Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya

Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya
Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: අත්තනගල්ල විහාරය) is a historic Buddhist temple situated in Attanagalla village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Details about the history of Attanagalla Viharaya are found in the Hatthavanagalla-vihara-vamsa, a Pali work written during the time of King Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 A.D.) of Dambadeniya (Ray, 1959; Wikramasinghe, 1900). It contains a mythical account of King Sirisamghabodhi (252-254 A.D.) who is said to have lived in Hatthavanagalla (present Attanagalla) in retirement after the usurpation of his kingdom by King Gotabhaya [(254-267 A.D.) Wikramasinghe, 1900]. As mentioned in the text, but without historical foundation, King Sirisamghabodhi gave up his life here by offering his own head to a peasant so that the latter might get from Gotabhaya the price set for securing Sirisamghabodhi's head (Liyanagamage, 1963; Nicholas, 1963). It is traditionally believed that the cremation of Sirisamghabodhi was taken place at this site (Liyanagamage, 1963). 

However, on the authority of the Maha-vamsa-tika (11th century A.D.), it has been pointed out that this event (Sirisamghabodhi's supreme act of self-sacrifice) took place in the south of Issarasamana Viharaya (modern Vessagiriya) in Anuradhapura and not in the present Attanagalla Viharaya (Liyanagamage, 1963; Nicholas, 1961). Some believe that this incident may actually happened at Haththikuchchi Viharaya in Kurunegala District (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

According to chronicles, King Gotabhaya built a Vatadage on the spot where Sirisamghabodhi was cremated and King Upatissa II (517-518 A.D.) erected a 5-storeyed Prasada at the site (Nicholas, 1963). King Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 A.D.) repaired the Vatadage and also built an octagonal image house and a Cetiya over the spot where his father, King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 A.D.) had been cremated in the temple premises (Nicholas, 1963).

The Attanagalla temple was destroyed by the Portuguese who arrived in Sri Lanka in the early part of the 16th century (Sarma, 2007).

The temple
Attanagalla Vatadage
The temple consists of an image house, a Stupa, a Bodhi tree, a pond, and a Vatadage.

Attanagalla Vatadage
The Vatadage at Attanagalla Viharaya is believed to have been built on the cremation ground of King Sirisamghabodhi (Nicholas, 1961). It has been built by enclosing a Stupa inside it. The roof of it consists of two decks and is supported by stone pillars in two concentric circles. The inner side of the outer walls is adorned with murals of Buddhist themes.

A protected site
The ancient image house on the premises of the Attanagalla Vihara in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Attanagalla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.

Attanagalla Viharaya Attanagalla Viharaya Attanagalla Viharaya
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. p.75.
2) Liyanagamage, A., 1963. The Decline of Polonnaruva and the Rise of Dambadeniya, (Circa 1180-1270 AD). Doctoral dissertation, SOAS University of London. pp.48-49.
3) Nicholas, C. W., 1961. Additions and amendments to the Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VII. Part 2). Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.227.
4) 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.120.
5) Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief), 1959. History of Ceylon: Vol. I: Part I. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. p.61.
6) Sarma, B.S., 2007. History of Munneswaram Temple. Sri Sankar Publications. p.21.
7) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
8) Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. p.70.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 5 July 2022

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