Isinbessagala Viharaya

Isinbessagala Viharaya
Purana Ruwangiri Raja Maha Viharaya, popularly known as Isinbessagala Viharaya (Sinhala: ඉසින්බැස්සගල රුවන්ගිරි විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

According to local people, this temple was built by King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.), after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Arhat Mahinda Thera (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is said that Arhat Mahinda Thera who arrived in the country with other monks have visited this site before going to Mihintale at Anuradhapura. The name "Isinbessagala" can be roughly translated as "the rock on which the sages descended" (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Recent history
Isinbessagala has been inhabited since 1782 and a Buddhist monk named Madagalle Sumangala is said to have pioneered in this re-settlement (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Some of the archaeological ruins found here include the ancient Stupa at the foot of the rock, the Siri Pathul Gala (the Buddha's footprint) and the slab with a cobra figure (Wikramagamage, 2004). Before the construction of Buddha statues, people made various objects of worship to represent the Buddha such as Sri Pathul Gala. Therefore, the Sri Pathul Gala that was found at this site gives an indication of the antiquity of this temple. This artefact is presently placed at the top of the rock near the Stupa.

Isinbessagala rock inscription
A rock inscription belonging to the early Anuradhapura Period has been discovered at the site. It records a grant of income that was derived from a tank to this temple by two persons. According to the inscription, Asiyakara Viharaya was the old name that had been used to identify this temple. This name roughly means "the temple where sages lived".

The Siri Pathul Gala The Stupa at the top of the rock The slab with the cobra figure A pond
1) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, p. 183.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 14 January 2023
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