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.

The recent history of Gallengolla Viharaya is going back to the 19th century. Veligamuwe Buddhadasa Atthadassi Thera who is considered the founder of the Gallengolla temple converted this site to a Buddhist religious place. He pioneered in constructing many buildings including the three-storied image house, the Dhamma Sala (preaching hall), and the Malasun Geya (Rajapakse, 2016). However, the earliest history of this temple can be traced back to the period between 3rd century B.C. to 1st century A.D. as the presence of cave inscriptions written in early-Brahmi scripts (following photographs).

A Brahmi cave inscription A cave tunnel with an unknown end, Gallengolla Viharaya .
This drip-leged cave with an early-Brahmi inscription is located in the backyard of the three-storied image house. A tunnel that is running to an unknown destination (above right photograph) is found in the same cave. Several drip-ledged caves have also been identified within the temple premises and some of them contain the remnants of old 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 surface of the cave, below the drip-ledge, is painted with some figures which are difficult to identify.

Image house
The three-storied image house which bears colonial architectural features of the 19th century was built in 1874 (2418 B.E.) by Veligamuwe Buddhadasa Atthadassi Thera. He is said to be the head of the 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 therefore, in 1867, a higher ordination of this sect was held in the Gallengolla Viharaya, making the temple one of the main centers for the Buddhist monks of Ramanna Nikaya in the Central Province (Abeywardana, 2004).

The first floor of the image house is adorned with a large number of paintings belonging to the Kandyan style. At the entrance of 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 on the first floor. The second floor which is being used as the relic house can be reached through a flight of steps made of wood. The paintings and sculptures found on this floor have been done in 1915 and they show artistic features belonging to the later period of Kandyan style (Rajapakse, 2016).

Chapter house & Stupa
The Pohoya Geya (chapter house) of the Viharaya is located west of 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 parts 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.

Wall paintings in the ground floor, Gallengolla Viharaya Wall paintings of the second floor, Gallengolla Viharaya The stone doorframe is also adorned with various floral diagrams, Gallengolla Viharaya The rock cut flight of steps, Gallengolla Viharaya The Stupa of Gallengolla Raja Maha Viharaya .
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.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 2 December 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map


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