Kasagala Rajamaha Viharaya – Kurunegala – කසාගල පුරාණ රජමහා විහාරය

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The main image house of the Kurunegala Kasagala Rajamaha Viharaya

The main image house of the Kurunegala Kasagala Rajamaha Viharaya
Image courtesy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage

This is one of the three sites identified with the historical Kassaka-lena or Kasagala, a site sacred in its association with the Dethis Bodin Wahansa.

Travelling along the Madagalla Road after turning off at Ibbagamuwa, we approached the Kasagala temple crossing a bund over a dried up wewa, its parched and crusting mud thirsting for the rains. Here and there appeared a tiny oasis filled with murky water. Purple Manel flowers lay with their roots and yams pathetically exposed to dizzy heat. A few cranes stood to attention where ever there was water. Cows grazed where the grass had grown. It was mid-noon and very hot. The temple building sprawled under balmy coconut trees. Its ancient legacy, evident by the stone columns that peered out from their timeless graves, or were laid around neatly on the sides.

A huge rock boulder rose on one side of the temple premises amidst smaller boulders that emerged in dramatic pose, set in a charming green-scape. Two caves, believed to have been used by holy men from time immemorial; today, house shrine rooms.

The old shrine on a slightly higher elevation is attributed to king Valagamba and its paintings to the Kandyan period. It consists of a very small dark musty recess with rather a clumsy looking makara thorana at its entrance. Its clumsiness in fact is its very charm. Mythical lions, gods and goddesses, doratupala figures, stand to attention with their designs predominantly outlined in blue. Inside, the paintings were faded and peeling. An electric bulb hung at its door but did not work. The darkness of the enclosed cave made it impossible to see the paintings. Some beautiful and delicate images of the Lord Buddha and god Vishnu were present.

The new shrine was spotlessly clean and fragrant with the flowers and incense offered by devotees. The images of the Lord Buddha and scenes from the Jataka’s were freshly painted in brilliant colours. The paintings included the Solosmasthana or the 16 sites of Lanka sanctified by the Lord Buddha. Behind the huge reclining Buddha image was a recess which had once led to a devalaya was now sealed.

In-between these two caves the rock face of the boulder took the shape of the front pose of an elephant and here, we were told, ancient treasure was hidden. Kasagala had its share of treasure stories which had become its very curse and many were the sacrilegious acts of greed committed at this site

Amongst its archeological treasures can be mentioned the the number of Siri Pathula stones, a gal-asana, a sandakadapahana, stone columns being parts of a vahalkada which have been found here.

By the side of the old shrine a steep but short pathway leads up the boulder to its summit. Here are the very ancient ruins of a chaitiya attributed to the time of king Devanampiyatissa. Today we see it as a mass of broken bricks and earth overgrown with tall sun scorched grass. Adjoining this, on the spreading rock summit is a new image house of the Lord Buddha.

From here you are treated to a splendid view over the lush neighbourhood of Kasagala, spread with sprawling paddy fields and its adjacent mountains and rocks. Out of the mountain-scape one rock stood out in its unusual bearing. A rock which in some ways resembling the shape of Sigiriya. On its flat summit a smaller boulder balanced in a most precarious angle. A perfect balancing act. That is known locally as the Queni gala, we were told.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

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Map of  Kasagala Rajamaha Viharaya


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Travel Directions to Kasagala Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Kasagala Viharaya

Route from Kurunegala to Kasagala Viharaya

Though : Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Ibbagamuwa – Kumbukgete
distance :125 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Ibbagamuwa – Kumbukgete
distance :28 km
Travel time : 30 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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