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. Even though this town is now best known for its beaches, the history of this town goes as far as the 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.
- Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa Rajamaha Viharaya
- Vanawasa Rajamaha Viharaya
- Bodhimalu Rajamaha Viharaya
- Galapatha Rajamaha Viharaya &
- Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya
Although now operating as five different temples, it is believed that these 5 temples belonged to one large temple complex covering over 6 square kilometres in the ancient past. Based on archaeological studies, this temple complex was found to have been built by King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) according to Mr. R. Ayrton, Commissioner of Archeology (1912-1913). During the reign of the Polonnaruwa kingdom, all five temples have 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 secondary 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.
Even after the destruction by the Portuguese, the ancient Bodhi of the Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya survives today. This Bodhi lies on a small hillock and you can see the remains of a tunnel once connected all five temples below the tree. In addition, ruins of an ancient stupa and a moonstone still survive in the temple premises.
Today, the Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya is more popular for its Kandekumara Devalaya and Sunium Devalaya.
Map of Bentota Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha 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
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
Travel Directions to Bentota Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya
|Route from Bentota Bridge up to Bemvehera Gane Rajamaha Viharaya|
|Through : Circular Road|
Distance : 1.5 km
Time to spend : 30 mins
Travel time : 5 mins
Driving directions : see on google map