Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sri Subodharama Raja Maha Viharaya

Bikkhu residence, Karagampitiya temple
Sri Subodharama Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Karagampitiya Viharaya) is a historic Buddhist temple situated in Dehiwala in Colombo District, Sri Lanka (Hettige & Sudasinghe, 2015; Wickramasinghe, 2015). Located about 10 km distance from Colombo, the temple can be reached by traveling along the Colombo - Galle main road and turning to the Subodarama Viharaya road which is located at a distance of 250 m from the Dehiwala Junction.

Karagampitiya Subodharamaya has a history extending from the reign of King Parakramabahu VI of Kotte [(1412-1467 A.D.) Embuldeniya, 2014]. During this reign, a village called Medimala (Nedimale) had been offered to the Natha Devalaya at Pepiliyana (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). At the time, the western part of this village was occupying by the fishing community and hence that part was known as Karagampitiya. In order to banish enemies and to protect the fishermen in the village, the king had erected a Devalaya at the foot of a Na-tree located on a hillock of Karagampitiya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). However, this Devalaya is said to be destroyed by the Portuguese and its stone pillars were brought by them to construct the Saint Anthony's Church at Mount-Lavinia (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

During the period of Dutch, a Dutch church and an Ambalama were built at Karagampitiya. It is said that the first incumbent of Karagampitiya Viharaya, Hikkaduwe Indrajothi Thera was living in that Ambalama (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1881, during the British period, when the Methodist Church of Mount-Lavinia was built, the stone pillars which had been brought to the Dutch church were again returned to the temple at Karagampitiya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

The Stupa, Karagampitiya Viharaya
The Buddha images of the Karagampitiya temple are belonged to 1780 and said to be a work of the same artist of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1796, during the reign of King Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1782–1798 A.D.), the Stupa was added to the temple. Soon after the completion of Vihara, a sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura was planted in the temple premises (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1895, constructions of the preaching hall and Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya (the shrine containing the paintings of the First Seven Weeks of Buddha) were finished. In 1800, during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 A.D.), the Sunandaramaya temple at Ambalangoda was the headquarter of the Buddhist monks' sect of Amarapura Nikaya. It is said that the name of Sunandaramaya was also used at the time to identify this Karagampitiya Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The outer ceilings and exterior wall paintings of the image house were done in 1897. In 1898, the floor of the image house was decorated with some fragments of Dutch porcelain and coins (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The Buddha statues and paintings in the inner chamber were redone in 1932 as well as in 1950 (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

The Mural paintings of the main shrine room of Karagampitiya Viharaya are belonged to the 19th century and are categorized under the Southern School art style (Wijerathna et al., 2011). Of them, the earliest are found in the inner walls of the ambulatory spaces (Thenuwara, 2006). The paintings found in the image house as well as in the preaching hall are considered important as they contain visual evidence to understand the 19th-century textile designs in the country (Karunaratne & Bhagya, 2018; Wickramasinghe, 2015).
A portrait of Queen Victoria, Karagampitiya temple Queen Victoria at Karagampitiya Viharaya

Indicating  the coronation  as  the  queen  of all colonial
countries, a portrait of Queen Victoria has been painted
over  the  inner  entrance  door  of   the  image  house of
Karagampitiya temple. A similar portrait can  be seen at
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya.

Reference : Chutiwongs et al., 1990. p.34.
Mosaic art
Mosaic art created by fragments of porcelain products and coins can be seen in the image house as well as in the Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya (Embuldeniya, 2019). In the image house, the mosaic are at the sanctum and the outer chamber (in front of the two entrances of the sanctum). Among the mosaic, the figures of animals (tusker, horse, lion, leopard, rabbit, etc.), florals (coconut tree, banana tree, lotus flowers, etc.), auspicious objects (flags, Sesath, Chamara, etc.), and other (such as a clock) are found (Embuldeniya, 2019).

Besides the image house, mosaic art could be seen at the inner chamber, verandah, and the entrance pandol of Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya (Embuldeniya, 2019).

A protected site
The ancient image house, Sathsathi Mandiraya, Bana preaching hall, Awasage and relic chamber belonging to Karagampitiya Subodharama Purana Vihara premises in the Karagampitiya Grama Niladhari Division in Dehiwala Divisional Secretariat Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Paintings of Karagampitiya Viharaya Paintings of Karagampitiya Viharaya Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya The floor is decorated with fragments of Dutch porcelain
1) Subodharama Vihara 4 by L Manju is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

1) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilaka, L.; Silva, R., 1990. Sri Lanka Bithu Sithuwam: Karagampitiya (Paintings of Sri Lanka: Karagampitiya). Sri Lanka Archaeological Authority: Centenary publication. Central Cultural Fund. pp.33-40.
2) Embuldeniya, P., 2014. Countries which imported porcelain Products to Sri Lanka during 19th century: with special reference to mosaic art. Book of Abstracts, Annual Research Symposium, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. p.52.
3) Embuldeniya, P., 2019. Mosaics at Karagampitiya Subodharama Vihara, Sri Lanka. EPRA International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research. Vol: 5, Issue: 3. pp.19-27.
4) Hettige, U. and Sudasinghe, A.U., 2015. Dancing costumes on the timber paintings in the Karagampitiya temple sermon hall (Dharma mandapaya). p.13.
5) Karunaratne, P.V.M. and Bhagya, N., 2018. A study of an iconic representations of textile designs in temple paintings of Sri Lanka. World Scientific News, 103, pp.19-31.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.123.
7) Thenuwara, C., 2006. The Murals of the Karagampitiya Subodharama Temple: An Investigation of the Pictorial Language of these murals of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation). p.IV.
8) Wickramasinghe, A.T.P., 2015. An Analysis of 19th century female clothing in Sri Lanka: depicted from Kathaluwa and Karagampitiya temple paintings.
9) Wijerathna, D.S., Ariadurai, S.A. and De Silva, N., 2011. Study on pictorial expression of the mural paintings at Subodharamaya temple murals of Karagampitiya, Dehiwala. pp.145-148.
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This page was last updated on 10 April 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map


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