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.
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.
The cave is divided in to 3 viharayas. The left most temple is called “Sath Sathi Viharaya” . This is about 25 feet long and 12 feet wide. Entrance of the viharaya is made of large granite pillars carved with creeper and other designs. This entrance is about 7 feel tall and 5 feel wide. 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 about 30 feet high and 50 feet long. The entrnace to this viharaya is also made out of granite. This entrance is about 11 feet high and 6 feet wide. the columns are caved with creeper designs . The top column is caved with a bosath image and with daities of Saman, Vishnu and Davatha Bandara. This cave contains a large reclining Buddha statue.
The third Viharaya too has a granite door frame. Nevertherless the designs on these pillars differ from others. The painings in the viharaya is also said to be newer than the other 2. A 10 feet high stupa can be seen inside this viharaya.
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
Driving directions : see on google map