Shailabembaramaya Viharaya at Dodanduwa (දොඩන්දූව ශෛලබිම්බාරාමය මහා විහාරය)

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This ancient Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya temple is located close to a 103 km post along the Galle – Colombo main road near the Dodanduwa Railway Station. Considered as the base for Sri Kalyanawamsa Chapter, this temple was built in the early 19th century. Around A.D.1819 a small Image House was built, then added a “Sanghavasa (Priests’ residence) and offered the temple to Ven Kataluve Gunarathana Thero, who obtained higher ordination in Myanmar in A.D.1808.

The stone-seated Buddha Statue presently at the temple was brought from Kaveri, South India in A.D.1839. Present Image House was built after A.D.1837 and completed with mural paintings in A.D. 1877. The Image House has a very special place in the temple layout and was built according to Dutch style. The Front Veranda has large arches and there are three doorways to enter the inner chamber. Both interior and outside walls of the inner chamber are covered with exquisitely painted wall paintings, which include the arrival of Theri Sangamitta with the Sacred Bo- Tree.

This temple played a major role in the revival of Buddhism in the colonial era. Dodanduwa Sri Piyaratana Tissa Mahanayake Thero attached to this temple was instrumental in starting the first Buddhist School in the county after colonial rulers replaced the thousand-year-old education system in Sri Lanka with the missionary schools of their own.  A statue of Sri Piyaratana Thero, the unsung hero who placed Dodanduwa in the annals of the education history in Sri Lanka stands at the turn-off to the Shailabimbaramaya from the Galle Road. A hundred yards from the turnoff and before the temple are a set of walled-in school buildings of Dodanduwa Piyaratana Vidyalaya which was opened in 1869 as a challenge to the missionary education system on either side of the road. Unfortunately, this school now stands on the brink of being closed down due to a lack of facilities.

Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya was also the first stay of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott who landed in the Galle port of Sri Lanka in 1880 and formally became a Buddhist in Wijayananda Viharaya located at Weliwatta. Thereafter he spent 11 days at Shailabembaramaya. It is also said that S. Mahinda Thero has used this temple extensively while authoring his books writings. The room which he used along with the other items such as the bed, chair and bookshelf can still be seen at the Shailabembaramaya today.

Alternate Names : Shylabimbrama Viharaya, Shylabimbramaya, Shyilabimbrama Viharaya, Shyilabimbramaya

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Map of Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya Viharaya at

Route from Colombo to Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya Viharaya Route from Galle to Dodanduwa Shailabembaramaya Viharaya
Through : Southern Highway
Distance : 117 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Ginthota – Ratgama
Distance : 12.5 kilometers
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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