Sunday, November 25, 2018

Uda Aludeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

The Stupa at Uda-Aludeniya Viharaya, Gampola
Uda Aludeniya Raja Maha Viharaya is an old Buddhist temple located in the village of Uda Aludeniya in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling about 750 m distance along Uda Aludeniya - Thalawathura road from the Weligalla Junction. 

The history of Uda Aludeniya Viharaya is traced back to the 14th century. It is believed that this temple was constructed or restored by Mayim Bandara during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV [(1341-1351 A.D.) Codrington, 1933; Mudiyanse, 1960; Seneviratna & Polk, 1992]. Presently, the temple has been completely renovated and only a few original structures can be identified in the temple premises including a wooden door frame, an inscription, and a moonstone (Sandakada Pahana). The wooden door frame is found in the temple image house and called Ranbewa (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). This antiquarian door frame is richly carved with floral and vegetable designs with the figures of dancers, musicians, and guardians (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). The door frame carries a great significance as it is considered as one of the examples of the earliest wooden carvings found in the country (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992).

The rock inscription at Uda-Aludeniya Viharaya, Gampola
Beside the door frame, a small Stupa and an inscription belonging to the 18th century can be seen near to the temple image house. The inscription is believed to be written in 1742 [reign of King Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe (1739–1747)] by a Buddhist monk named Chandrajothi Thera (Rajapakse, 2016).

Excavations & findings
From the excavations done in 2004, a relic casket adorned with a large number of miniature seated Buddha statues (about 125 images) was discovered within the chamber of a ruinous brick Stupa at Uda Aludeniya temple. These Buddha statues were placed around a silver Stupa covering a gold dome-shaped relic container which is said to be contained seven tiny bone fragments wrapped in gold foils (Stadtner, 2015). Another small reliquary with seated bronze Buddha statues was also found (Stadtner, 2015). After conservation of the Stupa, the discovered artifacts were gifted to the National Museum of Colombo by the chief incumbent of the temple, Ven. Gangoda Chandaloka Thera.
Buddha images (Samadhi) - 14th century, Uda Aludeniya Viharaya Reliquary (Uda Aludeniya, Veligalla) - 14th century
Reliquary - Uda Aludeniya (14th Century), Sri Lanka
Reliquary - Uda Aludeniya (14th Century)
This bronze reliquary (left photograph) was discovered from the relic chamber of the Stupa at Uda-Aludeniya Viharaya (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The large casket contained two concentric tiers of seated Buddha images of miniature sizes. Middle of the casket was a small silver reliquary containing corporeal relics. Several other circles of Buddha images were also found placed around the large enveloping reliquary (above left photograph). These Buddha images are in Samadhi and Bhusparsha-mudra and are seated in Padmasana. It is believed that these images have been imported from South India.

A protected site
The ancient wooden door frame, inscription, and Sandakada Pahana situated in the premises of Uda Aludeniya Raja Maha Viharaya in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Udunuwara are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 1967.

1) Codrington, H.W., 1933. The Gampola Period of Ceylon History. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, (86), pp.260-309.
2) Mudiyanse, N., 1960. The art and architecture of the Gampola Period (1341-1415). M. D. Gunasena. p.19.
3) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. pp.1-2.
4) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. p.72.
5) Seneviratna, A. and Polk, B., 1992. Buddhist monastic architecture in Sri Lanka: the woodland shrines. Abhinav Publications. pp.125-126.
6) Stadtner, D.M., 2015. Rajadhiraj’s Rangoon Relics and a Mon Funerary Stupa. Journal of the Siam Society, 103.
7) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14737. 23 February 1967.

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