Maligatenna Raja Maha Viharaya (Gampaha)

Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya
Maligatenna Viharaya, also known as Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya (Sinhala: මාලිගාතැන්න විහාරය/මාලිගාතැන්න ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසනය), is a Buddhist temple/ a forest monastery built on the summit and the foot of Maligatenna mountain [173 m (567.58 ft. amsl)] in Malwathuhiripitiya village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Maligatenna Viharaya
A large number of drip-ledged caves are found on the temple premises. They are believed to be there as the abodes of Buddhist monks since the B.C. era. The other cave temples located in the vicinity of the Maligatenna Viharaya such as Uruwala, Pilikuttuwa, Varana, Miriswatta, and Koskandawala also have archaeological evidence dating back to the pre-Christian era and therefore, it has been assumed that this cluster of cave temples including the Maligatenna have existed as one major cave site during the early part of the Anuradhapura Period.

In one of the caves, a decorated stone door frame has been found. Depending on its morphological features some believe that it is a work that belongs to the 8th century A.D. Besides that, on the surface of the summit of the Maligatenna rock, several rock-carved holes used to install the pillars (probably the pillars of an ancient structure) have been identified. A Bodhi tree surrounded by a rampart is also found on the rock summit.

The present temple and the forest monastery were established on this ancient site in 1924 with the efforts of a Buddhist monk named Menikdivela Sri Devananda Thera.

Maligatenna Viharaya
As mentioned in the legends related to the cave temples of Pilikuttuwa and Asgiriya, the caves of the Maligatenna temple are also said to be used by King Valagamba as a hideout during the reign of the Five Dravidians (five Indian invaders who ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom from 103 to 88 B.C.). It is also believed by the locals that the Tooth Relic of the Buddha which was in the custody of Hiripitiye Diyawadana Nilame was kept here before it was carried to the Delgamuwa Viharaya during the 16th century A.D.

A protected site
The rock caves in the lower courtyard and the pathway wall in the upper courtyard and the flight of steps known as Degaldoruwa of the Maligatenna Aranya Senasana situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 297-Malwathuhiripitiya, in the Mahara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Maligatenna temple Maligatenna Viharaya Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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