Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya – පනලිය ගෝඨාභය ගල්ලෙන් රජමහා විහාරය

Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya
photo by : Senanayaka Bandara

Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya is an ancient cave temple on a 400 feet high rocky outcrop 5km off Polgahawela towards Rambukkana.

According to an ancient text which the temple was in possession , this temple complex has been built by king Gotabhaya who ruled the Ruhunu kingdom in the 2nd century BC. According to oral history, the priests has deserted this temple during the reign of  Sithawaka Rajasinghe I (1581 – 1592) due his anti Buddhist stance and murder of hundreds of monks.  During the era of king Wimaladharmasuriya I (1592 – 1604) of Kandy, the Portuguese are said to put up camp at the site of the temple on the way to attack Kandy and had destroyed all the Buddha statues at the temple. The temple has been rebuilt by the Meegasthanne Adikaram and handed over to Thibbotuwawe Siddhartha Buddharakkitha thero.

The cave temple (image house), a pillar inscription dated to 9-10th centuries and a Siri Pathul Gala  are the archaeologically significant items in this temple.

The image house of the temple lies in a large cave with a drip-ledge and consists of a inner and an outer chamber. The outer chamber has been a later addition. The inner chamber is 17.28 meters long. Entrance to the image house though two doors. The one on the left is a 1.8 meter high 80cm wide wooden door frame. The horizontal bar of the frame is made of stone in the Suryawanka design. Two guardian deities flank the door. These statues seems to have been sculptured in early 1900’s.  The other entrance is a 2.08 meter high 1.12 meter wide wooden door frame. Here too, the horizontal bar of the frame is made of stone however in the Chandrawanka design.

The main reclining Buddha statue fills the image image house. The head and the body of the statue and been re constructed affecting the antiquity of the statue. On the left lies a Vishnu statue and on the right wall a standing Buddha statue. This Buddha statue too has lost its antiquity with later renovations. Most of the paintings of the image house seems to have been done recently and lacks any artistic significance. Only the paintings of the right wall still shows some originality and seems to have been done during the late 1800’s or early 1900’s and has some historic value.

Southwest to the image house you would find an ancient Siri Pathul Gala in a small cave.  These carved foot prints of Buddha were used as object of worship before the time of Buddha statues.

A pillar inscription belonging to the 9th-10th centuries can be found at the top of the rock where the image house lies.  Three more caves are found northwest to the image house. There is no visible indication of any habitation of these caves and no archaeological exploration has been carried out.

Primary Source : ගවේෂන – 2 කලාපය – වයඹ පලාතේ පුරාවිද්‍යා ගවේෂන – 1 අදියර විශේෂ කලාපය – පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තුමේන්තුව
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Also See

Map of Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya and Other Places of Interest


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Driving Directions to Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Polgahawela to Panaliya Gotabhaya Gallen Rajamaha Viharaya

Though : Nittambuwa – Ambepussa – Alawwa – Polgahawela
Distance : 82 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours
Time to spend : 30-45 mins
Driving directions : see on google map
Though :
Distance : 5 km
Travel time : 10 mins
Time to spend : 30-45 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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