Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya – සිත්තම්ගල්ලෙන රජමහා විහාරය

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Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya

Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya – by Dr Ashan Geeganage

Siththamgallena (Sittamgallena) Raja Maha Viharaya  is an ancient cave temple located in a picturesque backdrop in the remote village of Warapitiya in Walasmulla nestled at the foot of the Rammalkanda mountain range . This temple has been called Sitiyan Gallen in ancient texts and has a history going far back to King Wattagamini Abaya popularly known as king Walalgamba (89-77 BC).

The temple again comes to prominence in the 11th century when invadors from Chola, India captured the then capital of Anuradhapura and took King Mahinda V captive and move their administrative capital to Polonnaruwa ending a era of a  1500 year old capital.

The Cholas held the power for 53 years until a prince from the south rose against the invaders and took power in Polonnaruwa in 1070. This prince Vijayabahu is said to have lived in Siththamgallena Temple since he was 18 till 36 consolidating power in the south and recruitng and building an army to fight the invaders. After defeat of the Cholas he was consecrated as King Vijayabahu I in Anuradhapura as his forefathers but ruled from Polonnaruwa.

Legend and folklore has it that it is also in this temple that the Sacred Tooth Relic was hidden for protection from foreign invaders.

The Siththamgallena (Sittamgallena)  Temple consists of 2 cave image houses with 18 riyan Buddha images, a devale dedicated to Rajjuru Bandara and a stupa at the summit of the rock. The stupa is of recent origin, built after the treasure hunters had destroyed the original stupa.

This temple which had forgotten with time was revived in 1920 when Agalabada Sobitha Thera started developing this temple again. Later a devale dedicated to Deity Rajjuru Bandara has been constructed at a later date.

Today the temple is most popular for the annal perehara for deity Rajjuru Bandara which has become a national event. The origins of the perahera stems from the dream a Ayurveda physician of the area, Maddumage Siyadoris, who also served as the Kapuwa of the Sittamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya, saw, beckoning him to hold the annual perahera. That was the year 1968. The perahera was started as in his dream with one elephant and finally it has now grown to a national level with state patronization.

The Rammal mountain range

The Rammal mountain range and plateau is situated on a soft slope at 2,700 feet above Mean Sea Level. The plateau, which extends up to 268m in height, stretches to the Sinharaja Rainforest through the Morawakkorale. This is also the highest point among the mountains in Mulkirigala, Naigala, Handugala and Dehigahahena. There are smaller mountains among them, including Deniya Kada, Bengamukanda and Hulang Kanda, which envelope into idyllic surroundings. The location is around 48km from the Tangalle town. There is also the vegetation that is typical of the lower montane rainforests, which has trees of valuable wood, such as Hora, Bakmee. Malburutha and Weniwel.

It is from the Rammal Kanda from which the Kirama Oya meanders, feeding the roots of the Nilawala Ganga.  It is from the Rammal Kanda that the Sapugahadola Waterfall, which is the only picturesque fall in Hambantota, can be seen. It is also through the Rammal mountain range that the Dutch built the road and the fortress to transport salt from Hambantota to the upcountry areas. There have been a large number of historical data that has been unravelled from the fortresses there, which specify the international relationships between the people of Giruwapattuwa and foreigners in the 16th Century.

There are three definitions which envelop the name Rammal. One is Sonmalaya, as per the Mahawamsa listing. The other is that it is a depiction of a shrub forest.  Another definition is the mountain of war. The Mahawamsa also has chronicled that there have been wars in this area in the 11th and 12th Centuries. R.L. Brohier has defined this as Rammeli. The mountain range is also famous after deity, Rajjuru Bandara, and is also known as the Rajjuru Bandara plateau as he is said to have been in charge of the area.

The Rammal mountain range is also famous for traditional curd and kithul treacle. Kithul treacle from Katuwana and curd from Kirama have been hailed as one of the best combinations in the country.

Also See

Map of the Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya


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Driving Directions to Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya

Route from Kandy to Siththamgallena Raja Maha Viharaya

Though : Walasmulla
Distance : 50 km
Travel time : 1.15 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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