Tampita Vihara Heritage of Sri Lanka – ශ්රී ලංකාවේ පුරාණ ටැම්පිට විහාර
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Tampita Viharaya (Temple on Pillars, Devapita Viharaya, Devamatha Viharaya) is a distinctly unique type of image house found in some Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Although there are some proof older structures these buildings were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the 17th-19th centuries. There are more than two hundred Tempita Viharayas have been identified in Sri Lanka to date. Most of the shrines are found in North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and Western provinces.
A Tampita Viharaya is built on a wooden platform which rests on number of stone stumps usually 3-4 feet tall. The roof is held by a structure built of timber and the walls are generally made of wattle and daub. A seated Buddha statue is build at the center and more statues of standing Buddhas, deities lie beside the main statue. These are made of clay, timber or limestone. The inner walls are completely painted in frescoes using sceneries from Jataka stories or Buddhas life.
Although such structures were built as Buddhist image houses, later the same structures has been built and Devales to worship various deities.
The basic structure of the Tampita Viharaya has also evolved in to various forms over time with tampita viharaya being built on a very high pillars with a ground floor being used as a Banamaduwa or Dig-Ge being connected to the viharaya.
After an extensive search, 227 Tampita Viharaya’s have been listed below, most of them with exact locations. Out of the full list, there are 8 site which are in total ruins leaving only the granite stumps which they stood upon. The Tampita Vihara structure remains intact in some form in all other sites. Out the list 7 are Tampita Devala, mostly dedicated Pattini deity, all others are Buddhist temples.
The largest number of Tampita Vihara are found in Kurunegala District which is 68 temples (out of which 1 is a devalaya). This is closely followed by Kegalle District with 58 temples (out of which 3 are devala). Although this architectural feature belongs to the Kandyan era, there are only 18 Tampita Viharaya’s in Kandy district.
A Tampita Viharaya been built on 9 granite stumps with wooden steps at the entrance. The roof is tiled with with flat clay times, a common architectural feature of buildings of Kandyan Era. A small mandapa has been built in front of the building and connected at the roof.
One of the most popular seat of learning of the ancient Kotte Kingdom. Establishment of the temple is attributed to king Vijayabahu IV (1270-1272) of Dambadeniya kingdom. Only the pillars remain today.
This Tampita Viharaya is unique in two ways. This structure is built on large pillars built out of a mixture of Kabok and granite rocks instead of granite or wooden pillars. Mahalloluwa is also the only Tampita Viharaya where a reclining Buddha statue can be found.
This is considered one of the best preserved and maintained Tampita Viharaya in the Gampaha District. The structure is built on 16 granite stumps. A circumambulating path is built around the inner chamber with a wooden handrail.
This Tampita Viharaya is built on nine granite stumps of about 3 feet in height. The structure is 8 feet 6 inches long and 6 feet 8 inches wide. A 1 feet 6 inch wide circumambulating path goes around the inner chamber.
Samanabedda Rajamaha Viharaya, Hanwella
The Tampita Viharaya has been completely demolished in a renovation carried out in 1920. GPS location 6.914988, 80.073936
This Tampita Viharaya is built on 25 granite stumps of about 3 feet in height. The roof is tiled with Sinhala Ulu. The structure is 19'x15'3" in size. A 3'10" high short wall is built around the structure.
Much of history of this temple is lost in time, but the temple has received royal patronage of king Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781) of Kandyan kingdom. The Tampita Viharaya in the temple has been built by Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe and a large bronze statue of Buddha gifted by the king is still in possession of the temple.
A two storied Tampita Viharaya. Ground floor is a preaching hall. The Tampita Viharaya is built on 9 tall rock pillars. A wooden flight of steps on one side of the preaching hall takes you to upper floor.
The tampita viharaya is built on a rock plain on top of 13 rock pillar stumps of about 3 feet in height. The door frame is decorated withe various wood carvings. At the top you will find a painting of "Panch Nari Getaya" (a design of five interlocked women) at the center with creeper designs. Painting of "Narilatha Flower" with female face at the center.
Malagammana Rajamaha viharaya
The Tampita Viharaya at this temple was destroyed by the British forces in 1818. What you see today is the new temple built thereafter. GPS location 7.325055, 80.584784
This temple has been built during the reign of king Wimaladarmasuriya (1592 – 1604) for a priest called Buddhagammana thero. The Tampita Viharaya of the temple has been built by one of his students, Attadassi Thero.
This temple is believed to be built in the 14th century during the Gampola Kingdom era. Some statues have been stolen by treasure hunters. The building retains its original from. This temple has no resident monk.
One of the largest Tampita Vihara in Kandy district. The image house is 17 feet 7 inches long and 11 feet 9 inches wide. A 2 feet 5 inch circumambulating path is built around the image house. The front porch is 7 feet long. The whole Tampita Structure is 29 feet 3 inches long and 18 feet 3 inches wide.
This Tampita Viharaya is built on 20 granite stumps of 2 feet 9 inches high. The viharaya is 14 feet 6 inches long and 9 feet wide. A 2 feet 6 inch circumambulating path is built around the image house with a timber railing.
The Tampita Viharaya at this temple is built on 20 granite stumps of about 2½ feet tall. There is a open circumambulating path is built around the image house with no railing or protection. There is a Mandapa built in front of the temple. Both roofs are tiled with calicut tiles.
The Tampita Viharaya is built on 15 granite stumps of about 2 feet tall. The wooden platform is built on large timber beams measuring 7 inches in height and 11 inches wide laid across the granite stumps.
The Tampita Viharaya at Gondiwala is built on six granite stumps of about 8 feet tall. The wooden platform is built on large timber beams laid across the granite stumps. The chamber of the Tampita Viharaya is 10 feet long.
Hathgampola Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya - Aranayake
According to Kegalu Korala Pawatha (2006) by M.D.M.S. Yatawara, this Tampita viharaya belonging to the Kandyan era is fallen and is in a extreme dilapidated state. GPS location 7.175450, 80.437027
The Tampita Viharaya structure at Hingula is 20 feet long and 17 feet wide. The image chamber is 12 feet 6 inches long and 9 feet 6 inches wide. The whole structure is built on thirteen 6 feet high granite pillars.
Lies in Ussapitiya, 5 kilometers off Mawanella. The last conservation of the this Tampita Viharaya and the pillar base was carried out in 2010.
Kehelwaththa Sri Sumanarama Tampita Viharaya
Kehelwatta lies 5km down Gevilipitiya road which starts from Hettimulla. According to Kegalu Korala Pawatha (2006), this two storied Tampita viharaya has been built similar to Dodanthale Viharaya. The temple lies in Wathura, Dodanthale. Possible location https://goo.gl/maps/e7TKUGRCazNEMxtq9
This Tampita Viharaya is built on 21 granite pillars rising 7 feet from the ground. The image house is 20 feet 8 inches logng and 17 feet 10 inches wide. There is a 2 feet 6 inch wide circumambulating path going around the image house but the protective railing is missing.
The Tampita Viharaya is built on 8 granite stumps rising 1 feet 10 inches off the ground level. The viharaya 11 feet long, 8 feet wide and about 7 feet in height.
Maliyadda Sri Sudarshanarama Purana Tampita Viharaya
lies off Mawanella on the Hemmathagama road. According to Kegalu Korala Pawatha (2006) the stucture is in good condition with images and paintings intact. Possible Location unknown. Video on the Tampita viharaya is here - https://youtu.be/o54CkukUZhk?t=28s
Mangedara is a small Tampita Viharaya built during the Kandyan era which still maintains its original charm. The temple lies few kilometers from Ambepussa junction and is accessible from either Kurunegala road or Kandy road.
Mannagoda Tempita Viharaya, Mawanella
located in the Mawanella Divisional Secretary's Division. Was declared as a protected archaeological monument in 2nd November 1958.
The Tampita Viharaya at this temple is built on a natural rock plain. A 2 feet high platform has been constructed on the rock and 16 granite stumps with 1 foot 8 inches height have been placed on the platform to build the temple.
The Tampita Viharaya has been modernized and reconstructed thus losing all its ancient murals. The granite pillars on which the image house stood have been removed in the new building.
Udugama Sri Sunethrarama Purana Viharaya
declared as a protected archaeological monument in 1 November 1996. According to Kegalu Korala Pawatha (2006), this Tampita viharaya belong to the era of Rajasinghe II. The paintings and the statues are well preserved.
Udumulla Heenatipana Isipathanaramaya
This temple is listed in the "Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara" book by Kusumsiri Wijayawardhana. According the Kegalu Korala Pawatha this is in ruins and one standing buddha statue exists in the temple.
A tampita viharaya in good condition. Recently restored by Archaeology department.
Wathura Rajamaha Viharaya
According to Kegalu Korala Pawatha (2006) only the pillar stumps remain of this Tampita viharaya. A Kandyan era seated Buddha statue is kept in a separate small image house. GPS location 7.189328, 80.375349
Yatagama Sri Sunethrarama Purana Tampita Viharaya, Udadama
Yatagama lies 4km off Rambukkana on the Rambukkana - Walgama Road. A video of the temple is at https://youtu.be/yBecAk4huCk . No further information is available.
The history of the temple dates back to about 3rd Century BC.The Tampita Viharaya at Bingiriya is the largest in the country. The whole structure is 34 feet long and 24 feet wide. The temple is built on 24 granite pillars 6 feet high.
The Tampita Viharaya is built on 16 granite pillar stumps erected on a raised platform filled with gravel. A narrow circumambulating path is built around the image house with a wider space at the front.
Is built upon 12 granite pillars,A narrow circumambulating path around the main chamber can be seen. The outer wall of the inner chamber is covered in paintings.
Galayaya Sri Sudharamarama Purana Tampita Viharaya
The Tampita Viharaya belonging to the Galayaya Sri Sudharamarama Purana Viharaya lies in Ihala Galayaya Grama Niladhari division, Pannala Divisional Secretary’s division. Was declared as a protected archaeological monument on 24 July 2009. - https://goo.gl/maps/jQMiQW3GReq2Gyxb6
Galayaya Sri Sumanarama Purana Tampita Viharaya
Listed in the 'Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara' by Kusumsiri Wijayawardhana. No further information available.
Galgamuwa Tampitagoda Purana Tampita Viharaya
Lies in Galgamuwa South Grama Niladhari Division in Alawwa DS Division. Gazetted as a protected monument in November 17, 2006 and again in 23rd February 2007.
This Tampita Viharaya was declared as an Protected Archaeological Site by the government by the gazette dated 24th July 2009. No further information is available.
Kalavana Sri Sugatharama Purana Tampita Viharaya
Declared as an protected monument in December 07, 2001. - gazette notification - The ancient Tampita Vihara situated within the premises of Sri Sugatharama Vihara in the village of Kalavana of the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Polgahawela of Kurunegala District in the North Western Province
he Tampita Viharaya is built on a wooden platform on six large granite stumps.
Katiyawa Purana Tampita Viharaya
Performance report of the archaeology department for 2011 notes spending Rs 107,758/- for completion of the conservation of Katiyawa Tampita Viharaya. Possible temple Sri Punyawardhanaramaya, GPS 7.624829, 80.549196
Built on 20 massive granite pillars about 4 feet tall and the walls are painted on a layer of clay. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the original paintings of Kandyan era, murals in the structure seems to have been recently retouched by an amateur painter losing both its originality and beauty.
The Tampita Viharaya is comparatively small. A narrow circumambulating path with no protective rail surrounds the image house. The entrance and the outer wall of the image house is painted orange and its unclear if there were any murals on the walls.
This Tampita Viharaya is a two storied building which has been restored by the department archaeology. Unfortunately the tam (pillars) are not visible on this restored building which seems to have been filled with earth and covered.
Located in Mananwatta in Aluthgama, Matale. GPS location is 7.683387, 80.597623. Only source of infromation this temple being a Tampita Viharaya is ; historicasrilanka.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post_25.html
Unfortunately this Tampita Viharaya has been completely rebuilt and has lost its architectural and archaeological value.
Narangolla Purana Tampita Viharaya
The temple can be reached through Gammaduwa road reachable through Kalthota, Matale. Protected archaeological site - "The Tampita vihara of the Narangolla ancient vihara premises in the Grama Niladhari Division of Narangolle-E, in Ambanganga Divisional Secretary’s Division, in Matale District, Central Province" Possible location https://goo.gl/maps/7seBCR7NUykQR7ev8
Unfortunately this Tampita Viharaya has been completely rebuilt. The image house is no longer on pillars but on a cemented platform built burying the pillars. The walls and the roof too have been completely rebuilt with cement and new roofing tiles.
Is built upon 10 granite pillars which are about 3 1/2 feet high. These pillars are decorated with with wooden pillar heads. The end of wooden cross beams which lies on top of the pillars are too carved.
A popular Tampita Devalaya in Halpe. Two stories are built on short granite stumps.
Kumbalgama Sri Vishuddharamaya Purana Tampita Viharaya
Protected as an archaeological monument - The Kumbalgama Sri Visuddhaaraama Ancient Tampita Viharaya and the surrounding moat in the Kumbalgama Grama Niladhari Division in the Imbulpae Divisional Secretary’s Division, Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province.
The base of the viharaya along with the stone pillars has been filled and cannot been seen. A larger hall has been built surrounding the tampita viharaya making it invisible.