Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya – Mawanella (මාවනැල්ල දනකිරිගල රජමහා විහාරය)

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Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya lies on remote picturesque mountain off Mawanella. The temple is believed to be built by King Walagamba during the 1st century. The rock inscriptions at the site dates this temple complex to a period even before – to the pre christian era. To reach the temple you need to climb 367 granite steps. These steps are engraved deep in the history of the country.

Lewke Wijewardhana (Wijesundara) Rajakaruna became the Dissawe of the Satara Korale in 1802 during the period of king Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe of Kandyan kingdom. He was renowned for his extraordinary strength, skills in arm to arm combat and for swordsmanship. Many stories are still being told of his various extraordinary abilities including his ability to squeeze open a coconut and swinging a sward dipped in lime chalk so that the tip touched every spectator leaving a trace of lime on their body.

According to a charter at the Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya, this Lewke Dissawe had built the steps by his hand and has carried out major renovations to the frescoes at the temple. According to legend, Lewke Dissawe used to go daily to the Maoya river for a bath, Everyday on his way home he would carry a granite block from the river to build a step and he repeated this until the all the steps were completed. But unfortunately the much respected Lewke Dissawe faced a unfortunate death, executed by king Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe in August 1803 for losing the battle at the Hanwella Fort.

After climbing these granite steps,  you will reach the main cave image house said to be the oldest cave to be occupied. On the drip ledge on cave an inscription states that the cave was donated to the Sanga by son of the chieftain Wesa called Wesaba. The inscription has been dated to the pre christian era.  In addition to this, 3 more drip ledge caves with inscriptions can be found at this site.

The cave image house is small and but fortunately still preserves the tradional Kandyan Era paintings and designs. But unfortunately, being in such a remote location, treasure looters have had a field day inside the cave. An exquisite wooden Makara Thorana (Dragons Arch)  and a gold plated Buddha statue in the temple was stolen some time ago. These had been recovered and now displayed at the National Museum in Colombo. The Buddha statues had been dug as well as the small stupa inside the cave in search of treasures.

You will find 4 Buddha statues of sitting posture and six standing Buddha statues, all still preserving the original Kandyan styles. In addition an eight foot statue of Lewke Dissawe can also be seen in the cave.

Outside the cave image house, you will find a ancient Bodhigara constructed with large granite blocks. The Bodhi Tree has been long dead.

In addition you will also see remains of many ancient buildings scattered all around the area.

Also See

Map of Mawanella Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya

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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

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Travel Directions to Mawanella Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Mawanella to Danagirigala Rajamaha Viharaya
Time to Spend : 30 – 60 minutes
Distance :9 km
Travel time : 15 min + climb.
Driving directions : see on google map

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