Gampola Walwasagoda Sri Kataragama Devalaya (ගම්පොල වල්වාසගොඩ ශ්‍රී කතරගම දේවාලය)

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Gampola Walwasagoda Kataragama Devalaya lies within the premisses of Walwasagoda Rajamaha Viharaya shrine situated at Mariyawattha on the road from Gampola to Nawalapitiya in front of Niyamgampaya Viharaya. Its said that there were many forest dwelling monks meditating in the rock caves in this area thus this area was called Wanawasa (forest dwellings) on the older days. This name later became Walwasagoda and now Wallahagoda.

Walwasagoda Rajamaha Viharaya and its devalaya has been constructed by king Buwanekabahu IV (1341-1351) of Gampola Kingdom. The only remining features of historical importance of this temple is the Devalaya premises and the and stupa with the housing.

The Devalaya is dedicated to deity Skanda ( Kataragama). It lies on a elevated ground on the temple. The building complex built on a rock foundation using a combination of granite pillars and brick pillars is simple yet it carries all the architectural features of the Kandyan era temples.

Role in the Sinhalese – Muslim Riots in 1915

The precursor to the 1915 Sinhalese-Muslim riots which flared on 27 January 1915 when Muslims attached a Buddhist religious procession few miles from the town of Kurunegala and spread around the country, started with the annual procession of the Walwasagoda Sri Katharagama Devalaya.

A dispute arose between the Indian Moors and the Buddhist Temple authorities of the Wallahagoda Devalaya (Walwasagoda Kataragama Devalaya) in 1912. The Indian Moors objected to the Police to the 800 year old procession of the devalaya traveling through Ambegamuwa Street en route to the Mahaweli River past their newly built mosque with music, even though older mosques along the same route belonging to Ceylon Moors had no objection.

G. S. Saxton, the Government Agent of the Central Province, as the head of the police in the province, ordered the police to erect markers 100 yards from the mosque and informed the Trustee of the Walwasagoda Dewale to conducted the Perahera without music within the markers on 27 August 1912 as required by the Police Ordinance, No. 16 of 1865 and the Local Boards Ordinance, No. 13 of 1898. Tikiri Banda Elikewela, the Basnayaka Nilame (Chief Trustee) of the Walwasagoda Dewale, consulted the other trustees of Buddhist Temples in the province on the order preventing them conducting the a practice carried-out from time immemorial, safeguarded by the terms of the Kandyan Convention. Due to this, the procession was not held that year.

However after an long legal battle, Paul E Peris, who held the position of Kandy District Prosecutor at that time resolved this delicate case after deliberation for a few days and gave a long judgment. It was declared that the Perahara Gampola of the temple has the power to travel on any road with full band playing and that the action of the government agent will suppress the freedom that the plaintiff had got from the 1815 Kandyan Convension. Thereafter the devalaya procession was resumed from December 1916.

Walwasagoda Rajamaha Viharaya

The most significant feature of the Rajamaha Viharaya is the Stupaghara of the temple. A Stupaghara (Chetiaghara) is a enclosure that surrounds a Stupa for its protection. Stupaghara provided protection not only to the stupa but also to the Buddha statues and other structures around it. In ancient times this is known as Dhatughara. According to Dr Roland Silva, who is an expert in archeology and heritage conservation in Sri Lanka, Stupaghara can be divided into three distinct types.

The original and popular variety here is Vatadage. The enclosure of the stupa is built in a circle. The second type of Stupaghara is the Kuladaga. Most of the houses are square in shape. The third is Chetiyalen (stupa cave). These stupas are built in natural or man made caves. Here the cave fulfills the need of the enclosure.

The Stupaghara of the Walwasagoda is of type Kuludage made popular after 12th century. Kuladage is a type of Stupaghara evolved from Vatadage. There are no records of Vatadage‘s built after the 8th century CE. While Vatadage‘s designs were in decline, Kuludage’s designs, which were simpler and less expensive, emerged from around the 12th century.

References

  1. Seneviratna, A., 1983. Kandy: an Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments With Historical, Archaeological and Literary Descriptions Including Maps of the City and Its Suburbs. Colombo: Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
  2. Ceylon Electricity Board (2012) Moragolla Hydropower Project Feasibility Study Final Report – Volume 3 Enviorenmental Impact Assessment Study . Colombo, Sri Lanka: Ministry of Power and Energy.
  3. 1915 Sinhalese-Muslim riots (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1915_Sinhalese-Muslim_riots (Accessed: December 17, 2022).
  4. Wijayabandara, S. (2015) 1915 සිංහල -මරක්කල කෝලාහලයට මුල්වූ දේවාලයේ කතාව, saaravita.lk. Wijaya Newspapers Limited. Available at: https://www.saaravita.lk/features/1915-e0b783e0b792e0b682e0b784e0b6bd-e0b6b8e0b6bbe0b69ae0b78ae0b69ae0/18-419107 (Accessed: December 17, 2022).

Also See

  • Kandy – The Last Kingdom of Sinhale

Map of Vallahagoda Devale

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Traveling Directions to Vallahagoda Devale

Route from Colombo to Vallahagoda Devalaya Route from Kandy to Vallahagoda Devalaya
Though : Kandy Road – Peradeniya – Gampola
distance : 129 km
Travel time : 4.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Peradeniya – Gampola
distance : 23 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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