Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya (දෝව රජමහා විහාරය)

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Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya lies a few kilometers away from the Bandarawela town on the Bandarawela – Badulla Road. This temple is thought to have been built by King Walagamba in the first century BC. This is one of the many temples built by the king while taking refuge in the Uva province after an Indian invasion.

The temple has gained popularity mainly due to its massive 38 feet Buddha Statue carved in granite rock. But this temple also hides some secrets that time has forgotten.

The uncompleted image of the Buddha is carved out of a rock boulder which is well hidden from the main road. Not much of attention has been given to this statue and it seems to be slowly breaking up. At the top of the boulder is a small stupa. This stupa is on the same level as the road and it is the only indication of a temple to a traveler on the road.

At the rear of the image house is a small stupa inside a cave. The cave functions as a Stupaghara for the stupa. These are generally called Chetiya Len. Behind this stupa, inside the cave is a tunnel called the Ravana Guhawa guarded by a figure of a Clay King Cobra. This 11 km long tunnel is said to be connecting the Ravana Maha Viharaya at Ella and the Bogoda Raja Maha Viharaya. Unfortunately, this tunnel entrance has been sealed off with cement by the temple due to various vandalism acts by treasure hunters. It said that the king disappeared from the area overnight using the tunnels and thus the work on the Buddha Statue was abruptly stopped.

The Image house built inside the cave is full of colorful murals and Buddha Images and consists of 3 chambers. On the sides of the main entrance to the image house is two guardians, one with an elephant in its mouth and the other with a bull (?) in its mouth. It is said that they are Watuka and Kuvera, two Rakshasa tribal leaders, guarding the entrance to the shrine room. The door frame of the Image House in the temple is made out of solid rock and has an inscription to say it was built in 1880. The outermost chamber is filled with murals from the Kandyan Era. The entrance to the second chamber is decorated with an elaborated Makara Thorana. In the second chamber is a row of Buddha images along with paintings. The rock canopy is decorated with various motifs. Hidden in these decorations is a rare painting of “Eth – Gon Satana” (an elephant – bull fight )

Entrance to the 3rd chamber is a simple wooden door and inside are two reclining statues of Buddha along the contours of the cave.

The Bo Tree is on a higher elevation than the image house. On this platform is a small pond surrounding a rock. This rock forms a natural water sprout and water continuously flows through small openings at the the top of the rock.

Also See

Map of Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya

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Driving Directions to Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Bandarawela to Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya
Distance : 7 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Distance : 7 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving Directions : see on google map
Route from Badulla to Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya  
distance : 23 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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