Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya – ඇවරියපතහ රජමහා විහාරය

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Inside the ancient image house at Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya
Inside the ancient image house at Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya
Image courtesy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage

Awariyapathaha  Rajamaha Viharaya looks as a another typical temple on the Galewela – Dambulla road with nothing unique to be seen. A Buddhist temple is generally called a Rajamaha Viharaya if it has been patronized by ancient kings but today, most Rajamaha Viharayas have gone through many cycles renovations losing any sign of  thousands years of their rich history.

Awariyapathaha  Rajamaha Viharaya which had been called Shaila Bimbaramaya in the past, too have gone through this cycle but luckily beyond the new temple, remains of its ancient history is still preserved in 3 cave shrines and on the ruins on the rock behind the temple. There are number of now unused drip ledge caves  and a large natural rock pool at the top of the rock is said the have been used by the Arhaths in the ancient past.

According to popular legend, this temple was first built by king Vattagamini Abaya better known as king Walagamba (89-77 BC). There has been 2 dilapidated stupa’s on rock till the recent past, one has been totally destroyed by treasure looters along with many other ancient artifacts. A new stupa has been built enshrining the remains of the other ancient stupa.

The cave shrines of this temple shows that this was again revived during the Kandyan era. One of the cave shrines has been restored by the Cultural Triangle Fund recently.

The old image house seems belonging to Kandyen era. The murals and other paintings depicting several Jathaka stories are discolored while some are peeling due to neglect. Although the Department of Archaeology has declared this shrine along with the Discourse Hall, flight of steps hewn on the natural rock, pillar foundation and the entrance to the drip ledged rock cave as protected monument, no attention given to these murals so far.

The ancient Buddha shrine, Chaitya, Discourse Hall, flight of steps hewn on the natural rock, Pillar foundation, entrance to the drip ledged rock cave in the premises


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Map of Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Galewela to Awariyapathaha Rajamaha Viharaya

Through : Damunumulla
Time to Spend : 1 hour
Distance :2.5 km
Travel time : 10 min.
Driving directions : see on google map