Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota Rajamaha Viharaya – බෙන්තොට උඩකොටුව බෝධි සමීප රජමහා විහාරය

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Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota Rajamaha Viharaya

Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota Rajamaha Viharaya
photo by Олександр Головкін

Bentota is a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long Bentota Beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon. Eventhough this town now best known for its beaches, history of this town goes as far as 2nd century  BC and has been a central city in the Buddhist civilisation in Sri Lanka.

Three hundred meters passing the Bentara Bridge, there is a road to the left called Circular Road which goes around the horseshoe shaped river. Five ancient Buddhist temples can be found along this route.

  1. Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Rajamaha Viharaya
  2. Vanawasa Rajamaha Viharaya
  3. Bodhimalu Rajamaha Viharaya
  4. Galapatha Rajamaha Viharaya &
  5. Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya

Although now operating as five different temples, it is believed that these 5 temples had belonged to one large temple complex covering over 6 square kilometers in the the ancient past. Based on the archeological studies, this temple complex  has been found to be built by king Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) according to Mr. R. Ayrton, Commissioner of Archeology (1912-1913). During the reign of Polonnaruwa kingdom, all the five temples has been under the Galapatha Viharaya.

During the Portuguese occupation of the low country (1505 to 1658), this temple too faced the same fate of all other Buddhist temples in the coasted areas. Demolished and looted of all valuables by the Portuguese, this temple stayed hidden inside the jungles until it was re-discovered in mid 1800’s.

The Bodhi Sameepa Viharaya is the place where a secodary Bodhi Tree was located, Vanawasa Rajamaha Viharaya is where the Bikkus residential ‘Kuti’ were located, Bodhimaluwa Rajamaha Viharaya is where the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi was planted, the main image house was located at Galapatha Viharaya and Gene Rajamaha Viharaya is where the main Vehera (stupa) was located.

Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Rajamaha Viharaya is the first temple which you will come across on the circular road. 300 meters down this road, you will come across the notice board directing you to the temple. The site is located on a hillock near the river.

As you climb the hillock, you find a ancient Bodhi tree on the right. This is one of the Bodhi trees planted by king Devanampiyatissa on his mission to plant a Bodhi Tree every mile (gaowwa) from Anuradhapura to Kataragama. An interesting oddity of the this tree is one of the branches produces only white color leaves. This tree has miraculously escaped the vandalization and destruction by Portuguese. The temple was rediscovered after hundreds of years in 1834 and had been reconstructed.

The bronze statue in the image house is also an interesting artifact a visitor should see in this temple.

Also See

Travel Directions to Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Bentota Bridge up to Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota Rajamaha Viharaya

Through : Circular Road
Distance : <1 km
Time to spend : 30 mins
Travel time : 5 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

Map of Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Bentota 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.

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