It is believed that the Dedimunda Deiyo is the guardian deity of the Buddha Sasana. The name of the deity suggests that he was firm, hardhearted with a strong and powerful personality.
To reach Aluthnuwara Devale one has to travel to Hingula, two miles away from Mawanella on the Kandy-Colombo main road which was once a busy bazaar where people from Aranayake, Rambukkana and Mawanella came daily with their garden produce. They either walked or used bullock carts. Trade was dominated by the Chettiars who bought coffee, pepper, arecanuts and bananas in exchange for provisions. This was the scene before the World War 2. About two miles away from the Hingula bazaar, there is a road to the interior of Aluthnuwara which leads to the shrine of the deity Dedimunda Deiyo. Passing paddy fields and homesteads, one comes to an Ambalama with high stone wall pillars, a resting place for weary travelers in the days gone by. Travelling further, a flight of steps lead to the ‘Maluwa’ (compound). A short distance away is the Aluthnuwara Dedimunda Devale.
This devale is considered a special place of worship. On Kembura days, which are Wednesdays and Saturdays people come to offer pooja and make vows to the deity. People afflicted by illness which they consider is mostly due to evil spirits of Yaksha or Bhutha, have faith that the deity has the power to cure them of their maladies. They come from many parts of the country to seek the blessings of this deity.
Originally, the place of worship was built during the Dambadeniya period. This was situated close to the hillock where Galgane Purana raja Maha Viharaya is mentioned in the Nampotha.
It is believed that when King Parakramabahu II was passing through Aluthnuwara on his way to Sri Pada, he was very impressed with the place. He then decided to donate the property pattu village of his Queen Giriwasa Sunethra Devi, to the temple.
At this time a monk had come to reside here from Galaturumula Viharaya in Devinuwara. The monk was known as Assaddana Pirivenhimi as he founded the Assaddana Pirivena close to the temple. His successors reside at the present Kirthi Sri Raja Maha Viharaya.
It is said that King Parakramabahu II was taken very ill and found it difficult to speak. His chief minister Devapathi Raja visited Devinuwara and made offerings to Upulvan deiyo for the speedy recovery of the King.
In a dream, the chief minister was informed that the king’s illness cannot be cured. He returned to Dambadeniya with the ornaments of the deity and informed the king of his strange experience. The King died. The gods’ King Bhuvanekabahu and the chief monk of the Assaddana Pirivena too had a dream.
A deva had informed them to build a devale for Upulvan Deiyo. Accordingly, a devale was erected close to the cave temple. A statue of Upulvan deiyo was sculptured out of Sapu wood by a famous sculptor and the statue placed in the newly built devale.
The place where the Sapu tree stood came to be known as Sapugathtara. The ornaments of the deity were brought from Devinuwara and deposited in the devale at Aluthnuwara.
Buildings were added on to the devale during the reign of King Panditha Parakramabahu IV. The place was known as Nawatilakapuraya and later it became Aluthnuwara.
Another belief is that a chieftain was defied as Devatha Bandara after his death and was also the chief minister of god Upulvan.
A small devale was built in close proximity to the main devale. Upto the time King Wimaladharmasuriya I of Kandy, kings and chieftains donated lands and other valuable items to maintain the devale.
When the Portuguese invaded Kandy they looted the devale on their way. Hence, for safety the Upulvan deiyo image was housed close to the Sri Dalada Maligawa during King Senarat’s reign. At this time Hindu beliefs and worship became popular.
Thus, Upulvan Devale in Kandy came to be known as Maha Vishnu Devalaya. With the shifting of the Upulvan Devale to Kandy, now only the Dedimunda Devale remains at Aluthnuwara.
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Map of Aluthnuwara Dedimunda Devalaya at Mawanella
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Travel Directions to Aluthnuwara Dedimunda Devalaya at Mawanella
Route from Colombo to Aluthnuwara Dedimunda Devalaya at Mawanella
|Though : Gampaha – Warakapola – Mawanella|
Distance : 100 km
Travel time : 2.5-3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
In The Protective And Peaceful Domain Of Dadimunda
It was a clear day when we set off and the blue skies formed picturesque surroundings. A few milky white clouds were kicking the mountains tops. Waterfalls cascaded the veils of happy brides and streams flowed down from the mountains. When I saw them in the sunlight they resembled silver chains.
As we entered the village, we felt a serenity that is almost never known in Colombo. Cattle were gracing here and there and not just the cattle, but everyone here seemed to have all the time in the world.
The wind was fresh and it blew across the valley rustling the leaves of the trees. Now and then a flock of birds would fly across the village chirping almost in a shriek. Rows and rows of terraced lush green paddy fields descended from the mountains like well-laid carpets and this was the scene as far as our eyes could see. Large trees of teak, rubber, and Mara gave shade. Coconuts and arecanut palms swayed in the wind. There were gardens of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper.
We saw cottages with smoke puffing out of their chimneys reaching the little gardens in front of them as domesticated animals lounged in their compounds. The womenfolk continued with their daily chores, happy without the salons, malls and the nail bars.
This picturesque village I thought looked like a little piece of heaven that had fallen from the sky.
It is believed that Aluthnuwara dates back to the King Parakaramabahu II era. There is another belief that Aluthnuwara dates back to the era of caves. The famous Kandy Esala Perahera first came into existence in Aluthnuwara, said the Basnayake Nilame, Ajith Dissanayake. He went on to point out that this is why as gratitude, the flags of Dadimunda Devale are carried in the first row of the Kandy Esala Perahera.
Today every year in the month of June the Aluthnuwara Perahera goes on for a month.
Taking the winding road we reached Dadimunda Devale.
At the entrance there is a square archway with a small entrance to the premises of the devale. The devale itself is stood atop a small hill on your right side. To reach the devale one has climb three sets of steps. The devale is not large and imposing. It has a long narrow balcony. After climbing a few steps you arrive at the first praying area. This area has paintings on the ceiling. From there a few steps will take you to another praying area, few more steps will help you to reach the place where God Dadimunda’s golden effigy is deposited. Devotees are not permitted to this area. However the Kapumahatthaya is able to visit this space. Other devotees will have to pay homage from the two areas mentioned.
Who was God Dadimunda?
God Dadimunda’s name is very famous. According to the Kapumahaththayas the word Dadi depicts strength and power.
It is also said that God Dadimunda was born to a devil chief called Poornaka and his Naga queen Erandathi. Legend also tells us that the name Dadimunda was given on the day of enlightenment of Prince Gauthama (Buddha).
Another story is that on the day Lord Buddha was almost passing away Maraya descended. Then all the gods and saints who had gathered there ran away in fear. But only God Dadimunda remained hiding behind Lord Buddha’s robe (cheewaraya). At that instant it is learnt that Lord Buddha had said that this person is a very strong being.
Because of this he was known as God Dadimunda thereafter.
It is also said that there was a ruler of a high cast and a superhuman called Devaka Bandara who lived in this area. He was said to be a chief commander who served King Wickramasinghe. It is said that he was insanely in love with this region. So much so that after his death he became God Dadimunda.
There is yet another myth that God Dadimunda is God Vishnu’s minister or representative. Whatever it is, God Dadimunda is supposed to have immense powers.
The Basnayake Nilame, Ajith Dissanayake told us that soothsayers who have God’s powers cannot translate God’s language unless they go to this particular devale and take God Dadimunda’s weapon like a trident. God Dadimunda also has powers to charm. He spoke of a special efficacy in the power to heal those who are mentally ill. Thus many vows are made in this sacred place.
Another belief is that people who are possessed by the spirits of demons are also cured. In this instant it is said that God uses his cane to chase away the demon by beating the demon a few times with his cane.
There is also a story that God Dadimunda got a lot of work done by demons. This included the building of this devale. To prepare the ground to build the devale it is reported that they had to break and remove a huge rock which he had got done by demons. The demons had not used any instrument to break and remove this rock. But had used a kind of a rope and taken only one day to get this job done.
For anybody who is travelling to or from Kandy it is worthwhile to visit this sacred and historical place and immerse in its sacred surroundings.