Algama Sri Sangharaja Rajamaha Viharaya – අල්ගම ශ්‍රී සංඝරාජ රජමහා විහාරය

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The image house built by king Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe of the Algama Sri Sangharaja Rajamaha Viharaya
The image house built by king Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe of the Algama Sri Sangharaja Rajamaha Viharaya
Photo by : Milinda Huruggamuwa

Algama maintain lies in the village of Algama in the Kurunegala district and is about 100 meters high. The top of this hill is scattered with caves and ruins of an ancient aramic complex which is covered with forest today. Research has placed this aramic complex to the Anuradhapura era of the Sri Lankan history. Ruins of a dilapidated stupa and buildings on the southern slope of the mountain belonging to the same era has been discovered.

Today there are two Buddhist temples in on this mountain which has been built using the ancient dripledge caves. On the southern slope lies Sri Shailabimbaramaya also known as the Algama Kande Viharaya. This is a Bikkuni Aramaya today. On the eastern slopes lies Algama Sri Sangharaja Viharaya having a written history of about 300 years, from the Kandyan era.

According to the historic Algama Sannasa, this temple has been re built and granted to Weliwita Sri Saranankara  Sangaraja Thero along with agricultural land to maintain the temple by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 2341 BE (1797 CE).

It is said that when Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero was born,  it was foretold by the astrologers that this boy would be the king of the country if he stays as a layman or a leading Sangharaja if he enters priesthood. According to folklore it is said that the young Sri Saranankara Thero used live in the caves on this mountain to hide from the king.

The main image house of this temple has been built as two chambers using a large dripledge cave. The inner chamber lies inside the cave and the outer chamber is built by extending out of the cave with clay roof tiles connected to the cave.

The main entrance to the inner chamber is flanked by 2 guard figures carrying a sword in one hand. The statues are built on a 44 cm high platform and are 2.1 meters tall. The paintings around these clay statues and the wooden roof are somewhat decayed. The Dragons Arch above the entrance is damaged and only a part of the left side still survives.

As you enter in to the inner sanctum, on the left side of the entrance you will see a statue of a some noble. On the right hand side is a statue of Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero. This statue is 1.68m tall and 52 cm wide. Since this statue has been built during the period in which the maha thero was alive, it is believed that this statue would have been built to his likeness.

Inside the left wall of the inner chamber you will find 3 Buddha statues, a Samadhi statue flanked by two standing statues, all decorated with elaborate Dragons Arches (Makara Thorana).  The arch is 1.9 meters high and two human figures stand beside the arch. Six deities have been molded beside this dragon arch. On the left lies lies Siva with four hands with a white bull, then a deity with three faces and four hands by a bird presumably a peacock and then a unidentified deity. On the right lies another unidentified deity then Saman with four hands by a white elephant and lastly a statue of Vishnu.

Underneath this Makara Thorana stands a Samadhi statue on a 50 cm high pedestal. The statue is 87cm tall and 80 cm wide at knees. The headdress is 11cm tall.

The two standing statues and the Makara Thorana’s are almost identical. The left arch is 1.9 meters high and the design is similar to the center arch. Here only four deities are molded above the arches. One unique feature of these two arches are that the dragons are facing outward. In most dragon arches, the two dragons face upwards with the flames shooting out of their gaping mouths creating the arch. But in very rare instances you find the dragon facing towards you with a almost comical face. This temple is one such place where you will find such a dragons arch.

The standing Buddha statue underneath the arch is built in Vitarka Mudra posture. The statue is 1.27 meters tall and has a 10 centimeter headdress. The other Makara Thorana is 1.96 meters tall and the statue is 1.34 meters tall. The headdress is 11 cm high.

Right in front of the entrance, there are three Buddha statues, a Samadhi statue flanked by two standing Buddha statues in Vitarka Mudra. These statues lack the Makara Thoranas above them. On the other wall is another 1.77 meter high standing Buddha statue.

On the west side of this image house is small stupa. This has been vandalised by treasure hunters and the hole dug in to the stupa can be still seen. This has a diameter of 1.13 meters and has been built with large clay bricks. North to this stupa lies a small image house with an ancient Siripathul Gala ( carved footprint of Buddha) measuring 160×73 cm.  Siripathul Gala was used to represent Buddha and used as a object of worship before the time of Buddha statues.

North – West to this building lies the ancient Sangawasa. The adobe of Bikkus. It is said this was used by the Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero. This Sangawasa is in a dilapidated state with roof and parts of wall destroyed in the rear section of the building. This is a 13.8×12.2 meter building with a central courtyard with 5 rooms. The front portico has been built at a later date proved by different size of bricks used in construction of this section.

About 2 meters south to the image house there is an unidentified hole drilled in to a rock. This is about 12 cm deep with a 8cm diameter at the top, tapering down to 3 cm at the bottom.


  • ගවේෂන – 2 කලාපය – වයඹ පලාතේ පුරාවිද්‍යා ගවේෂන – 1 අදියර විශේෂ කලාපය – පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තුමේන්තුව

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Travel Directions to Algama Sri Sangharaja Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Algama Sri Sangharaja Rajamaha Viharaya

Through : Airport expressway – Giriulla – Dambadeniya – Narammala
Distance : 100 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours
Time to spend : 45  mins
Driving directions : see on google map