Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya

Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya
Kekunadola/ Kekulandola Raja Maha Viharaya, also known as Prathiraja Pirivena (Sinhala: කැකුණදොල ටැම්පිට විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated near Agalawatta town in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

The history of the Kekunadola temple can be compared with the account on Kekulandola Sri Vardhana Pathiraja, a rebel leader who is mentioned in the Sinhalese chronicle, Rajavaliya (Suraweera, 1997).

During the reign of King Parakramabahu VI (c.1412-1467 A.D.), Sapumal Kumaraya, an adopted son of King Parakramabahu VI, attacked Jaffna (Yapa Patuna) and brought it under the control of Kotte Kingdom. After the demise of King Parakramabahu VI, the throne of the Kotte Kingdom was given to Prince Jayabahu [coronation name: Vira Parakramabahu (1467-1468 A.D.)], the son of Ulakudaya Deviya [(the daughter of King Parakramabahu VI) Suraweera, 1997]. By hearing this coronation, Sapumal Kumaraya who was at the time at Yapa Patuna came to Kotte and usurped the throne and became the king of Kotte under the name Bhuvanekabahu VI [(1468-1475 A.D.) Suraweera, 1997]. However, this incident caused to make an insurrection among Sinhalese people in the kingdom

Simhala Peraliya (the Sinhalese insurrection)
The coronation of King Bhuvanekabahu VI was not supported by several Sinhalese territories in the country. A serious insurrection against the authority of Bhuvanekabahu VI occurred among the people of the Pasyodun Koralaya located between the Kalu Ganga river and the Walawe Ganga river under the leadership of Sri Vardhana Pathiraja and Kurugama Thera (Suraweera, 1997). This insurrection was also spread to Satara Koralaya, Udarata, and the southern part of the country (Paranavitana, 1933). The slab-inscription of Bhuvanekabahu VI in Dedigama Raja Maha Viharaya and the Pegu-Kalyani inscription of Burma (Myanmar) reveal some details about this insurrection that occurred in Satara Koralas as well as the southern part of the country (Ko, 1892; Paranavitana, 1933; Suraweera, 1997).

Meanwhile, King Bhuvanekabahu VI dispatched Prince Ambulugala, the ruler of Satara Koralaya, to subdue this insurrection (Paranavitana, 1933). Prince Ambulugala captured both Sri Vardhana Pathiraja and Kurugama Thera and brought them before King Bhuvanekabahu VI (Suraweera, 1997). The captives were then imprisoned by the king (Suraweera, 1997).

However, due to some reason, the king released both Sri Vardhana Pathiraja and Kurugama Himi later and placed his adopted son and hair under their protection (Suraweera, 1997; Paranavitana, 1933).

Kekulandola Viharaya to Prathiraja Pirivena
Some believe that the Kekunadola temple was established during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu VI by Sri Vardhana Pathiraja (Abeyawardana, 2002). However, to commemorate this regional leader, the Kekulandola temple was later started to know by the locals as Prathiraja Pirivena (Fernando, 2003).

The Bodhi tree of the temple is said to be planted in 1876 (Fernando, 2003).

Tempita Viharaya
Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan Period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps and wattle walls. The walls form the main enclosed shrine room containing Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted till the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Kekunadola Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya building in Kekunadola temple is considered the only such kind of structure found in the Kalutara District (Abeyawardana, 2002; Wijayawardhana, 2010).  It is also the main aspect of the temple with an archaeological significance. It has been built upon 9 granite pillars about 3 feet tall. The four-sided roof with an elevated middle portion is paved with flat clay tiles. Several renovations have been done to the building on 6 July 1980.

The inside walls of the image chamber are adorned with paintings belonging to the Kandyan style. The main sculpture is a seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta and Moggallana, the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha. Figures of Kuragama Thera (left side) and minister Sri Vardhana Prathiraja (right side) can be seen on the inner side of the entrance wall.

A protected site
The Tempita Viharaya situated in Prathiraja Piriven Vihara premises in Agalawatta village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Agalawatta is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya Kekunadola Raja Maha Viharaya
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.110.
2) Fernando, M., 2003. Kalutara (In Sinhala). Thejani Publishers. ISBN: 955-8818-00-3. pp.47-49.
3) Ko, T.S., 1892. The Kalyānī Inscriptions erected by King Dhammacetī at Pegu in 1476 AD: Text and translation. Superintendent, government printing, Burma. p.77.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Dadigama slab-inscription of Bhuvanekabahu VI. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon : Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.278-286.
5) Suraweera, A. V., 1997. Rajavaliya: A critical edition with an introduction (In Sinhala). Educational Publications Department. pp.85-86, 90, 219-220.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
7) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. pp. 12, 44.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 6 August 2022

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