Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya at Ritigahawatta – රිටිගහවත්ත කඩාල රජමහා විහාරය

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Ancient Stupa of Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya

Ancient Stupa of Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya
Image courtesy of Dr. Ashan Geeganage

There are two notions on the construction of the Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya in Monaragala. It is said that this temple had been erected by the second son of King Saddathissa called Lajjathissa when he ruled the Ruhunu area. Similarly in folklore it is mentioned that this temple had been erected by the King Walagamba.

There are three roads that one can follow to teach the Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya. The first is from Monaragala to Mariarawa. One has to reach Mariarawa by a vehicle and then walk around four miles through the subway that runs through Mediyagolla village. Second one runs through Buddagama. If one comes through that way he/she has to come to Buddagama by bus and then walk three miles in Baduluwela road and then to walk in the jungle road that leads to Ritigahawaththa village. This is considered as the easiest way to reach the temple.

The third road runs through Bambaragala mountain in Meeyagala village. If you come from this way you can come to up to the fourth milepost by bus in Monaragala – Mariarawa road and walk thereon. You will reach Miyagala mountain after Ihawa hamlet. Then you have to climb the said mountain and reach Madawellanda village and reach Ritigahawaththa by walking two miles thereon. This is the most difficult and distance road to reach the temple.

Kadala temple is said to have been built on 3 levels.  Stupa and the related compound paved with stone slabs is considered as the top floor.  The dagaba had been constructed using tabular shape bricks which is consistent of the bricks of Anuradhapura era. The flower offering stone slab is fitted on stone pillars. This slab is 10×4 feet in size. Decorative work around the edges has been adds  esthetic value 0f the slab.

There are four stone pillars around the stupa which show the boundaries. These boundary pillars exist as backings of the compound paved with stone slabs. The stupa and the related parts have been constructed in this stony boundary compound. There is a stone steps to climb up to the higher boundary compound. At the foot of the stairs a plain moonstone made out of rock. Two stone gutters alongside the stupa has been constructed to channel the water collected at the top to the lower ground. This is a unique feature of the Kadala temple. Such stone gutters are not seen on stupas built in the Anuradhapura Era.

The second layer below the stupa consists of large number of stone pillars which probably is only remains of  a ancient shrine room. Presently a small shrine room has been constructed in that compound.  The 3rd and the last layer consists of the Bo tree. Ruins of ancient flower alters made out of stone slabs and stone pillars can be seen around the bo tree. Some seats carved out of rock also can be seen in this area and it is assumed that the monks who lived at that time may have used those  seats to spend the leisure time.

The entrance of the temple too is a unique artistic creation. The stairs of the entrance had been made of subtle stone slabs with the size of 10x04x10 feet. There are two stone  lamps carved out on top of stone pillars can be seen beside the steps. Those are considered unique artistic creations. Two stone slabs carved the images of two tuskers are located beside the stairs. Those may be balustrades that have been fixed to protect the balance of the stairs. The carvings on those balustrades are very charming and artistic. These balustrades having the carvings of tuskers are also rare.

Beside the stairs that leads to the lower compound of the temple there are two stone pillars that are 5.6 feet in height. Those are significant evidence that shows the history of the area. On the face of one of the said stone pillars carvings of the Sun and the moon can be seen.  Similarly carvings of swords and other weapons that can be assumed as used by the ancient people can be seen on the pillars.

Brahmi letters on one of the epigraphs found in this temple are not clear. On the back face of the second pillar carvings of the sun, moon, dhamma chakka, palmyra-fan, and two images of animals can be seen. It is difficult to identify those two animal images. On the other space of the pillar the images of the moon and birds are carved. There is a notion that the images of the birds may be of the crows. The Buddhist devotees of the area hold the view point that the symbols that can be seen in the ancient ruins of this temple denotes that this temple had been devoted to the Maha Sanga and those who destroy the belongings of Maha Sanha would born as dogs and crows.

Most of the area belonging to the temple is covered in thick jungle today. More ruins of are hidden in the thick jungle which are yet to be restored. The stone seat at the temple is said to be used by the King Walagamba is special among other creations.  Moonstones, ruins of ancient buildings can be seen all over the jungle in this area. The images of the parrots that had been fixed on the said stone seat seems to be made in a different place and brought here to fix on it.

There are seven drip ledge caves on the hill which lies  just 500 meters away from the stupa. These caves would have given shelter to meditating monks of the temple in the ancient past.

There are ruins of a water trench surrounding the temple. It is said in folklore that it had been constructed for the protection of the temple. This water trench had been constructed in a way so that the water of Meeyal Oya flows around the temple before making back to the oya. The ruins of a on the embankment of the Meeyala Oya provide evidence to prove it.

There had been seven attendant stupas around the Kadala temple which shows the boundary of the temple but those had been destroyed by the treasure hunters. Now those stupa’s can be seen as just lumps of soil with huge trees grown on top them.

(All the details mentioned here had been quoted from the book called “Atadahas rate aprakata punyabhumi” of Mr K B Rathnayaka in Dambagalla)

Also See

Map of Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya

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The above marker points to a approximated location, see directions above.

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 Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Monaragala to Ritigahawatta Kadala Rajamaha Viharaya

Though : Monaragala
distance : 60 km
Travel time :1. 15  hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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