Sunday, September 20, 2020

Veheragala Viharaya, Ampara

The flight of steps at the entrance
Veheragala Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Veheragala Sripa Aranya Senasanaya or Purana Deva Raja Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Dighavapi village in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. Located near to the sacred Dighavapi Viharaya, this Veheragala temple can be reached by traveling along Digavapi temple road about 7 km distance from the Varipathanchena junction.

History
According to the two rock inscriptions that have been found from the temple premises, the history of this temple can be dated back to the 1st century A.D. Of these two inscriptions, one reveals the ancient name of this temple as "Deva-raja Viharaya".

Inscriptions (see the note below)
Two inscriptions belonging to the 1st century A.D. are found engraved on the rock near the pond.  They have been indited near to each other and visible as one inscription comprising two lines. Some letters of the two inscriptions are in worn condition and are difficult to read.

Inscription I :Sidam..aka(na) gathahi....(de)varaja viharahi mahanaka dine
Context : According to this inscription, this place is known in ancient time as "Deva-raja Viharaya". The name mentioned as "mahanaka" is thought to be King Mahadatika Mahanaga who reigned from 9 to 21 A.D. Several inscriptions that mention the name "mahanaka" have been found from nearby areas. The Vehera-Uda-Male rock inscription of the Eravur Pattu of Batticaloa District is one of them (Paranavitana, 1983).

Inscription II :Sidam gu..(ra)vavika divarajavi(ha) raha bikasagahatavavi
Context : Some letters of this inscriptions can not be identified due to the worn condition. It is assumed that this inscription records about the bestowal of several tanks to the temple.

Other monuments
Ampara Veheragala
The flight of steps at the entrance
The temple complex, in ancient time, had been constructed on the plateau of the rock. To enter the temple, a rock-cut flight of steps extending from the north to the south has been provided. The length of the flight of steps is about 16 m and it consists of 39 steps. On the summit of the rock plateau is a Stupa constructed in the recent past.

The pond and the flight of steps
The rock plateau extends towards the west as well as to the south from the modern Stupa. On the rock plateau, a stone pond (Gal Kemiya) with a length of 4.2 m and 3.6 m width is found. Near to it is a 7 m long flight of steps that extending from south to east.

Ruined buildings
A few sites with the ruins of ancient buildings and structures is found on the rock plateau extending to the west. Remains of stone bases, urinal stones, and scattered brick pieces are also found.

Veheragala cave site
A site with drip-ledged caves is found extending from the area near Dighavapi Sinhala Vidyalaya up to the Veheragala Viharaya. Two caves with drip-ledges and one early-Brahmi inscription are found here.

A protected site
Veheragala Viharaya
Rock with rock inscriptions, ruins of buildings and flight of steps and the pond with stone rampart wall at the base of the said rock at the place called “Veheragala” belonging to Deegawapi Buddhist colony in Grama Niladari Division No. 1, Deegawapi in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Addalachchenei are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.
 
Veheragala cave site
Drip ledged cave complex with Brahmi inscriptions extended from the area near Sinhala College up to archeological site “Veheragala” belonging to Deegawapi colony village in the Grama Niladari Division No. 1 Deegawapi in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Addalachchenei is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 10 October 2014. 

Ampara Veheragala Ruined building .
Note
This page contains information extracted from a Sinhala book which was in the possession of the chief monk of the Viharaya. Unluckily, the monk didn't has the initial pages of that book and therefore we were unable to find out the original author and the year of that publication.

References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon; Late Brahmi inscriptions 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.42-43.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.920.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 20 September 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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