Thambugala Hengawa Tampita Viharaya

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තාඹුගල හැඟව ටැම්පිට විහාරය - Thambugala Hangawa Tampita Viharaya
තාඹුගල හැඟව ටැම්පිට විහාරය – Thambugala Hangawa Tampita Viharaya
Image source : a video clip by Nara Creation

Thambugala lies in the Mallawapitiya Divisional Secretariat in Kurunegala District. Starting from Kurunegala town, you need to travel to Badagamuwa on the Dambulla road and take the Wellawa Road just before and adjoining the Badagamuwa forest patch. Traveling on this road for about 5 km will bring you to the Hengawa Tampita Viharaya Temple.

Tampita Vihara (Temple on Pillars) was a popular architectural feature during the Kandyan kingdom where the temple was built on a platform which was held on an array of pillars, mostly stone.

The typical plan of a Tampita Viharaya comprise of 3 spaces. The most important is the inner room. This is main shrine room and comrise of a seated buddha statue facing the door and commonly standing Buddha statues at the sides. Statues or paintings of Sariyuth and Mugalan theros, other deities such as Saman, Vishnu, Natha, Siva and patronizing kings and dignitaries are commonly found inside the shrine room. The walls are covered with art depicting Jataka stories or other events in Buddhist literature.

The second space is the narrow circumambulating  path or a verandah which encircles the inner room. This is sometimes completely covered by an outerwall or exposed to outside with a short timber or wattle and daub side wall.

Generally the circumambulating  path/verandah is extended in space at the front of the inner room creating the 3rd space. This space is accessible from the ground level by a few steps mostly taking the form of a step ladder.

According to oral history the temple has been built by Meegasthanne Maha Adhikaram also known as the Dumbara Maha Nilame during the reign of Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781).

Thambugala Hengawa Tampita Viharaya is built on 17 stone pillars which are 79 cm high. A verandah path runs around the image house. It is 66cm wide at the sides, 71cm wide at the rear. The front is 1.91 meters wide. The size of the image house is 2.92×2.46 meters and the building is 5.54×3.71 meters in size.

The entrance to the temple is through few wooden steps. This has been built in cement pre-2000 era (see photo above) but has been removed during a later restoration.

The entrance to the inner chamber is through a door surrounded by a Makara Thorana (Dragon Arch). Two statues of guardian deities carrying pots plenty are seen beside the doorway below the dragons arch.

The main seated image of Buddha lies facing the door. The statue is surrounded by a painting of a horse shoe shaped halo using a flame design typically found on temples of Kandyan era. Paintings of Sun and the moon is seen at the top of the wall. Paintings of Sariyuth and Mugalan theros are seen below these designs. Two statues of deities Saman and Vishnu (Upuluwan) are seen beside the Buddha statue on the sidewalls. Next to these, two statues of Buddha in the standing posture can be found, These statues too are covered with the typical horse shoe shaped halo using a flame design head to feet. Although this temple belongs to the Kandyan era, the statues lacks some of the popular features of the Kandyan artists and possibly been reconstructed at a later date.

It is also interesting to note that 300-400 meters away from this temple, a cave temple knowns as the Hengawa Thambugala Len Viharaya built during the same period has existed till recently. Now deserted and lost to the jungle, it lies hidden in a cave complex forgotten by the villagers.

තාඹුගල හැඟව ටැම්පිට විහාරය 1990 දශකයේදී - Thambugala Hangawa Tampita Viharaya in 1990's
තාඹුගල හැඟව ටැම්පිට විහාරය 1990 දශකයේදී – Thambugala Hangawa Tampita Viharaya in 1990’s


  • M.S. MANAWADU, 1993. Vernacular Architecture of Sathkorale in Sri Lanka and their Preservation. monograph on Vernacular Architecture, published for the occasion the 10th General Assembly of the ICOMOS, Colombo, Sri Lanka.,.

Also See

Map of Thambugala Hengawa Tampita Viharaya

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Travel Directions Thambugala Hengawa Tampita Viharaya

Kurunegala to Thambugala Hengawa Tampita Viharaya
Though : Badagamuwa
Distance : 9 km
Travel time : 15 mins
Time to Spend : about 30  minutes
Driving directions : see on Google Map


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