept at the site. According to the the ancient book called "ridi
when the king Dutugemunu was coming to the competed temple with the
Buddha Statue brought from india, the cart got stuck between some rocks
and couldn't be moved. The king disappointed, sat on the rock refusing
to move until the cart is moved. Arhath Indragupta Thero ( the same
thero who showed the merchant the way to the silver mine) saw this and
made the statue to float in the sky and travel through air all the way
to the temple.
this 2200 year old statue can be seen at the very spot that the silver
ore was found inside the pahatha maluwa protected by a glass casing.
Although this area belongs to Kurunegala District, this area was part
of the Kandian Kingdom during European occupation and King Kirthi Sri Rajasainha
has made major renovations on this temple. Therefore most of the paintings
and statues we see today belong to the Kandian Era.
'Waraka Veladu Viharaya'
Waraka Weladu Viharaya
On the way to the main cave you will come across a curious image house
built entirely of stone. This is called the 'Waraka Veladu Viharaya'
which translates to 'the temple where Jack Fruit was consumed'. It is
said that that this was the cave which the Indragupta Maha Thero consumed
the Jack-Fruit ( called bread-fruit in Mahavamsa translation) which
was offered by the Merchant. Inside this image house is
a seated buddha statue and all the walls have Buddhist paintings belonging
to the Kandian Era.
The ancient paintings on Waraka Weladu Viharaya
The design of this building strangely resembles a Devala ( dedicated
to Hindu Gods). There is also a hallway to enter the shrine similar to
Devala Design. The 8 stone pillars holding the main roof of the hallway
have carvings of female dancers which is not generally found in the Buddha
image houses. Therefore it could be that this building was built during
a period where the Hindu beliefs were strongly present in the country
such as the Polonnaruwa Era or Kandian Era.
Passing this image house you would enter a entrance hall of the main
vihara complex. Here you would see a massive arms bowl which is said
to have been used for Buddha Puja in the ancient times.
Passing this you would enter the Main Vihara complex which is divided
in to two. The lover one is called the 'Maha Vihare' ( the main
temple) or 'Pahala Vihare' ( lower temple) and the upper is called the
'Uda Vihare' ( the upper temple). The Maha Vihare was constructed by
the king Dutugemunu in the 2nd centaury BC and the Uda Vihare has been
constructed by King Kirthi Sri Rajasainha (1747 - 1781) .
Inside the main cave temple
The maha vihare is located inside a spacious rock cave and contains
a 9m recumbent Buddha image and the original gold plated Buddha Image
donated by King Dutugemunu. At the feet of recumbent Buddha image there
is a statue of Ananda Thero, a statue of a Maithree Bodhi Sattva and
then statues of some Devatha. It is believed that the last statue of
Devatha is actually a statue of King Dutugemunu. After these is a row
of 5 buddha statues which is said to have been originally gold plated.
A christian tile on the main flower pedestal
The flower pedestal of the recumbent Buddha image also has a very curious
feature. It is decorated with about two hundred 18th centaury Dutch tiles
portraying the life of Christ popularly known as bible tiles. These
are believed to have beeen presented to King Kirthi Sri Rajasainha (1747
- 1781) by a Dutch Governor who in turn donated it to the temple. From
the way these tiles are are arranged, the tiler seems to be clueless
of the pictures on the tiles.
The roof of the cave
is plastered and painted with various patterns. During the poson season
of 2008, a large area of this plaster has fallen off due to heat generated
by the large number of pilgrims inside of the cave.
Pancha Naari Getaya
Ivory carving of Pancha Nari Gataya
Entrance to the Uda Vihare is through a side door in the Maha Vihare.
here you will pass a protected door frame decorated with ivory carvings.
Door frames decorated with ivory is an extreamly rare feature for ancient
buildings. This door has been subject to vandalism and and the lower
parts of the ivory is now missing. At the top centre of the decorations
is what looks like a vase but closer inspection reveals its a carving
of 5 females interwoven together. This design is called "Pancha Naari
of five women entwined in the shape of a pot). Beside this is a carving
of 2 lions. Around theseare fragments of the ivory designs which covered
the rest of the frame.
Nari Gataya and other ivory carvings on the main door
The uda vihare believed to be built by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe consists
of three chambers and a connecting corridor.
The first chamber is dedicated to deity who protects the mountain of
Ridi Vihara. He is called "Kumara Bandara Deviyo" The second
which is the largest is the Buddha Image house. In addition to the large
seated buddha image this hall contains some curious and unique drawings.
These drawings are not on walls but on the sides of the pedestal of
the seated Buddha. On the left side is a picture of 3 lions who share
one head. This is called "Tri Singha" drawing. On the other
side of the seat is another unique drawing called "Vrushaba Kunjaraya"which
the entwined heads of the bull and the elephant. On the same pedestal
you can see 3 pictures of soldiers with arms. These are believed to be
a depiction of Rama and Ravana war.
The massive rice bowl which is said to have been used for Budda Puja in the ancient
At the end of the cave, outside the shrine room, there is a painting
"Navanari Kunjaraya" , the figures of nine women arranged in such a way, to
create the image of an elephant .
The temple has two stupa's. One beside a cave behind the Uda Maluwa.
The other is on a altogether separate hill called "Sarasum Gala".
To reach the Sarasum Gala stupa you need to climb a separate set of
granite stairs. It is believed the original temple was located around
Travel Directions to Ridi Vihara
The Ridi Vihara is about 20 km from the Kurunegala Town. Travel on the
Kandy Road from Kurunegala up to Mallawapitiya junction. This is about
5km form the Kurunegala town. Turn off to Keppitigala Road and Travel
another 15 km along this road. You will come across the junction where
route to the Viharaya is clearly marked. Travel about 1 1/2 km along
this road to reach the Temple.
By traveling further on the Keppitigala Road for 5 km, you will come
across Kurunegala Rambadagalla
Vihara which is current creating the largest rock carved Samadhi
Statue of the World
Route from Colombo to Ridi Vihara
Route from Kurunegala to Ridi
Through : Kelaniya - Ambepussa -
Kurunegala - Mallawapitiya - Ridigama
Distance : 116 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours.
Driving directions : see
on google map
Through : Kurunegala - Mallawapitiya
Distance : 21 km
Travel time : 30 minutes.
Driving directions : see
on google map
Created June 14, 2009
November 6, 2012