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Ranawana Purana Viharaya

The Stupa of Ranawana Viharaya
Ranawana Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: රණවන පුරාණ රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Pilimathalawa in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The temple can be reached by travelling along the Ranawana temple road that starts from the Kiribathkumbura Highway Museum Junction on the Colombo-Kandy Highway.

The calm ascetic environment and some modern monastic features including the tallest walking Buddha statue in the country have made this temple an attractive place among local and foreign visitors.

Ranawana walking Buddha
The history of the Ranawana temple is obscure. However, a golden Sannasa (a gold sheet) that had been granted by a king to an elite person reveals some information about a Buddhist temple located in the Ranawana area. As mentioned in itself, this Sannasa has been issued in 1602 Saka years (1675 A.D.) to an indigenous doctor named Ranawana Vedarala and to his deceased father Ranawana Mohottala. According to it, Ranavana Mohottala and a monk named Hamithi Thera had continued the construction work of a Buddhist temple in Ranawana. After finishing its work, they bestowed the temple along with some paddy lands to a Buddhist monk named Buluwe Maha Thera. However, that monk had abandoned the usual maintaining work of the temple for about 20 years and was begging in the Hath Korale area. Ranawana Vedarala, the son of Ranawana Mohottala saw this situation and informed about it to Queen Henakanda Biso Bandara who was at the time at Anuradhapura. The queen ordered to appoint a new custodian monk for the temple and continue the normal ritual practices. Instructed by her, Ranawana Vedarala came back to Ranawana and started the temple rituals and other restoration works. One day, the king of the kingdom came to the temple dressed as a villager and saw Vedarala. He ordered one of his ministers to bring Vedarala to the palace. By hearing the total story from Vedarala, the king became happy and gave him more paddy lands and the appellation name 'Sri Rama Mohottalage Gedara' to him and his ancestry.

The name of the Ranawana temple can be found in the book, 'A Gazetteer of the Central Province of Ceylon (excluding Walapane)' written by A.C. Lawrie (Lawrie, 1898). According to it, Ranawana Vihara has been built by the people of the Ranawana Walawwa. It further mentions that Boyagama Unnanse was appointed as the incumbent of the temple by Ranawana Disawa just after the accession in 1815 when he was Basnayaka Nilame of the Natha Devalaya in Kandy (Lawrie, 1898).

Walking Buddha at Ranawana temple The entrance Statues of eighty great disciples, Ranawana Viharaya Statues at Ranawana temple
1) World's highest statue of walking Buddha by AntanO is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

1) Lawrie, A.C., 1898. A Gazetteer of the Central Province of Ceylon (excluding Walapane) (Vol. 2). GJA Skeen, Government Printer, Ceylon. p.771.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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