Tampita Vihara Heritage of Sri Lanka – ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ පුරාණ ටැම්පිට විහාර​

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Tampita Viharaya (Temple on Pillars, Devapita Viharaya, Devamatha Viharaya)  is a distinctly unique type of image house found in some Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Although there are some proof  older structures these buildings were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the 17th-19th centuries. There are more than two hundred Tempita Viharayas have been identified in Sri Lanka to date. Most of the shrines are found in North Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and Western provinces.

A Tampita Viharaya is built on a wooden platform which rests on number of stone stumps usually 3-4 feet tall. The roof is held by a structure built of timber and the walls are generally made of wattle and daub. A seated Buddha statue is build at the center and more statues of standing Buddhas, deities lie beside the main statue. These are made of clay, timber or limestone.  The inner walls are completely painted in frescoes using sceneries from Jataka stories or Buddhas life.


Although such structures were built as Buddhist image houses, later the same structures has been built and Devales to worship various deities.

The basic structure of the Tampita Viharaya has also evolved in to various forms over time with tampita viharaya being built on a very high pillars with a ground floor being used as a Banamaduwa or Dig-Ge being connected to the viharaya.

After an extensive search, 227 Tampita Viharaya’s have been listed below, most of them with exact locations. Out of the full list, there are 8 site which are in total ruins leaving only the granite stumps which they stood upon. The Tampita Vihara structure remains intact in some form in all other sites. Out the list 7 are Tampita Devala, mostly dedicated Pattini deity, all others are Buddhist temples.

The largest number of Tampita Vihara are found in Kurunegala District which is 68 temples (out of which 1 is a devalaya). This is closely followed by Kegalle District with 58 temples (out of which 3 are devala). Although this architectural feature belongs to the Kandyan era, there are only 18 Tampita Viharaya’s in Kandy district.

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