Hingurakgoda Unagalawehera Rajamaha Viharaya (හිඟුරක්ගොඩ උණගලාවෙහෙර රජමහා විහාරය)

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Unagalawehera is a village which lies 9 km north of the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa and 7.7 km east of Giritale. Until the early 1900s, the Demala Maha Seya in the ancient Polonnaruwa city was called Unagala Vehera. It was HCP Bell who identified this gigantic stupa as the Demala Maha Seya which was built by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 CE).

Unagalawehera (Unagala Vehera) Viharaya is also a large ancient stupa in the village of Unagalawehera. The Unagalawehera Stupa is the second largest stupa outside of Polonnaruwa Ancient City. The stupa is 30 metres (98 ft) high. Legend has it that the stupa was built with lime mortar and that the layer of plaster was so thick that at that time it was called ‘Hunugal Vehera‘ and later it was known as ‘Unagala Vehera‘.Other sources state that the stupa was later renamed as ‘Unagal Vehera‘ and later as ‘Unagala Vehera‘ due to a lack of stones during the construction of the stupa.

The original stupa had three basal rings, dome, hataraskotuva, devatakotuva and spire. There had been three relic chambers inside the stupa. The lowest relic chamber was in the foundation, the second at the third basal ring level and the third over the second relic chamber.

About three-quarters of the spire was destroyed. At the bottom of the relic chambers, there may have been a receptacle (garbhapatra) over which there may have been trikuta and Mt. Meru topped by the relic
casket. On the four sides of the stupa are the ruins of four image houses (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The massive stupa and the ruins of the Arama Complex is spread over an area of about six acres. The stupa was in absolute ruins. However, this historic stupa was completely reconstructed (not conserved) by then-President Maithripala Sirisena and ceremoniously opened in 24th June 2018.

This historic temple is an ideal place to travel to Polonnaruwa from Habarana. The diversion is only 5km which can be covered in 10 minutes. To reach the temple reach Jayanthipura passing Giritale Reservoir on the Polonnaruwa road. Turn left at the Canal which crosses the main road and travel towards the Jayanthipura Kanishta Vidyalaya. The temple lies 5km down this road.

Unaglavehera Pillar Inscription

The pillar inscription found at the temple provides certain details of this temple complex. Drawing upon historical evidence, Professor Ranwella has asserted that this inscription belongs to the first half of the 10th century and Abha Salamewan mentioned in the inscription corresponds to King Dappula IV.

The square inscription is 5 feet 10 inches high and 10 inches wide on each side. The epigraph contains a decree issued by King Abha Salamevan granting certain immunities of the same land situated in the village named Pahanavaka in the territorial division called Bideravatu-Kuliya in the Eastern Quarter. The said land is owned by a monastery called Puvaram-rad-maha-vehera nar Hinginivalla, which has been affiliated with a monastery named Ritigal-arama. According to Puliyankulama Slab Inscription, dated to the 12th regnal year of Dappula IV, Puvaram-vehera has been attached to the Kapara Fraternity and the Kivulekada Pillar Inscription of King Sena I (833-853) informs that Ritigala-Aramaya was founded by him (Ranawella, 2004).

Therefore it can be deduced that the ancient name of Unagala Vehera had been Ritigala Aramaya and had been built by King Sena I (833-853).

References

  1. Bell, H., (1909). Archaeological Survey of Ceylon – North Central, Central, and Northern Provinces Annual Report 1905. Colombo: Archaeological Department of Ceylon.
  2. Wikramagamage, C., (2004). Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.228.
  3. Ranawella, S. (2004) Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol V (part II). Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka.

Also See

Map of Unagalawehera Rajamaha Viharaya

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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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Travel Directions to Unagalawehera Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Giritale-Polonnaruwa Road to Unagalawehera Rajamaha Viharaya
Via : Jayanthipura
Distance : 5 km
Travel time : 10 mins
Time to Spent : approx 15-30 mins
Driving directions : see on Google map

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