Pawurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya (පවුරුකන්ද රජමහා විහාරය)

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Although the midday sun was falling on our heads, we started our pilgrimage to the Punchi Sripada at Pawurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya at Halwala, a village in the Walallawita Divisional Secretary’s division in the Kalutara district.

A few villagers of Halwala joined us to climb, the beautiful hill Paurukanda which is about 510 feet above sea level, it is covered with vegetation. We aimed to reach the summit and pay homage to the footprint of the Buddha and also visit other historical places at Paurukanda.

The history of Paurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya goes back to the Polonnaruwa era. According to the Mahavamsa, after defeating the enemy forces King Wickramabahu fled to Pasyodunrata with his brothers Kirthisrimegha and Sri Wallabha. It is believed that they took refuge at Paurukanda which was a natural fortress because its summit had been surrounded by a stone wall.

Therefore, it has been aptly called ‘Paurukanda’. ‘Paurukanda Vihara is atop Paurukanda.

The footprint of the Buddha had been engraved on a stone at the summit of the hill. So, Paurukanda is knows as Punchi Sripada. There are two paths to climb the hill. One of the paths is better than the other because it goes through scenic surroundings.

A stone flight of steps leads to the summit. The upward journey is not tiresome because the path is shaded by trees. You naturally get a wonderful feeling of peace and serenity when you climb the hill. Even the environment is tranquil except for the sound of birds in flight.

It takes about 40 minutes to climb Punchi Sripada. The summit was a plain area with a few structures such as the stupa, the shrine room, the carved footprint of the Buddha, and the Bo tree.

The ancient shrine room adorned with murals enhances the beauty of the place, which is an archaeological site. Viharadhipathi Mavita Somaloka Thera said that a visitor could see murals belonging to three eras. Vandals and treasure hunters have destroyed some parts of the Buddha statue. Even the ancient statue of the God Vishnu found in the shrine room has been vandalized. However, it has been renovated recently.

The footprint of the Buddha had been carved on an isolated rock in 1838. It is found in front of the shrine room. The stupa is unique because it has been built on a stone structure.

A large cave is found away from the vihara. The cave can accommodate about 400 pilgrims. It is believed that King Manabharana had lived there.

The villagers believe that the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha also had been hidden in the cave. It is believed that there had been a stone canoe among the archaeological remains at the place. But today no one knows the exact place where it was found.

The hill and the surroundings are rich in rare medicinal plants, animals, and birds. But the Viharadhipathi said some unscrupulous elements are felling valuable trees and destroying the natural beauty of the place.

Sunday Observer
by Nivanthi THILAKARATHNE

Also See

Map of Pawurukanda 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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Travel Directions to Pawurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Pawurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Matugama to Pawurukanda Rajamaha Viharaya
Through : Panadura – Aluthgama – Dharga Town
Distance : 80 km
Travel time : 2 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Horawala
Distance : 15 km
Travel time : 20 minutes.
Driving directions : see on google map

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