Monaragala Buddama Rajamaha Viharaya – බුද්දම රජමහා විහාරය

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Buddama is rural village lying off Siyambalanduwa and Wadinagala on  Ampara Road. The temple at the at the bottom of Buddamahela is set on a beautiful backdrop this temple complex with a history which can be traced back to the pre christian times.

An inscription at one of the drip ledges have been dated to a period between 3rd century BC to 1st century and history records donation of villages to the temple by the regional king Udaya I (883 – 896) of southern region,  creation of administrative divisions centered around the Buddama Temple by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) and renovations carried out by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781).

As you enter the temple you will see the pure white stupa which has been built recently surrounding the ancient stupa.

Next is the living quarters of the priests and on the right hand side is a drip ledge cave with a inscription just below the ledge. This is called ‘Heen Vihara” inscription and records the donation of the cave to the Sanga by a educator named Gupta, the grand son of village councilor Vasaba and the son of Sumana. Written in Old Sinhala language in early Brahmi Script, this inscription has been placed in a period between 3rd century BC and 1st century.

The third level of the temple consists of the ancient cave image house, Bo tree and number of drip ledge caves.  Unfortunately the image house was closed but after speaking to the head priest, an old gentleman came with us to open the image house.   A reclining Buddha statue occupies the length of the the image house belonging to the Kandyan Era. Once you enter the image house you could understand why the image house is kept locked. Almost all the statues has been vandalized by treasure hunters. The chest and the head of the large image has been destroyed and now filled with cement.

Two more clay Buddha statues at the head of the reclining Buddha also has been destroyed by treasure hunters and has been reconstructed. An unusually placed lion sculpture hiding behind the head of the main Buddha statue also can be seen with the original paint.

But the most unique feature of this site is the “Weli Peella“, a sand board equivalent of a blackboard used to teach letter writing in the ancient times. Built during Kandyan kingdom, this Weli Peella is one of the very few existing today and the only one in Uva Province. This Peela is 14 feet long, 2 feet high,  2’3” wide and made of a clay structure. A fine layer of white sand is spread on the top of this structure which lies inside a cave which would have served as the class room.

Based on information given by the same old gentleman, the original temple has been at the top of the Buddama Hela hill but due the difficulties faced by the layman to reach the temple, the current temple has been built at the bottom of the rock during the period of Kandyan Kingdom. About 20 more caves with drip ledges are said to be lying scattered on this hill. Some of them have inscriptions but none of them have been read.

It is believed that some of these caves have been used for teach various industries in the ancient times based on the names used even today. One such cave is called Ridi Lena ( Cave of Silver) which probably was a learning center for silver industry. Another called Waduge Lena ( Carpenter Cave) probably a training center on carpentry.

Unfortunately no formal study has been done on the caves surrounding the hill and not much restoration seems have taken place at cave temple and the ancient painting seems to be fading.

Also See

Map of Monaragala Buddama  Rajamaha Viharaya

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.


Driving Directions to Monaragala Buddama  Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Monaragala to Buddama  Rajamaha Viharaya

Though : Siyambalanduwa
distance : 53 km
Travel time : 1 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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