Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya (අම්බලන්ගොඩ සුනන්දාරාම මහා විහාරය)

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Sunandarama Maha Vihara, also known as Ambalangoda Maha pansala is located in Southern part of, Sri Lanka. It’s situated 65 kilometres north of Colombo, 36 kilometres south of Galle and 200 meters East of Ambalangoda railway station. This sacred place holds a land of nearly 5 acres. Traditionally this Viharaya belongs to “Vilegoda”, “Nambimulla”, “Maha Ambalangoda” and “Paniyanduwa” which are known as “Sathara Peruwa” (the four states which are benefited by the Viharaya). Since the early days, these states have been provided the support to maintain the Viharaya. Early before this place became a vicar, it was known that “Ganninanselaya” stayed here.

Sunandarama Viharaya has been interred in two stories which are known as “Maluwa”.In the basement synagogue (“Dharmashalawa”), monastery (“Awasa”), saīmaāgaeya and alms hall (“Dhana shalawa”) are situated.”Vihara”,”Sacred Bodhi” and “Statue house” are located in the first floor.  The Sacred Bodhi is a shrine in this Vihara.


Sunandarama Maha Viharaya dates back to the 18th century BCE. In 1750 the “Bodhi” was planted according to the belief. In that time this temple was a residence for nuns. But Sunandarama Maha Viharaya systematically started in 1970. Vilegoda Punnasara thero’s moving from Aluthwala Nanadarama shrine was the starting of Sunandarama Vihara shrine. Vilegoda Punnasara thero had eleven clerical students.

The Statue house is the most ancient building which belongs to the “Kandy” era. Artist Manju Sri said that the main stone door frame and the right-hand side door frame of the statue house were created by Thotagamu temple artists. It seems that the present statue is older than the statue house created in 1803.

The recumbent statue and the standing statue included in the hall’s walls and the ceiling was created by P.N Jakolis who lived in Galle and his two assistant artists. The bell-shaped cairn was created in 1843 . The synagogue was built in 1846 and two storied building was constructed in 1893.

A small statue house on the second floor was built in 1886; a marble Buddha statue which is placed in that hall is a gift from Burma.

Frescoes (Murals)

The artistic murals in the Sunandharama Viharaya are notable examples of ancient Sri Lankan art and crafts. These frescoes are similar to the frescoes at “Thotagamu Viharaya“, which were sketched by an artist from “Sathara Koralaya” (an area consisting of four states of the up countryside of Sri Lanka) around 1805.

Tha main Arch of Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya
Tha main Arch of Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya
By KtsenuriOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

These frescoes portray sundry “Jathaka Stories” (the stories which portray previous birth stories of Lord Buddha) like “Vessanthara”, “Sachchankira” and “Mandhathu” “jathaka stories”, including the “Vessanthara Jathaka Story”. Even though hill country tradition is local to the hill country temples’ artwork the frescoes here belong to the hill country tradition. Red, brown, black and blue are the main colours used in these murals.

Picturesque arch

The bell arch or the picturesque Pandol is the most significant creation of this Viharaya. This is the only concrete arch with this amount of precise carvings in Sri Lanka and is 30 m high and 18 m wide.

Ancient security figures and “MakaraThorana” (a Panadol with a figure of a dragon) are carved for four stories. For every story, six security caves have been created. So this depicts a whole security squad for the “Vihara.”

A mechanical bell has been attached for the third floor and it weighs 250 kg. It works from a machine placed on the first floor. The sacred footprint of “Lord Buddha” is carved on the fourth floor to enhance the dignity and respect towards “Lord Buddha”.

Gehenna of Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya
Gehenna of Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya
By KtsenuriOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The construction was begun in 1876 by Mr. Junwanwadu Endoris De Silva. Various artists worked on this arch under his guidance. After the death of Endoris De Silva in 1895, his son took his place. However, the construction took over 40 years to be completed.

To hold the weight of the three-storied carvings the base of the arch was constructed on a railway track with the help of the engineers of railway service. According to the resources [which?], the cost of the construction was held by the locals.


“Gehenna” also known as “hell” was another creation in the Vihara. It’s situated on the eastern side of the temple complex. It’s a large concrete creation with a basement “Lkumbu”(strong) hell and various tunnels there. Its constructions were started in 1928 but its work has not been completed yet.


The sacred “Bodhi” here is known to be one of the eight branches (plants) from the sacred “Sri Maha Bodhi”. This “Bodhi” was planted in around 1750 even before the “Vihara” started here.


The conservation of this temple complex has been started since 1988 with the reconstruction committee for the “arch”. But still, now the locals are doing their best to conserve this piece of work for the generations to come. So the deteriorating frescoes have been objected to re-painting and re-constructing.

Also See

Map of Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Ambalangoda Sunandarama Maha Viharaya

Route from Ambalangoda Bus Station  to Sunandarama Maha Viharaya
Time to Spend : 30 – 60 minutes
Distance :750 km
Travel time : less than 10 mins
Driving directions : see on google map


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