Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya

The cave temple of Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya, KandyHindagala Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple in the village of Hindagala in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling about 4 km along the Galaha road from Peradeniya town.

A rock inscription at Hindagala Viharaya
The history of Hindagala Viharaya is dated back to the Anuradhapura period (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.). Although no historical references are available (Wijesekara, 1945), two rock inscriptions belonging to the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. and a fragment of rock painting belonging to the same period indicate the early establishment of the temple (Abeywardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Among the two inscriptions, one gives details about a custodian of a Visumhala (a lodge) called Pataseela Abala and about a Bodhighara (a Bodhi-tree shrine).

Cave temple
The cave temple of Hindagala is situated at the base of a large rock and can be entered through a doorway decorated with a Makara Thorana [(Dragon arch) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009]. Above the door frame is a mural representing the lord of Totisabhavana heaven, being fanned by two heavenly females. Inside the cave, a recumbent and a seated Buddha images are visible. The seated Buddha image is believed to be built by Queen Henakanda Biso Bandara during the Gampola period [(1341–1408) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009].

The cave of the temple was restored during the time of Governor Barnes [(1824-1831 A.D.) Wijesekara, 1945]

An old painting fragment
The old painting fragment, Hindagala Viharaya
On the surface of the hood of the rock cave, just below the drip ledge, is an old mural depicting two episodes of the life story of Buddha (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). One mural shows about the offering of alms to Buddha, by two trading brothers named Tapassu and Balluka (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The other mural depicts the worshiping of Buddha by god Indra and others during the Buddha's visit to Indasala cave (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). However, the painting was burnt by a forest fire in the 1960s (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

These two paintings show artistic similarities to those of the paintings found in Sigiriya (Rajapakse, 2016; Wijesekara, 1945) and are believed to be belonged to the 7th century A.D. or probably to a later period (Coomaraswamy, 1927). It has been drawn in the Toluwila style (Wikramagamage & Wijesekara, 1990). The present name of the temple, Hindagala, according to Senarath Paranavithana, has been derived from Indrasala Guha which is depicted in the painting. Paintings Hindagala ViharayaHowever due to the environmental weathering, presently, about one-tenth of the original painted surface is remaining (Wijesekara, 1945). This fragment of painting, "Visit of Buddha to Indasala Guha", was copied in 1918 by W. M. Fernando for the Department of National Museums (Abeywardana, 2004; Rambukwella, 2014; Wijesekara, 1945). Another set of figures of Divinities belonging to the 12 century A.D. was copied by Stanley Abeysinghe in 1948 (Rambukwella, 2014).

Four periods
It is evident that the paintings at Hindagala temple belong to four major periods. The fragment of a mural found just below the drip ledge belongs to the Anuradhapura era and the paintings inside the cave belong to the both Gampola and Kandyan periods (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The outer wall paintings facing the veranda are said to be done in 1917.

Tooth Relic
On 23 April 1815, when the Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Kandy from the Pusulpitiya Viharaya in Kotmale, it had been kept in this Hindagala Viharaya for one night.

A protected site
The drip-ledged cave temple, two drip-ledged caves and rock inscriptions belonging to the Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya cave temple in the No. 267, Hindagala Grama Niladhari Division in the Gangawata Korale Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 24 July 2009.  

The Makara Thorana (Dragon arch), Hindagala temple The lord of Totisabhavana heaven is being fanned by two heavenly females, Hindagala temple A stone lamp, Hindagala temple Outer wall paintings, Hindagala temple
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  pp.38-39.
2) Coomaraswamy, A.K., 1927. History of Indian and Indonesian art. London. p.163.
3) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.72.
4) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. pp.43, 45.
5) Rambukwella, M.W.C.N.K., 2014. Heritage representation in culturally diverse societies: a case study of the Colombo National Museum in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, School of Museum Studies). pp.362-363.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1612. 24 July 2009. p.1022.
7) Wijesekara, N., 1945. Early Sinhalese Paintings. A thesis submitted for the Ph. D. of the Culcutta University. pp.13-14, 114, 189.
8) Wikramagamage, C.; Wijesekara., N. (editor in chief), 1990. 500-1000 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Volume Four: Sculpture. p.61.

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This page was last updated on 6 June 2020
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