Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya

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The stupa discovered in 2012 and restored by the department of achaeology at the Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya
The stupa discovered in 2012 and restored by the department of achaeology at the Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya
Photo by : Tharaka Dasun

Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya is an temple with a history of over 2300 years lying between Polgahawela and Kegalle. This temple is so named due to its close association with Maliyadeva thero who is believed to be last Maha Arahath of Sri Lanka.

According to the Manoratha Purni Atuwa in Anguththara Nikaya (මනෝරථ පූර්ණී අංගුත්තරනිකාය අටුවාව), Maliyadeva Thero has been last Arhath in the ancient Sri Lanka although some dispute this claim.

Maliyadeva Thero had been born to Udapola Bowalapitiye Champaka Bodhiguptha, a decedent of a Kshathiya caste prince who had accompanied theri Sangamitta to Sri Lanka in 249BC. The child had entered priesthood at the temple in Kurunegala and later come to the current Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya. Here he had attained Arhathhood after gaining indeapth knowlage of the Buddhist teachings at a very young age.


According to legend, this temple has been built by king Gotabhaya who ruled the Ruhunu kingdom in the 2nd century BC. However according to Bell’s Kegalle Report this temple has been built by king Gotabhaya (253-266) of Anuradhapura kingdom. But according to palm leaf manuscript, “Wattaram Asna” (වට්ටාර‍ම් අස්න) this temple complex has been built by the deity named Viskam (Vishwa Karma) on the request of Maha Brhama who had divided the land to 12 sections and built 12 aramas at the site.

Unfortunately this temple has been modernized with no regard to the antiquary.  You will find remains of two buildings belonging to the Anuradhapura era today.

Ruins of the ancient Mahamali Paya (මහාමලී පාය) which is said to be built in the model of Lohamahapaya in Anuradhaura. Instead of 1600 pillars, this has been built using 35 granite pillars. The pillars are 10 feet 6 inches high and 1×1 feet in size. Five rows each 0ccuping seven pillars had held the five storied building.  According to legend, this has been a five storied building with the upper floors built with wood.

Close to this ruins of a smaller building  which has been the residence built by king Gotabhaya for Maliyadeva Thero. Escavations carrieds out at this building in 2017 has unearthed rare bronze figures of possibly a guard and a two elephant statue at about a deapth of about 1 meter.

සමිට මලිය දෙව් සැදි තුන් මල්        පාය
මලිය මහා පාය පස් මහලින්        සෑදිය
සමිට මලියදෙව් පිදු ඒ කැප             පාය
එයට බමුණු වඩනා නමකුත්         වේය

In 2012, the department of archaeology excavated an mound of earth in a coconut grove belonging to the temple and unearthed a medium size stupa. This stupa has been built on an octagonal platform with a brick retaining wall. The stupa and the platform has been completely restored now.  However the relics of the stupa had been stolen by treasure hunters long before its recent discovery.  According to the display board erected by the archaeology department, this stupa indicates features of the Anuradhapura kingdom era and based on the legend, this possibly would have been built by king Gotabhaya (253-266).

The hexagonal image house at the temple belongs to to the Kandyan Era. The entrance to this image house is through an exquisitely carved large wooden door frame and a door. The statues and the paintings in the image house still retains the originality even thorough the paintings are now in a dilapidated state due to lack of maintenance.

Another image house from the same era is found with a mandapa in front. In front of this building lies a ancient Siri Pathul gala (foot imprint of of Buddha) and an ancient pillar inscription. This inscription describes donation of twenty kalanda of gold to the Sirisangabo Rajamha Vehera for the provision of meals to the priests on the full moon poya day of month of Medin (March) in the 7th year of King Abaya Salamevan (914-923). It also mention that if any monk give food prepared with this funds to any other outside the monastery, that he will be expelled from the viharaya.

The temple is also one of the four recipients of the pure gold (damba-ran) buddha statues which was carried from India by Maliyadeva Thero. These four statues were kept at Wattarama Rajamaha Viharaya, Kothmale Puhulpitiya Rajamaha Viharaya, Hanguranketha Madanwala Rajamaha Viharaya and Padiyapelella Morapaya Rajamaha Viharaya. This statue was stolen sometime ago and had been recovered sans some parts from the arms which had been cutaway by the plunderers.

You can reach this temple from Polgahawela (5km) through Moragolla and from Kegalle (8km) through Devalagama.


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Also See

Map of Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya

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Travel Directions to Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya

From Kegalle to Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha ViharayaFrom Polgahawela to Wattarama Sri Arahantha Maliyadeva Rajamaha Viharaya
Though : Moragolla
Distance : 5 km
Travel time : 10 mins
Time to Spend : about 15-  minutes
Driving directions : see on Google Map
Though : Devalagama
Distance : 8 km
Travel time : 15 mins
Time to Spend : about 15-30  minutes
Driving directions : see on Google Map

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