Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya (මාතොට පුරාණ රජමහා විහාරය)

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Mathota (, one of the earliest ports in Sri Lankan history, is the location where Prince Vijaya, the first link of Sinhalese origin landed in the 6th century BC. The area with the copper coloured sand was called Thambapanni. Until about the 12th century,  Manthota ( aka Mahathiththa) was one of the busiest ports connecting India, China and Persian Gulf countries.

Mathota is most known for the Thiruketheeswaram Kovil which is one of the five main kovils scattered around the country dedicated to God Siva. But a few hundred meters away from this kovil lies the Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya (Manthai Rajamaha Viharaya) unknown to many.

The builder of this ancient temple is not known and no research has been done on the historic value of this temple. There are six ancient Bodhi trees at the temple indicating that it would have been an important temple complex in the ancient past. 

Some archaeological monuments (part of a Buddha statue, a Bodhisattva statue, a fragment of Pillar inscription, and several stone pillars), presently at Mantota Rajamaha Viharaya been discovered when constructing the road to the Thiruketheeswaram Kovil. This road connects the Kovil and Pooneryn road and it passes by the Manthai Viharaya. The Buddha statue has been dated to the 4th century and the Bodhisattva statue is believed to be the 8th century.

A pillar inscription found at the site has been dated to the 10th century. Although mostly wasted, this inscription states a victory and a donation of 500 statues to the temple. A large number of granite pillars, granite steps, various items carved out of rock and a few torsos of Buddha ( also carved out of granite) is all that remains today of its glorious past.

Unfortunately, no study or excavation work has been carried out on this site.


  • IUCN (2011) Biodiversity and Socio-economic Information of selected areas of Sri Lankan side of the Gulf of Mannar: Report submitted by IUCN Sri Lanka Country Office to BOBLME Project Component 2.4 Collaborative Critical Habitat. Colombo, Sri Lanka: IUCN Sri Lanka Country Office.

Also See

Map of Ancient Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Ancient Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Anuradhapura to Mathota Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Negombo – uttam – Eluwankulama
Distance : 262 km
Travel time : 6 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Madawachchiya
Distance : 110 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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