Makuletenna Raja Maha Viharaya (මකුලතැන්න රජමහා විහාරය)

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– Once a King’s Place for Secret Love Affairs –

While our ancient kings had consorts, they also had a harem of beauties for the king’s additional sensual pleasures. Still, some had love trysts with raving village belles around the kingdom. Such Romeo like kings of old, visited their paramours on the sly.

In the remote corners, off Mahawela, in a serene woodland village lived a beautiful lass, far from other beauties. She became a certain king’s concubine whom he visited often on the sly. As days passed, this mistress of the king bore an illegitimate son. As a result of cast an indelible stigma on the society. Its consequence was that this illegitimate son was boycotted by the king’s subjects of the area, where this girl had lived. It became a royal stigma on the king too. Hence, to remove this tarnished image of his, the wise king got his illegitimate son ordained as a Buddhist monk at this very place called Magultenna where this clandestine love affair started. He built a Vihara that later came to be called Makulatenna Raja Maha Viharaya. The king referred to in this secret love affair, according to the oral traditions of this temple, is named Vijaya Rajasinha (1738-47 A.D.) of the Kandyan period.

Bo tree, Dagoba, gallery of paintings

Makuletenna Raja Maha Viharaya lies on the outskirts of the Matale-Mahawela road, via Kivula, while the other route is through Uda-Veheragama-Kaikawela through Raththota. The turn-off on this route is from Veheragama junction, about six miles away. Looming over this temple premises stands a huge Bo tree, flanked by a creamy dagoba. The Dharmasalawa (Preaching Hall) housed in an imposing but rambling old building is over 150 years old! Its roof is cladded with tiles, and three striking timbered gables. The upstairs is reposed prominently facing the temple compound.

In its frontage ‘veranaha’ lies in all its prominence a column of large colonnades giving a majestic but serene appearance. A wooden staircase leads to its summit, which shelters the Image House ‘Buddhuge’, and the entrance is surmounted overhead the doorway, by the striking ‘ Makara Thorana ’. The walls inside are paintings in all elaboration of figures of awe-inspiring maids and the murals are exquisitely studded with motley designs of lotus flowers and petals. Consecrated there are some standing seated and reclining Buddha statues made of terra-cotta. There are fine paintings on the murals depicting ‘Jataka’ stories too.

Another center of attraction is the well-narrated Sinhala scripts in verse form, spelling out the chronicle of the Raja Maha Vihara from the Kandyan period.

These scriptures on the walls serve as a living mirror to the past antecedents of this historic temple.

It lists the reigns of the kings of the time like Vijaya Rajasinha and Rajaddhi Rajasinha of the 18th century A.D.

In this museum-like gallery, one could find the depiction of the Sannas (decrees given by kings bestowing lands to the temple). These scriptures date back to the Buddhist era of 2290 (late 18th century A.D). Such temple lands gifted by the kings to the temples are engraved on copper plates — ‘Thamba Sannases -, where it mentions the the names of the lands as Udabage, Kiriyavila, and Meduvila. The ‘Bhikku Sanga Peramuna’ meaning the pupillary Bhikku generation had originated from this temple. Its incumbent is (in August 2002), was Ven. Madugalle Sidhatta who gave all the details of its records.

There is also a library housed in the upstairs. The books are preserved in cupboards having glass panes. This Viharage and library together with its ground floor stand on the remains of a Tampita Vihara (vihara on stone pillars) belonging to the ancient period of the Kandyan times. The only relics of this once Tamptia Vihara are a few dwarf stones jotted out from the ground in the compound. Such Tampita Viharas built on stone pillars stood on a wooden platform enshrining the image house, to prevent vermians attacking them.

In the compound ground of the temple, lie the shrines dedicated to the guarding deities, like Kataragama, Ganesh, and Siva. During full moon days, this temple is in high activity, as devotees flock there from Wattegama, Ukuwela, and Mahawela-Matale North.

Makulatenna Raja Maha Viharaya comes under the purview of the Malwatte Temple, Kandy.

by Gamini G. Punchihewa
The Island

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