Paramakanda Raja Maha Viharaya

Famous Thonigala Rock Inscriptions reveal the ancient name of Paramakanda Viharaya as Acagiritisa-pavata. Click the link to know more!
Paramakanda Viharaya
Paramakanda Viharaya, ancient Acchagiritissa-pabbata Viharaya (Sinhala: පරමාකන්ද විහාරය) 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 (8th century), the signs of an ancient image house, the large stone Asana, and the paddy-husk plaster remains (8th or 9th century) 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). The old residential unit of the monks with a central courtyard is said to have been constructed more than 250 years ago (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, cave temple (Len Viharaya or the image house), Bodhi tree, belfry, etc. The northern face of the Paramanaknda rock has been used to create the cave temple and drip ledges have been cut on the mouth of the cave to prevent rainwater from dripping inside. Sculptures and paintings belonging to the Kandyan tradition are found inside the cave. To the east of the cave temple is the Stupa together with the belfry and a modern image house. To further east of the terrace is another shrine containing two limestone-carved statues belonging to the 8th century A.D. (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The Bodhi tree shrine is located in front of it. 

A small image house, a Stupa, and two carved footprints of Buddha (Sri Pathula) are found at the upper temple premises. The image house shelters a recumbent Buddha image and other figures. These sculptures had been destroyed recently by thieves who searched for imaginary treasures inside them.

Cave temple
The cave temple mainly consists of two parts; the main shrine and the subsidiary shrine. The doorway of the facade of the main shrine is decorated with a Makara Thorana (dragon arch) bearing an inscription of 2472 B.E. (1920 A.D.) and its remaining space is filled with modern-style paintings depicting Dhammasonda Jataka and a Brahmi inscription enclosed in a frame (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). A recumbent Buddha image facing north is found on the inner south wall of the main shrine and the murals in it are said to have been done nearly 250 years ago (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). A sculpted image of sedent Buddha, a wooden structure containing a Visnu image and some modern murals showing Buddhist themes such as Sath Sathiya (the first seven weeks after the enlightenment) are also found in the shrine room. The older murals have been overpainted and another shrine has been added to the west of it (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The outer verandah of the main shrine has been added by the Department of Archaeology to protect the painted wall lined with lions (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

The subsidiary shrine also faces north and its entrance is flanked by two guardians holding vases of flowers. The outer west wall of it contains twelve painted panels depicting punishments in hell. The inner walls are filled with murals showing the Proclamation scenes and Jataka stories including Sivi and Sasa (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). A sculpted Buddha image in the sedent pose and three standing figures of Buddha are found supported on the south and north walls (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

There is a portrayal of Buddha scenes on the face of the overhanging rock above the cave shrine and it belongs to the ancient tradition which has prevailed through the centuries (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The plasterwork on which this scene has been painted appears to date from about the 8th or 9th century, the period that is close in time to the rock painting at Hindagala Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The artistic features of the old murals in the main shrine can be compared with those at Hanguranketha Viharaya and Vijayasundararamaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

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

Location Map
This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

Post a Comment

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.