Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya and Devalaya (වේගිරිය රජමහා විහාරය සහ නාථ දේවාලය)

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Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya is situated at Wegiriya about 2.5 km from the Kalu Wahalkada Junction on the Gampola Kandy Road. There is epigraphical evidence to support the existence of human habitation during the early Anuradhapura period. The local belief is that some of the companions of Theri Sanghamitta had taken up residence in the caves in this locality. The word Wedisagiri influenced the formation of the word Wegiri. Another local etymology is that King Buwanekabahu IV (1341-1351) of the Gampola Kingdom had seen the statue of the deity Natha covered by an ant hill up to the neck. Hence the name Wegiriya.

The Viharaya has a sedent Buddha image and a stupa, There are two beautiful stone cut moonstones at the entrances of both the Viharaya (temple) and the Devalaya and a stone doorway in the former. The Devalaya is dedicated to Deity Natha.

The temple has a long history supported by Brahmi inscriptions belonging to the pre-Christian era at a cave with a drip ledge which is called “Vavul Gal Lena”. The construction of the temple is attributed to “Mayim Bandara”.

Two beautiful statues of Natha and his consort Tara made of clay or stucco can be found inside the Devale. During the Kandy period, Natha was the highest ranking deity and then there were Vishnu, Kataragama and Patini in that order. It is also believed that the “Natha” appeared in many forms in Sri Lanka in different regions and during different Eras. One of these forms is the “Avaloktheeshvara” Bodhisattva who is a highly worshipped Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism.

Since Natha worship was introduced to the country during the 6th and 7th centuries it can be believed that the devala had been constructed during that period. A Natha Devalaya in Dorawaka in the Kegalle district, support the prevalence of Ntha worship in these areas. The cave accommodates a small shrine room. An annual pageant is held in honour of the deity Pattini in the same complex (Abeyawardhana,2004).

A rock inscription dated Saka year 1357 ( 1415 AD) records benefactions to Lokeshvara Natha in the reigns of Vickramabahu III (1357-1374) and Buwanekabahu V (1371-1408) of the Gampola Kingdom.

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. Abeyawardhana, H. A. P. (2004) Heritage of Kandurata: Major Natural, Cultural, and Historic Sites. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Also See

  • Kandy – The Last Kingdom of Sinhale

Map of Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya

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Traveling Directions to Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya Route from Kandy to Wegiriya Rajamaha Viharaya
Though : Kandy Road – Kadugannawa
distance : 117 km
Travel time : 4-4.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Peradeniya – Gampola Road – Weligalla
distance : 18 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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