This site is under maintenance Contact Us !

Ridi Viharaya

Ridi Viharaya
Ridi Viharaya (Sinhala: රිදී විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Ridigama in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

Ridi Viharaya
The history of Ridi Viharaya goes back to the early period of the Anuradhapura Era (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.). Early Brahmi Inscriptions that have been discovered in the drip-ledged caves located on the premises of Ridi Vihara temple give evidence that the caves were used as the habitats of the forest-dwelling Buddhist monks since the 2nd century B.C. (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970). 
The ancient name of this place was Ambatthakola-lena (Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883). During the reign of King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.), silver ore is said to have been found in the Ambatthakola-lena cave (Nicholas, 1963). In the Pali works such as Mahavamsa, this temple is called Rajata-lena (Sin: Ridi-lena; Eng: Silver-cave) and King Amandagamani Abhaya (22-31 A.D.) is said to have constructed the Rajata-lena Viharaya [(present Ridi Viharaya) Charles, 1990; Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883; Nicholas, 1963]. However, the widely accepted tradition is that this temple was founded by King Dutugemunu (Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883). Several chronicles such as Culavamsa and Ridi Vihara Asna record that King Dutugeunu built the Viharaya after the removal of the silver ore that was discovered from the site (JCBRAS, 1923; Modder, 1896). King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) and King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) are said to have visited this temple during the Polonnaruwa Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Ridi Viharaya
The temple which was in a state of ruins for a long period of time was repaired and renovated under the patronage of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Charles, 1990; Modder, 1896]. The king, according to Culavamsa (this is also identified as a part of Mahavamsa), gave over the charge of the temple to a novice monk named Siddhattha, who accordingly carried out more repairs, improvements, and additions to the temple (Coomaraswamy, 1908; Holt, 1996; Modder, 1896). The Buddhist monk Tibbatuwawe Buddharakshita who was assigned by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha to update the chronicle Culavamsa from its 13th-century state was originally from Ridi Viharaya and therefore, the description of these restoration efforts by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha has been given in Culavamsa in a very detailed manner (Holt, 1996).

Origin of the name & Ridi Vihara legend
Several old texts such as "Ridivihara Satara Mayim Asum" (The narrative of the four boundaries of Ridi Vihara) and "Ridi Vihara Asna" describe how the present name "Ridi Viharaya" originated and they further provide details on the construction of Ridi Viharaya and offering of lands for the endowment of the temple and boundary details of those lands (JCBRAS, 1923). According to the legend, silver ore was discovered in a cave in the township of Emtota (Pali: Ambatthakola) near Deduru Oya by an enterprising trader, at the time King Dutugemunu was about to build Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura (JCBRAS, 1923). After being informed by the trader, the king removed the silver ore and constructed a Vihara at the site (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; JCBRAS, 1923). The name Ridi Viharaya (the Silver Temple) is thought to have originated thereafter (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

A large number of cave and rock inscriptions dating from the 2nd century to the 7th century A.D. have been discovered at the site (Dias, 1991; Paranavitana, 1970).

Ridi Vihara cave inscriptions
Ridi Vihara cave inscriptions
Period: 2nd-1st centuries B.C.
Script: Early Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: Parumaka-Puna-puta Parumaka tishaha lene shagasha
Translation: The cave of chief Tissa, son of the chief Punna [is given] to Sangha (to the Buddhist monks)
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970.

Ridi Vihara rock inscription of Amanda Gamini Abhaya
Reign: Amanda Gamini Abhaya (22-31 A.D.)
Period: 1st century A.D.                    Script: Later Brahmi                    Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: (1) Devanapiya Tisa Rajaha marumanake Tisa Maha Rajaha marumanake Naka Maha Rajaha puta Gaini Abaya dine Kulagama saha Padagamake (2) sovana kutareke
Translation: The villages Padagaa and Kulagama were donated by Gaini Abhaya, son of the great king Naga, grandson of king Tissa, grandson (also) of the great king Tissa, the friend of the gods by performing the symbolic act of pouring water from the golden vase.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

Ridi Vihara rock inscription
Ridi Vihara rock inscription 
Period: 2nd-3rd centuries A.D.
Script: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: vahamala kariyahi (na)va (karihaka kubara...)
Translation: Paddy field of nine karisa (thinly six amunas) at Vahamala Kariya.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

Ridi Vihara rock inscription 
Period: 5-7th centuries A.D.                    Script: Transitional Brahmi                    Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: (1) Patagalayaha Samanalaha cidavi vi (2) harala savasanata-pati
Translation: Samanala of Patagala was freed from vaharala and the merit thereof has been conferred on all beings.
References: Dias, 1991; The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

The temple complex
The temple complex consists of a number of ancient monuments. They include Vahalkada, tomb, old preaching hall, old Awasa-ge, Waraka-velandu Viharaya, old Bodhi tree, Hewisi Mandapaya, Maha Viharaya, Uda Viharaya, Stupa, Serasumgala Stupa, caves, etc.

Maha Viharaya
Maha Viharaya
Maha Viharaya (also known as Pahala Viharaya: the lower shrine) is situated under the shade of a huge rock cave and is the main shrine of the temple (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The Ridi Vihara legend says that it was here on this spot that the silver ore for the Ruwanweliseya was found.

Many paintings and sculptures belonging to an older period than the Kandyan Period are found here (Charles, 1990). The sculptures are made out of brick and mortar, sometimes over a wooden core. In the shrine, a number of Buddha statues in various postures are found. They include the gold-plated standing Buddha of Abhaya-mudra, two seated Buddha statues, one reclining statue, the standing Buddha of Varada-mudra, etc (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). Other statues such as the statue of King Dutugemunu, Bodhisattva Maitree, and Ananda Thera are also found inside the shrine (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). The floor on which the reclining Buddha statue is placed is decorated with Dutch-era porcelain floor tiles depicting some scenes from the life of Jesus Christ (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The majority of paintings in the old Viharaya have been renovated by Devaragampola Silvattena (an unordained monk) with the assistance of Tilavala Gallada (Charles, 1990).

To the right of the Maha Viharaya is a small Buddha shrine and on the frame of the door leading into which has an elaborately carved ivory panel popularly known as the carving of Panca-nāri-ghaṭa (the pot of five women). This carving is considered an excellent example that depicts the Sinhalese artists' skill in the art of ivory carving. Large fragments of plasters with paintings are also found on the cave roof (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Uda Viharaya
Uda Viharaya
The upper part of the main cave was converted into an image house during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha and is presently known as the Uda Viharaya [(the upper shrine) Coomaraswamy, 1908; Modder, 1896]. There is a flight of stone steps leading to this shrine from the rear part of Maha Viharaya.

A finely preserved collection of murals and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan tradition is found in this shrine. A seated statue of the Buddha under a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) is the main statue of the shrine. The statue is in the Veerasana posture and its hands depict the Dyana-mudra (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). Two standing Buddha statues depicting Abhaya-mudra and two statues of the god Vishnu and god Saman are also found inside the shrine (Piyadassi Thera, 2017).

The Suvisi-Buddhas (previous 24 Buddhas with Bodhi trees), the Suvisi-vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas), the Sat-satiya (the first seven weeks after the enlightenment), and the Solosmasthana (sixteen most sacred places in the island) are identified as the main paintings drawn on the walls of the Uda Viharaya (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The Narilatha, Nava-nari-kunjaraya (nine entwined maiden figures in the shape of an elephant), Three-Simha (three seated lion figures with one head), Sarabhamurthiya, and Vrsabha-kunjaraya (heads of a bull and an elephant entwined) are also among the other notable paintings found here (Charles, 1990; Piyadassi Thera, 2017).

Waraka-velandu Viharaya
This is referred to as a shrine similar to a Hindu temple in appearance (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The building consists of a stone Mandapa in front of a cella situated beneath an overhanging rock. In Sinhala "Waraka-velandu Viharaya" means "the shrine in which jack-fruit partook" (Modder, 1896). According to Ridi Vihara legend, this was the spot where the Arhat named Indra Gupta partook the jackfruit offered by the trader (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Modder, 1896).

Serasumgala ruins
The rock to the right of the temple entrance is known as Serasumgala and is believed to be the place where the initial Stupa of the Ridi Viharaya temple had been built (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). A number of ancient monuments and ruins such as the Serasumgala Stupa, rock inscriptions, rock caves, rock-cut flight of steps, and other artefacts are found here.

A protected site
The rock with the inscription dating from B.C. to the early period of A.D. and the ancient cave temple belonging to the 1100-1800 A.D. period in Ridi Vihara in Rideegama Village in Divisional Secretary’s Division of Ridigama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 11 August 1967.

Ridi Viharaya Serasumgala .
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. pp.52-54.
2) Charles, S.P., 1990. Section III: Painting (1200 A.D.-1400 A.D.). Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series (Vol. V). Painting. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.90-91.
3) Coomaraswamy, A.K., 1908. Mediaeval Sinhalese Art. pp.165,172-173.
4) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.79-80.
5) Holt, J.C., 1996. The religious world of Kīrti Śrī: Buddhism, art, and politics in late Medieval Sri Lanka. Oxford University Press on Demand. pp.109,112-114.
6) JCBRAS, 1923. Palm leaf manuscripts on Ridi Vihara. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 29, No. 76. pp.133-144.
7) 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.106.
8) Modder, F.H., 1896. Ancient cities and temples in the Kurunegala District: Ridi Vihare. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland Vol. XIV. No. 47. pp.118-124.
9) Muller, E., 1883. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. London. p.39.
10) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.69.
11) Piyadassi Thera, H., 2017. Ridi Vihare kathava (In Sinhala). Published by the Aithihasika Ridi Viharaya-Ridigama. ISBN: 978-955-50458-6-5. pp.17-24.
12) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14761. 11 August 1967.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

1 comment

  1. I have known this place since my childhood since I live near by. But I came to know about several facts from this article for the first time. Very descriptive. Great work!! keep it up :) :)
Cookie Consent
We serve cookies on this site to analyze traffic, remember your preferences, and optimize your experience.
It seems there is something wrong with your internet connection. Please connect to the internet and start browsing again.
AdBlock Detected!
We have detected that you are using adblocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website, we request you to whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.
Site is Blocked
Sorry! This site is not available in your country.