Thursday, April 18, 2019

Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya, Angunukolapelessa

Ruins at Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in the village of Angunukolapelessa, Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

Locals believe that, Kasagala temple was established by Kavan Tissa (205–161 B.C.). It was first restored by Dappula of Rohana (circa 659 C.E.) and again by King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 C.E.) during the 11 century (Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1963).

Six rock inscriptions belonging to the 4-5 centuries A.D. have been found inscribed on the surface of the rock boulder where the temple Stupa is located. They all are in early Sinhala language and written with late Brahmi scripts. However, clear and complete interpretation of these inscription has become impossible as most of them are now in worn condition. Remaining parts indicate that they are "Vaharala sellipi":  inscriptions which record about the grant of liberty from slavery.

The temple has been erected on a raised quadrangle constructed with large granite boulders (Abeyawardana, 2004).  Ruins of many buildings including two Stupas are found in the temple premises.

The paintings belonging to the style of Kandyan period adorn the walls of the Kasagala image house. The ceiling is specially repleted with paintings depicting the style of the maritime provinces of the Kandyan era (Abeyawardana, 2004). European influence is clearly visible on the paintings.
European influenced Kasagala temple paintings European influenced Kasagala temple paintings
A protected site
The ancient Bhikku residence, Dhamma discourse hall, the Buddha shrine, Dagoba, two inscriptions and the pathway wall around the shrine of the Kasagala Raja Maha Vihara, situated within the Grama Niladhari Division of Udayala in the Divisional Secretary Division of Angunukolapelassa are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.
The image house, Kasagala Viharaya Ruins of a building
Seated Buddha at the entrance of the temple An inscription
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.118.
2) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch), p.68.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.522.

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