Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya (ඊරට්ටපෙරියකුලම / ඉරට්පෙරියකුලම ශෛලබිම්බාරාම පුරාණ විහාරය)

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Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya
Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya
photo by Ind Sara

Iratperiyakulama is a village lying on the A9 route (Kandy – Jaffna) 19 km passing Medawachchiya and 6 km before Vavuniya. The temple lie on the right next to the road built on an ancient Buddhist Monastic Complex. It is said that the temple was spread over an area of over 1 sq. kilometre but today has been restricted to a mere 2-3 acres.

This Buddhist site which has been covered in the jungle for thousands of years was cleared in 1930 by Sheelananda Thero of Periyaulakkulama in 1930’s. Most buildings you see today have been built after 1930.

The Sri Pathul Gala (footprint of Buddha carved in stone)

Among these new buildings, you will also see an ancient Siri Pathul Gala, a Samadhi Statue carved in stone, a large rectangular slab of rock which had been a flower alter and and washed ancient stupa now resembling a mound of earth.

The Siri Pathul Gala (footprint of Buddha carved on the slab of rock) was used as an object to represent the Buddha during the earliest times before Buddha statues were built. The Sri Pathul Gala at this temple is 2 feet 9 inches long and 2 feet 8 inches wide and probably belonged to the stupa according to Henry Parker in an archaeological report in 1905.

The Stupa

The mound consisting of the ancient stupa is about 35 feet in diameter. Today it resembles a mound of clay bricks. An octagonal Youpa Kanuwa has been erected at the centre of the stupa.

Limestone Buddha of Iratperiyakulama

One book source states that the limestone Buddha statues in the temple were discovered buried in the ground when a foundation was dug for a new building but the 1893-94 Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society quotes Henry Parker as observing ruins of a Pohoya-Ge and a large sedant image of Buddha and the usual two rows of pillars with a flight of steps.

The statue is about 4½ feet in height. Henry Parker comments that this statue was in a good state of preservation and is made from the same type of limestone found at the Iratperiyakulama Kanda close to the Iratperiyakulama Reservoir. He also states that the face of the statue is the best face he has seen on a statue of this kind. Unfortunately, this statue has been painted in gold paint today hiding its antiquity.

The ancient granite flower altar too can be seen close to this stupa mound. It is 6 feet 5 inches long and 2 feet 7 inches wide.

Parker also believed this temple is part of the  Tihadiya Viharaya Complex which was mentioned on a slab inscription found on the embankment of the Iratperiyakulama reservoir.

Primary sources :
Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society – Volume XIII – 1893-1894.
Archaeological Survey of Ceylon – North Central, Central and Northern Provinces – Annual Report – 1905

Also See

Map of Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya

Route from Medawachchiya up to Iratperiyakulama Shailabimbarama Purana Viharaya
Through : Vavuniya Road
Distance : 20 km
Time to spend : 30 – 45 mins
Travel time : 20 mins
Driving directions : see on Google map

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