Yatawatta Purana Viharaya (Pahalagama)

Yatawatta Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama
Yatawatte Purana Viharaya, also known as Vidyaravindra Maha Pirivena (Sinhala: යටවත්ත පුරාණ ටැම්පිට විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Pahalagama in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

The history of the Yatawatta temple runs back to the reign of King Parakramabahu VI [(1412–1467 A.D.) Jayasundara, 2018]. The Tempita Viharaya (temple on pillars) which is considered the oldest construction of this temple is said to have been erected using the stone pillars which were once belonged to a Devalaya (Jayasundara, 2018). The name of this temple is mentioned in the Nampotha, an ancient text written after the 14th century.

According to the date mentioned above the entrance of the Tempita shrine, this structure has been established or renovated on 21 March 1861 (Wijayawardhana, 2010). The Netra Mangalya of the Buddha image is said to have taken place on 22 March 1866 (Chandrasoma, 2013).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan Period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps and wattle walls. The walls form the main enclosed shrine room containing Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted till the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010). 

Yatawatta Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main aspect of this temple with an archaeological significance. It consists of two parts (image chamber and outer ambulatory) and has been built upon 30 granite stumps about 3-4 feet tall (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010). Two flight of steps make the access to the image chamber as well as to the ambulatory which surround the chamber. The ambulatory is about 2 ft. 6 in. wide and a short wall of about 3 feet tall runs along its outer boundary (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010). The total Tempita structure is about 20 feet long and 16 feet wide (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010).

The outer walls of the ambulatory contain no paintings drawn but the image chamber is adorned with paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan style. Two statues of guardians accompanied by a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) are found at the entrance of the image chamber. On the side walls are three figures of deities, Vishnu, Kataragama, and Gane Bandara (Wijayawardhana, 2010). Also, a painting of a Buddhist monk called Udugampola Sonuththara Thera who is believed to be a  head priest of the temple long ago, is found drawn on the wall (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

A wood ceiling covers the upper part of the chamber (Jayasundara, 2018). The main sculpture found in the chamber is a seated Buddha statue of about 4 feet 6 inches tall (Wijayawardhana, 2010). On the two sides of the Buddha statue are statues of deities, Vishnu and Saman (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

The Tempita building was renovated and conserved by the Archaeological Department on 28 February 2013.

A protected monument
The Tempita Vihara within the premises of Pahalagama Vidyaravinda Maha Pirivena situated in Grama Niladhari Division Pahalagama in the Divisional Secretary’s’ Division, Gampaha is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a Gazette notification published on 12 April 2016.

Yatawatte Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama Yatawatte Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama
1) Chandrasoma, S., 2013. Gampaha Distrikkaye Tempita Vihara (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-9159-85-8. pp.18-24.
2) Jayasundara, A.K., 2018. Yatawatta tempita viharaye murthi saha sithuwam sanrakshanaya kere (In Sinhala). Dayada Newsletter. July 2018. 12th edition. Department of Archaeology.p.19.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1963. 12 April 2016. p. 17.
4) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. pp. 12,251-256.

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This page was last updated on 9 June 2023

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