Mahakachchakodiya Purana Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya (මහකච්චකොඩිය පුරාණ ගල්ලෙන් රජමහා විහාරය)

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Mahakachchakodiya is an ancient remote village in Vavuniya about 13 km away from the town.  This is one of the few Sinhalese villages to survive the brutal LTTE terrorists in the Vavuniya district. This is a historically important location since Nandimithra, one of the ten giant warriors of King Dutugemunu (161-131 BC) is said to have been born at Erawpotana in Mahakachchakodiya.

According to legend when Prince Dutugemunu defeated Elara, it is said that the villagers at this location flew a flag made of Redi Kachchiya ( a 10-yard-long cloth) thus became known as Kachchi Kodiya.

Mahakachchatkodi in Kilakkumulai South, which is one of the earliest settlements in the Wanni, also probably dates from pre-Christian times. Its Sinhalese name is Tittaveli (Lewis, 1895).

Parker reports in 1886 that at Mahakachchatkodi there are rocks, caves, and the remains of several monastic edifices. There are the ruins of Poya-Ge; two parallel rows of plain-squared pillars, five on one side and three on the other were still standing. At the end is a flight of steps with one of the guardstones visible; in the middle is a heap of debris. Further, in the jungle were a stone altar and door-post. The limits of the square enclosure of the temple were marked by a line of cut stones.

In one of the caves which was converted into a Buddhist temple, which is said to have been the ancient image house, are two headless stone images of Buddha, but both heads are forthcoming. Outside are the bases and feet of these images, and five stones, each having a representation of the sri pathula, or sacred feet of Buddha.

One of the sri pathula stones was much larger than the others and had a bevelled edge. Cut on all the stones between the two feet is a curious ornament, which looks like a vase with a closed lotus flower depending on each side of it.

Lewis in 1889 reports that on the top of the hill are the ruins of a stupa with an octagonal pillar at the top, and also of another Poya-Ge, similar to the first one, but with fewer pillars standing (Lewis, 1895).

Mahakachchakodiya and its surrounding area were inaccessible to the public for almost 30 years (up to 2009) due to the LTTE Tamil terrorist activity but still shows signs of being a thriving community with Buddhist monastic ruins scattered all over the region.

Mahakachchakodiya Purana Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya lies on such an ancient monastic ruined ground. The temple lies between the Mahakachchakodiya reservoir and a hillock among the lush green paddy fields.  As if going through an identity crisis, the temple’s new buildings built on ancient drip ledge caves and rocks create a unique atmosphere from the surrounding area.

Rev Medhānanda Thero reported in 2005 that ;

One cave is a shrine The paint on the walls of the cave is still seen as patches. Two lime stone Buddha torsos are inside. A stone seat that supported a statue is now lying at the foot of the rock close to this cave. In one of my earlier visits, I saw seven Foot Print slabs here, but now there are only five of them remaining. Pillars attached to a foundation are seen and it can be concluded that it was a shrine and later the Buddha statues were shifted to the cave shrine.

A little away from the monastery are the remains of another square building. Nine stone pillars remain, while pieces of tiles and bricks are strewn all around. On the top of a small rock is a stupa about eleven feet in height and thirty five feet in circumference. Much harm was done to the stupa. The Central pillar 8 in height is lying prostrate on the stupa. A footprint stone quite different in appearance and size lies near the stupa.

Considering the other remnants around, we can say that Mahakachchakodiya viharaya was a large monastery. The archaeological finds say that it existed from the Pre Common Centuries to recent times. Non-Buddhist people’s damages to many valuable objects are seen in regard to all constructions.

Despite its modern look, the ancient Sri Pathula Gal and the Yupa Gala hidden away in shrubs offer some insight into the antiquity of the temple. Sri Pathula Gala was used as an object of worship before the development of the Buddha statue in the 2nd century. Yupa Gala is also seen in the earliest form of stupas. In addition, 23 drip-ledge caves, some with ancient rock inscriptions have been identified in the temple premises.

References

  • Medhananda, E. (2005) The Sinhala Buddhist Heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Dayawansa Jayakody & Company.
  • Lewis, J.P. (1895). Manual of the Vanni Districts (Vavuniya and Mullaittivu), of the Northern Province, Ceylon. 1st ed. Colombo: H.C. Cottle, Acting Govt. Printer.
  • Brohier, R., 1980. Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon. 1st ed. Colombo: Ministry of Mahaweli Development.
  • Lewis, J.P. (1895) “Archaeology of Wanni,” Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society , 23(1893-1894), pp. 156–176.

Also See

Map of Mahakachchakodiya Purana Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Mahakachchakodiya Purana Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Anuradhapura to  Mahakachchakodiya Purana Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya
Distance : 66 km
Travel time : 1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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