Friday, 6 November 2020

Paramakanda Raja Maha Viharaya

Paramakanda Viharaya
Paramakanda Viharaya (ancient Acchagiritissa-pabbata Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Anamaduwa in Puttalam District, Sri Lanka. The temple complex lies on a rock outcrop popularly called Paramakanda.

Due to the presence of several early-Brahmi inscriptions, the history of the Paramakanda temple can be dated back to pre-Christian times (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). Seven such inscriptions have been copied and published in 1970 by the renowned archaeologist S. Paranavithana (Paranavitana, 1970). Among them, two mention a mariner while three inscriptions contain non-Brahmi symbols (Paranavitana, 1970).

Paramakanda cave inscription of Tissa
Period: 1st century A.D.                  Script: Early Brahmi                  Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Parumaka Abaya puta parumaka Tishaha du(ta)-kana(ya)taha (co)di
Translation: The cistern of the chief Tissa, the darling mariner, the son of the chief Abhaya.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.83.
The famous Thonigala Rock Inscriptions which are located about 2 km distance from this temple mention the ancient name of Paramakanda as Acagiritisa-pavata (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The ancient highroad from Puttalam to Anuradhapura which route was taken by the Arab traveller Ibn-Batuta in the 13th century is probably the same route that runs inland from Puttalam (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). Also, two fragmentary inscriptions belonging to the 4th, and 7th centuries A.D. have been discovered on the temple premises (Dias, 1991). Of them, the first inscription has been incised on a rock by the side of a pool and the second one has been inscribed on a rock near the Bodhi tree (Dias, 1991).

The two standing limestone Buddha statues, the signs of an ancient image house, the large stone Asana, and the paddy-husk plaster remains on the cave surfaces indicate that there was a large monastery at this site in the latter half of the Anuradhapura Period (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). However, the existing monastic edifices date from the late Kandyan Times and during this period, Paramakanda is believed to have been under the administration of Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

Temple complex
The temple complex mainly comprises two parts; the lower terrace and the upper premises. The lower terrace consists of a number of buildings and structures including the Stupa, image house, Bodhi tree, belfry, etc. The outer wall of the image house is apparently built of wattle and plastered with clay. Sculptures and paintings belonging to the Kandyan tradition are found inside the image house. However, a new layer of painting has been added to some parts of the walls in 1929 by covering the old Kandyan-era paintings (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

A small image house, a Stupa, and two carved footprints of Buddha (Sri Pathula) are found at the upper temple premises. The sculptures in the image house had been destroyed recently by thieves who searched for imaginary treasures inside them.
A protected site
The ancient image house with paintings, the Dagoba and two drip-ledged caves, rock inscription, residence of the Buddha Bhikkus and three drip-ledged caves abutting thereof, belonging to the Paramakanda Vihara premises situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Paramakanda in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Anamaduwa are archaeological protected monuments, declared by government gazette notifications published on 1 November 1996, and 8 April 2009. 

Paramakanda Viharaya Paramakanda Viharaya .
1) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilleke, L.; Silva, R., 1990. Sri Lanka Bithu Sithuwam: Paramakanda (Paintings of Sri Lanka: Paramakanda). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka: Centenary publication. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 955-613-021-7. pp.35-37.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. p.72.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.83,100.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p.107

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023


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