Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya in Dedigama

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Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya in Dedigama - දැදිගම ලෙනගල රජමහා විහාරය
Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya in Dedigama – දැදිගම ලෙනගල රජමහා විහාරය

Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya at Dedigama is a unique cave temple built on a picturesque hill under a massive cave. It is also home to the largest cave inscription in the Western Province.

The large brahmi inscription of the Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya lies on the ledge of the large cave.  47 large characters are caved on the first line and some more characters can be seen few feet below, carved in 2 lines. The letters are about 7 inches tall and carved 1 inch deep in to the rock

The history of this cave temple goes as far as early Anuradhapura period. It is the general belief that this temple was first built by king Wattagamini Abhaya, better known as king Walagamba (89-77 BC). The temple has been last renovated by the popular Satara Korale Lewke Dissawe during the Kandyan era.

However the inscription at the dripledge of the cave has been determined to be of 2nd century BC dating this temple even further back in history. This inscription mentions that the cave Manapadassana of prince Duhatara, son of prince Siva, Son of prince Duhatara is offered to the sangha of four quarters present and absent (Granted to the cave are) – One lot in Anudigama one lot in Batasha Nagara. This inscription is written in Old Sinhala language using early Brahmi Script.

Lewke Wijewardhana (Wijesundara) Rajakaruna became the Dissawe of the Satara Korale in 1802 during the period of king Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe of Kandyan kingdom. He was renowned for his extraordinary strength, skills in arm to arm combat and for swordsmanship. Many stories are still being told of his various extraordinary abilities including his ability to squeeze open a coconut and swinging a sward dipped in lime chalk so that the tip touched every spectator leaving a trace of lime on their body. In addition to his skills, he was  a devoted Buddhist who had renovated and supported many temples in the area including the Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya.

There is a fairly detailed description of the HCP Bell’s 1892 report on the Kegalle District commonly known as the Kegalle Report.

The cave is divided in to 3 viharayas. The left most temple is called “Sath Sathi Viharaya” . This is 15 feet 10 inches long and 12 feet wide. Entrance of the viharaya is made of large granite pillars carved with foliage and other designs. This entrance is about 6 feet 8 inches tall and 4 feet 2 inches wide and 7 inches thick. All the Buddha statues show features of Kandyan era. Since most of them have not be re painted, the artistic traditions of the Kandyan era is still well preserved. A granite door frame can be seen in front of one of the standing statues in this viharaya. This is believed to be the entrance to a small room which housed the image in earlier times.

The center viharaya called the “Maha Lena” is the largest of the three. This is 31 feet 6 inches long 17 feet 9 inches wide. Entrance of the viharaya is made of large granite pillars carved with foliage. The top column is caved with a bosath image and with deities of Saman, Vishnu and Davatha Bandara. The bottom of the pillars are caved with lions with open jaws. This entrance is 11 feet 6 inches high, 8 feet wide and 9 inches thick.  All the Buddha statues show features of Kandyan era. The main statue in this viharaya is a large reclining Buddha statue. This is 29 feet long and 6 feet wide at the shoulders. On the left wall you will find standing figures of Buddha and deity Vishnu. On the right wall lies another standing Buddha statue with statues of deities Vishnu and Saman. The cave roof is painted with lotus flower designs.

The third Viharaya is smaller, 7 feet 7 inches ling and 10 feet wide. This too has a granite door frame. Nevertheless the designs on these pillars differ from others. At the bottom of the pillar lies two full-front figures of dwarfs, straddle-legged, with one arm raised, holding whips. A Dragon Arch (Makara Thorana) is found at the top of the entrance. A seated Buddha image is found on the opposite wall to the entrance. Statues of deities Saman and Vishnu are found on the left wall and Deity Kataragama is found on the right wall. The paintings in the viharaya is also said to be newer than the other 2. A 10 feet high stupa can be seen inside this viharaya.


  2. H.C.P බෙල් (සිංහල පරිවර්තනය කොත්මලේ කේ. බී. ඒ. එඩ්මන්ඩ් ), 2005. ලංකා පුරාවිද්‍යා ගවේෂණය කෑගල්ල දිස්ත්‍රික්කය පිලිබඳ වාර්තාව (Report On The Kegalle District – 1892 : සිංහල පරිවර්තනය). 1st ed. කොළඹ: පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තුමේන්තුව.

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Map of  Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Lenagala Rajamaha Viharaya

Time to Spend : 30-45   minutes
Distance : 79  km
Travel time : 2.5 hour
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