Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya | Temple of Unfinished Buddha

Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya
Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: දෝව රජ මහා විහාරය) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Dowa in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by travelling along the Bandarawela - Badulla road about 6 km distance from Bandarawela town.

According to local beliefs, the huge and partially carved Buddha statue at Dowa temple is a work belonging to the reign of King Valagamba [(103 B.C. and c. 89–77 B.C.) de Jayawardena, 2015].

Buddha statue
The rock cut Buddha statue, Dowa temple
An incomplete Buddha statue about 11 m (36 ft.) in height is found carved on the surface of a large rock boulder located south of the image house (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). It is believed that this statue was erected during the reign of King Valagamba in the 1st century B.C. Depending on these local beliefs, some authors such as de. Jayawardena, point out that this statue could be the oldest statue in Sri Lanka (de Jayawardena, 2015).

Image house
The image house of the temple can be identified as the main monument of archaeological interest. It mainly consists of three chambers and is filled with paintings belonging to the Kandyan Period

On the sides of the main entrance to the image house, figures of two demons, Kuvera and Vatuka are found (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The walls of the outer chamber are filled with paintings depicting the Jataka stories of Buddha such as Vessantara, Telapatta, Dammapala, etc. (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The canopy of the image house is decorated with various floral and other diagrams. Among them, the painting called Ath-Gon Satana (battle between a tusker and a bull) is considered special. In the inner chamber, two reclining Buddha images, one standing and one seated Buddha statue are found.

A small Stupa of about 10 ft. in height is found at the rear part of the image house. A tunnel mouth that has been closed today is also found aside from the Stupa. The cave is about 15 ft. in height and about 5 ft. in width (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). It is believed that this tunnel may have been used in ancient times by the royal people for their safe journeys (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).

A protected site
The image house with ancient paintings at Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya located in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Ella is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.

The Stupa Reclining Buddha statue Kandyan era paintings An inscription ? .
1) de Jayawardena, U.S., 2015. A Study on the present states of different rocks of ancient monuments in Sri Lanka. G. Lollino et al. (eds.), Engineering Geology for Society and Territory–Volume 8. Springer International Publishing Switzerland. pp. 43-46.
2) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.16-18.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.

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This page was last updated on 5 March 2023
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