Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya (පාදෙණිය රජමහා විහාරය)

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The Kurunegala Puttalam road via Wariyapola is excellent driving or should I say flying for that is what it feels like on the fine metal surface of the road strewn on either side with paddy fields, lily-filled lakes and huge ancient trees.

Halfway through right opposite the turn-off to Anuradhapura you will come across a somewhat loud newly built temple wall which is deceptive for within its precincts hides a quaint archeological treasure ever enhanced by its delightful settings. This is the Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya.

So make your way – away and apart from the jarring modern buildings with their progressive extravagances to the ancient temple situated on a low rock overlooking a small lake. The surface of the rock is uneven, and slanting and is the kind of foundation upon which is raised the temple. A few steps with a roughly hewn moonstone (without any carving or other decorations) at the bottom of it, make up the three entrances fitted with waist-high half doors of timber. The building comprises a central shrine room surrounded by an open gallery. The doorway to the shrine room is elaborately decorated. The gallery also includes some heavily carved wooden pillars.

The unique feature of this temple is its brilliantly colored frieze of lions that goes almost all around the four sides of the outer wall. forming a kind of screen between the half wall and the roof. The seated lions with wide-opened mouths baring fierce teeth and tails curled up on their backs are not fierce to behold but are quite cheerful and entertaining.

Running around the edge of the eaves is an edging of terracotta pendant tiles in the shape of bo leaves. On one side alone are found a few rectangular tiles with designs of elephants, bulls, and flowers. The wooden pillars at the edge of the eaves supporting the roof are additions to the original building.

The unique character of this building has made one school of thought suggest a Chinese influence from the 15th century, a time when China had a brief presence in southern Lanka.

But another school of thought considers this akin to many other similarities found in buildings which purports it to be a development of the Kandyan style of the Sinhalese middle ages.

The Bo tree with its own little square around it stands on a higher elevation on an artificial mound of stones shaped into a stepped pyramid and spreads its shade over the traditional double pitched design of the temple roof beneath it. Outside the temple, an ancient stone altar stands alone and away from the more modern tiled altars. Upon its ancient stone tray was placed a bowl of joss sticks which was perfuming the holy precincts.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror

Also See

Map of Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya Route from Kurunegala to Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
Through : Kelaniya – Ambepussa – Kurunegala
Distance : 121 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Bulanawewa
Distance :85 km
Travel time : 1.5 minutes.
Driving directions : see on google map


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