Monday, November 26, 2018

Gallengolla Pothgul Raja Maha Viharaya

The three storey image house of Gallengolla Pothgul Raja Maha Viharaya, Kandy
Gallengolla Pothgul Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Urulewatta in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Manikkawa - Paranapattiya road about 4.5 km distance from Pilimathalawa town.

History
The recent history of Gallengolla Viharaya is dated back to the 19th century. Veligamuwe Buddhadasa Atthadassi Thera who is considered as the founder of Gallengolla temple converted this site as a Buddhist religious place. He pioneered in building a three storey image house as well as other buildings such as Dhamma Sala (preaching hall) and Malasun Geya (Rajapakse, 2016). However, the oldest history of this temple can be dated to the period between 3rd century B.C. to 1st century A.D. as the presence of cave inscriptions written with Brahmi scripts (following photographs).
A Brahmi cave inscription [denoting Barata (an honorific epithet before personal name)] at Gallengolla Raja Maha Viharaya A cave tunnel with an unknown end can be seen in the same cave
This drip-leged cave with Brahmi inscription is located at the backyard of north-eastern wall of the three storied image house. A cave tunnel which is running to an unknown destination (above right photograph) is found in the same cave. Several other caves with drip ledges have also been identified within the temple premises and some of them contain faded remnants of paintings.

A painted rock cave at Gallengolla Viharaya, Kandy
This cave (left photograph) is at a higher ground located south-eastern direction from the image house. The inner wall surface of the cave, below the drip-ledges, is painted with some figures which are difficult to identify.

Image house
The three storied image house which bears the 19th century colonial architectural features was built in 1874 (2418 in Buddhist era) by Veligamuwe Buddhadasa Atthadassi Thera. He is said to be the head of forest living monks in the North-Central, North-West and Central Provinces of the country (Abeywardana, 2004). He also provided leadership for the Ramanna Nikaya and hence in 1867, a higher ordination of this sect was held in the Gallengolla Viharaya, making the temple as the main center for Buddhist monks of Ramanna Nikaya in the Central Province (Abeywardana, 2004).
The wall paintings in the ground floor, Gallengolla Viharaya Wall paintings of the second floor, Gallengolla Viharaya
The first floor of the image house is adorned with a large number of paintings belonging to the Kandyan style. At the entrance to the hall is a stone door frame decorated with various floral diagrams. A large wooden cabinet (Pettagama) which was used to store Ola manuscripts has also been placed in the first floor. The second floor which is used as the relic house today can be reached through a flight of steps made of wood. The paintings and sculptures found in this floor have been completed in 1915 and shows features belonging to the latter period of Kandyan style (Rajapakse, 2016).

The stone doorframe is also adorned with various floral diagrams, Gallengolla Viharaya
Chapter house & Stupa
The Pohoya Geya (chapter house) of the Viharaya is located west from the image house and is considered as one of the oldest constructions in the Central Province (Abeywardana, 2004). The temple Stupa is also an important piece of work as its Pesa Walalu and other aspects have been constructed using the stone slabs (Rajapakse, 2016).

A protected site
Drip-ledged caves, three storied image house, Chaitya (the Stupa), Dhamma Sala (the preaching hall) and ancient flight of steps in the Gallengolla Potgul Vihara premises situated in the Urulewatta Grama Niladhari Division in the Udunuwara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 27 July 2009.
The Stupa of Gallengolla Raja Maha Viharaya The rock cut flight of steps, Gallengolla Viharaya
References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  pp.82-83.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.62-63.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1612. 27 July 2009. p.1022.

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