Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya (Angunukolapelessa)

Not to be confused with Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya (Kumbukgete)

Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Kasagala Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: කසාගල රජ මහා විහාරය) is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in the village of Angunukolapelessa, Hambantota District, Sri Lanka. The gold-gilded Buddha statue which is in the custody of this temple was taken to London for the Exhibition of Ancient Arts of Sri Lanka in 1981 (Uduwara & Wijesekara, 1990).


Locals believe that the Kasagala temple was established by Kavan Tissa (205–161 B.C.). It was first restored by Dappula of Rohana (c. 659 A.D.) and again by King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) during the 11th century (Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1963; Ray, 1960; Vanarathana, 1994). Several gifts endowed by King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782 A.D.) of Kandy to Vehelle Dhammadinna Thera are preserved in the temple (Vanarathana, 1994).

An insitu inscription dated to the 2nd century A.D. refers to the site as Kasagala (Kacagala) Vihara (Uduwara & Wijesekara, 1990; Vanarathana, 1994). Manorathapurani (The Wish Fulfiller), the Commentary to the Anguttara Nikaya that was compiled in the 5th century A.D. by Buddhaghosa mentions this site by the name Kassaka-lena (Vanarathana, 1994).


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

The Temple

The temple has been erected on a raised quadrangle constructed with large granite boulders (Abeyawardana, 2004; Vanarathana, 1994). The ruins of several buildings including two Stupas are found on the temple premises. Paintings belonging to the style of the Kandyan Period adorn the walls of the image house. The ceiling is especially filled with paintings depicting the style of the maritime provinces of the Kandyan era (Abeyawardana, 2004). The European influence is clearly visible in these paintings.

The Archaeological Museum

A small site museum of the Archaeological Department is situated on the premises of Kasagala Viharaya. The museum is used to exhibit antiquities recovered from the temple. 

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.

European influenced Kasagala temple paintings European influenced Kasagala temple paintings The image house, Kasagala Viharaya Seated Buddha at the entrance of the temple Ruins of a building 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. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. 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) Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief), 1960. History of Ceylon: Vol. I: Part II. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. p.430.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.522.
5) Uduwara, J.; Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief), 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology,1970-1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. p.176.
6) Vanarathana, K., 1994. Matara Puravidyathmaka Ithihasaya (In Sinhala). ISBN: 955-9325-00-0. pp.208-209.

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This page was last updated on 7 June 2023
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