Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya (ගණේගම අරමුණපොළ රජමහා විහාරය)

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Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya which is also commonly referred to as Ganegama Rankoth Viharaya lies 2.5 kilometers before the Pelmadulla Town in center of a paddy field. The history of the temple goes as far as king Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC) of Anuradhapura Kingdom.

According to historical chronicle Bodhi Wansa this temple was one of the locations that that the first 32 samplings of the Sri Maha Bodhi was planted by King Devanampiyatissa. This Bodhi tree can be seen even today at the temple.

In the early days this has been called Denawaka Viharaya.  The Chronicles again speaks of this temple during the reign of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) of Polonnaruwa Kingdom. Its is said that king Vijayabahu I established an army camp at a basin (ද්‍රෝණය) between Kiribathgala Kanda and Kuttapitiya hills which is believed to be this location. Thus this temple also has been called as Dronawakka Viharaya ( Denavaka Viharaya) at one era. This is the name which has been used to identify this temple in the Vihara Asna (Nam Potha) which is believed to be published during the king Parakramabahu IV (1411-1463) of Kotte Kingdom as the reading book for students.

The Buddhist order has been facing major a decline with no proper priest hood during the reign of king Vijayabahu I (1070-1110) and he has invited higher ordinate priests from Burma (now Myanmar) to ordinate local priests and develop the priesthood in Sri Lanka. This temple has been frequently used by these priests who arrived from the Arammana area of Burma. The Arammana had became Aramunupola with time and now know as the Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya.

The recovered wooden Buddha statue at Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya
The recovered wooden Buddha statue at Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya
Source :

The king Parakramabahu IV (1411-1463) of Kotte Kingdom who had a deep bond with his mother has developed many temples in honor of his mother. in addition to the building one of the  greatest spiritual and historic Pirivenas of that time. One such temple to receive his attention was Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya where he had build a shrine using the best stonemasons from up country and low country and assigned the temple under the Pepiliyna Sunethra Devi Pirivena.

Therefore it is considered that this temple is one of the few temples which both up country and low country styles of stone masonry can be seen in a single place. The building is built using 27 exquisitely carved rock pillars.

At two ends of the roof of this building, you can see two golden pinnacles and due to these the temple was also became to known as  Ganegama Rankoth Viharaya.

Portuguese captain Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo during his stint in then Ceylon between  1594 and 1612 is said to have used Denavaka as camping ground on one of his attempt to attack the Kandyan Kingdom. When news arrived that the Portuguese army marching towards Denavaka looting and destroying all Buddhist temples lying on their path, the villagers had managed to hide a large Buddha Statue caved out of wood  and and other holy items by submerging them in the Denaka River. Most valuables of the temple has been looted by the Portuguese.

This 4 feet statue was later recovered and lies in the main statue house even today.  There are some other Buddha statues animal statues in the image house belonging to Kandyan era. All these have been made filling clay on to a wooden frames.

Italian art expert Luciano Maranzi in 1968 has made a attempt to restore the faded paintings in this temple during his visit to restore the famous Sigiriya Frescos which were vandalized by unknown persons. During thia attemt he has managed to recover a paining with a Portuguese solder and 2 cats within these painting consolidating the stockade of Azevedo at this temple.

Primary Source : Ratnapuraya – Etha Siyawasa saha Thawath Katha
by H.M Jayantha Wijerathne

Alternate Names : Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya, Ganegama Rankot Rajamaha Viharaya, Ganegama Rankoth Rajamaha Viharaya, Pelmadulla Rankot Rajamaha Viharaya, Pelmadulla Rankoth Rajamaha Viharaya,

Also See

Map of Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya Route 2 from Colombo to Ganegama Aramunapola Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Kesbewa – Horana – Ratnapura – Pelmadulla
Distance : 110 km
Travel time : 3 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Kaduwela – Avissawella – Ratnapura – Pelmadulla
Distance : 107 km
Travel time : 3  hours.
Driving directions : see on google map


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