Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya – Ratnapura – රත්නපුර පොත්ගුල් රජමහා විහාරය

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The ancient cave image house of Ratnapura Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya
The ancient cave image house of Ratnapura Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya
photo licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 by Indika Sandaruwan

Rathnapura Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya is a picturesque cave temple built on top of a hill believed to be built by king Vatta Gamini Abhaya better known as king Walagamba ( (89-77 BC) in the 1st century. It had been renovated during the days of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781) of the Kandy period. There are two temples belonging to these two periods withing the Pothgul Viharaya.

The cave image house at the temple is the most historically significant section of the temple. The  27 cubit (40 feet) reclining Buddha statue across the image house is carved out of the natural rock. Statues of deities Saman and Vishnu are found close to the head of Buddha statue.

At the end of the compound with the Bo tree there is a natural well known as ‘Daru Pokuna’ (child pond). There is a belief that the water of the pond has medicinal properties. Below the rock there are two meditation cells and at the end of the Vihara compound is a cell used by guards. A secret tunnel is visible. The ceiling of the cave is covered with beautiful frescoes.

It is said that the after Thripitakaya was documented in Pali at Matale Alu Viharaya during the time of king Walagamba , more copies were sent to this temple for distribution thus became to known as Pothgul (library) viharaya.

On the ground of the temple you will find a ancient Tampita Viharaya.  Tampita Vihara were a popular architectural feature of temples during the Kandyan era. Here the temple is built on top of granite stumps with wooden platform laid across the stumps. Thi structure probably belongs the period of  King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe oh

This temple can be reached by traveling 3.2 kms along the Ratnapura-Palawela road and a further distance of 3.2 kms from the Kotamulla Junction turning right at Karangoda Vidyalaya and travelling another 0.5 Km after having crossed the river. This is a new route provided to have access to the temple. Before reaching the junction close to Karangoda Vidyalaya there is a small bridge that should be crossed on foot. To reach the precincts of the Viharaya, a total of 454 steps will have to be climbed.

Primary Source : Heritage of Sabaragamuwa By Abeyawardana H.A.P

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Map of Ratnapura Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Ratnapura Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Ratnapura to Pothgul Rajamaha Viharaya

Time to Spend : 1 hour
Distance :5 km
Travel time : 1o min + climb.
Driving directions : see on google map

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