Bihalpola Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya (බිහාල්පොල ටැම්පිට රජමහා විහාරය)

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According to the legend, Bihalpola Rajamaha Viharaya was constructed during the reign of King Devanmpiya Tissa (250-251 B.C.) and later renovated by King Walagamba  89-77 BC). Among the ruins that can be seen at the site, there is a Stupa, an Attani pillar inscription, several stone pillar bases and a flight of steps, possibly belonging to the Anuradhapura period. Some paintings possibly from this period show King Walagamba and the Deity Natha which are badly deteriorated.

On one rocky plain, there is a Tampita Viharaya, Dhatu Mandiraya (Relic House), and a Vihara Mandiraya, three buildings joined together and built during the Kandyan period. The Tampita Viharaya is built on 9 stone pillar stumps, 2 feet tall. Large beams of timber are laid across the stone pillars and wooden planks are laid across them to make the floor of the structure. The image house on the Tampita Viharaya is 13 feet in length and 9 feet 8 inches wide. A 3 feet-wide circumambulating path is built around the image house with a 7 feet-wide space at the front. The whole structure is 26 feet long `8 feet wide.

There are 2 entrances to the viharaya. The entrance is faced North and the exit faces West. Stone steps are built at both the entrances. Two statues of guardian deities carrying a flower pot stand guard beside the main entrance. At he top of the door frame is a Makara Thorana with four deities each at two sides. The door frame is built in Suryawanka design. Most of the paint on the statues as well as the Makara Thorana is faded. The murals inside the image house have been repainted in 1928 destroying much of the archaeological value.

A 5 feet 6 inches high (with a pedestal) Samadhi Buddha statue flanked by two standing  Buddha statues lies in the image house. The height of the standing statues is 7 feet and 7 inches high. Figures of Arhaths Sariputta and Moggallana are drawn on the wall beside the seated Buddha statue. paintings of Saman and Vishnu deities are drawn beside the standing Buddha statues.

On the ceiling, a delightful lotus design has been painted and along the walls of the corridor, the paintings of Vessantara and some other Jathaka stories are depicted. Some of the original murals on the exterior wall of the image house have been recovered during restorations.

The building known as Dhatu Mandiraya next to Tampita Viharaya is a two-story building built during the same era. The ground floor of the building is plain lacking any statues or murals. A narrow stairway takes you to the upper floor. The relic chamber on the upper floor is similar to the image house. A circumambulating path is built around the relic chamber. There are two entrances to the chamber. The outer door frame is filled with carvings. At the centre is a mermaid blowing a horn. An artistic dragon arch decorates the inner door to the relic chamber.  The door and the frame are decorated with floral patterns. A painting of Bodhisattva or deity Natha can be seen outside the inner chamber. The outer wall of the relic chamber is covered in line drawings depicting the Vessanthara Jathakaya.

The murals on the walls are in their original form with Kandyan Sittara-style paintings. A small stupa is drawn on the wall where the relic casket is to be kept. Currently, a small reclining Buddha statue donated from Thailand occupies this space.

The third building too belongs to the same era but the later renovations have destroyed the architectural value of the murals in the building. Some of the original murals have been recovered during recent restoration work done by the Department of Archaeology.

The Sacred Footprint of the Buddha and the Statues at the Bihalpola Rajamaha Viharaya have been destroyed by treasure hunters. A fire in 1997 damaged a number of paintings and a wooden Makara Thorana in the temple.

  • closest town : Narammala
  • Local Authority : Alauwa / Alawwa
  • District : Kurunegala
Bihalpola Rajamaha Viharaya - බිහාල්පොල රජමහා විහාරය
Bihalpola Rajamaha Viharaya – බිහාල්පොල රජමහා විහාරය
source : Administrative Report of the Archaeological Commissioner for the years 1970-1971

References

  • විජයවර්ධන කුසුම්සිරි, 2009, ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ටැම්පිට විහාර, දයාවංශ ජයකොඩි සහ සමාගම.
  • De Silva, R., 1977. Administrative Report of the Archaeological Commissioner for the years 1970-1971. Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka.

Also See

Map of Bihalpola Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya

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Driving Directions To Bihalpola Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Bihalpola Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Kurunegala to Bihalpola Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Ja-Ela – Minuwangoda – Giriulla – Narammala
Distance: 88 km
Travel time :2.15 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Narammala
Distance : 5 km
Travel time : 10 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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