Renowned for its murals of the Kandyan Sittara art, “Gangarama Raja Maha Viharaya” is attributed to King Kirti Sri Rajasinhe (1747 – 1781). The temple is named “Gangarama” due to its location near the great Mahaweli river in Lewella.
A rock inscription in this temple describes the Building of the temple by the King:
“When Kirti Sri having being inaugurated king of Lanka noticed a stone statue of ancient date, in a rock lying in the palmyra garden and caused a viharaya to be made containing stone walls of 13 cubits in length 7 in breadth and 11 in height surrounded by stone pillars and above a roof with rafters covered with tiles. Within the walls a stone image of 9 cubits in height was made, beautified its robe with vermillion painting, covered its different members with golden leaves painted around with paintings of five hues and completed it after enshrining it with relics.
In the year 1752 AD when all the work of the supremely magnificent image of Buddha variegated with golden workmanship were completed in the viharaya, bearing the appellation of Gangaramaya two eyes were affixed to the image with great solemnity, rejoicing and excessive offerings, and then satisfied the workmen by giving then appropriate gifts”
According to this inscription this location has been already a place of veneration with a Image of Buddha by the time King Kirti Sri Rajasinhe (1747 – 1781) built the temple. Gangarama was earlier associated with the educational activities of Velivita Sri Saranankara Thero.
The paintings in this temple depicts scenes of Buddha in this birth and of Jataka Stories. Even today they are valued as excellent examples Kandyan Sittara Art. The decorated eave tiles with the lion symbol, the high roof structure and above all the large standing figure of the Buddha 27 feet height surrounded by walls of paintings, speak for the artistic and religious of the Kings of that day.
By Central Cultural Fund
The Treasure Troves of Lewella
The Gangaramaya temple can be reached along the Lewella road.
The temple is attributed to the service of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747 -1781 AD), A rock inscription says that “When Kirti Sri having being inaugurated king of Lanka noticed a stone statue of ancint date, in a rock lying in the palmyrah garden and caused a viharaya to be made containing stone walls of 13 cubits in length 7 in breadth and 11 in height surrounded by stone pillars and above a roof with rafters covered with tiles……………..”
From outside the modest high roofed building with its simple fringe of decorative clay tiles with the lion symbol is deceptive of the treasures it hides within. The festooned and painted door way opens into a small shrine room, dominated by a large standing figure of the Lord Buddha 27 feet high. The walls around this are covered with paintings giving a some what geometrical appearance of murals in frames. Their very red backgrounds for ever reminding us of the valuable depictions of Kandyan sittara art. The scene showing the offering of milk rice by the lay devotee Sujata to the Bodhisattva and the floating of the plate used at the dhana is recognized as an unique depiction.
- Kandy – The Last Kingdom of Sinhale
- Ancient Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka
- Other Places of Interest Within Close Proximity
Map of the Lewella Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya
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.
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Driving Directions to Lewella Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya
Route from Colombo to Gangaramaya Raja Maha Vihara
Route from Kandy to Gangaramaya Raja Maha Vihara
|Though : Kandy Road – Hewaheta Road – Lewalla Road
distance : 122 km
Travel time : 4 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
|Though : Hewaheta Road – Lewalla Road
distance : 6 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map
first published :July 8, 2007