Bogoda Viharaya and Wooden Bridge

Bogoda Wooden Bridge
Bogoda Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: බෝගොඩ රජමහා විහාරය, බෝගොඩ ලී පාලම) is a Buddhist temple situated in Bogoda village in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. It became well known among visitors due to the ancient Bogoda wooden bridge which is situated by the side of the temple (Lalchandra, 1993).

The history of the Bogoda temple goes back to the pre-Christian era. This is evident from two cave inscriptions written in Early Brahmi Scripts (Lalchandra, 1993; Paranavitana, 1970). The cave temple of Bogoda Viharaya and the bridge have architectural features of the Kandyan Period. A copper-plate inscription by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1781 A.D.) which has been granted on behalf of both Viharas at Bogoda and Passara is presently in the possession of this temple (Lalchandra, 1993).

Two cave inscriptions written in early Brahmi scripts have been found at the site (Paranavitana, 1970).

Period: 3rd-century B.C.-1st century A.D.                Script: Early Brahmi                 Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Parumaka-Tisha-puta-Bamadatasha lene agata-anaga[ta]-catu-disha-shagasha paditite
Translation: The cave of Brahmadatta, son of the chief Tissa, is established for the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.57.

The temple
The ancient bridge, cave temple (Len Viharaya), and Awasa-ge (monks' dwelling) are the main monuments of this temple (Lalchandra, 1993). A peculiar thing is that this temple does not have a Stupa, the most essential religious building of a Buddhist temple (Lalchandra, 1993).

The cave temple
The cave temple has architectural features of the Kandyan era (Priyadarshani, 2017). Three Buddha statues in reclining, seated, and standing positions are found inside the cave (Lalchandra, 1993; Priyadarshani, 2017). Of them, the seated statue is depicted under a Makara Torana (dragon arch) made of wood (Priyadarshani, 2017). The ceiling of the cave has been decorated with floral decorations linked with Stupa and sacred relics (Priyadarshani, 2017). The Sat-sathiya (the first seven weeks after the enlightenment) and episodes from Jataka tales are depicted on the walls (Priyadarshani, 2017). Two statues of Ananda (probably) and God Visnu are also found inside the cave temple (Priyadarshani, 2017).

An outer verandah has been built in front of the cave temple. Two guardians with two lions in the standing position are found by the side of the cave entrance. On top of a granite stone fixed at the entrance is a record depicting the year 1929 (Lalchandra, 1993). This probably denotes the date when the extension of the verandah to the cave temple was done (Lalchandra, 1993). A simple entrance provides access to the outer verandah. At the left end of it is a separate room reserved for three gods namely; Visnu, Saman, and Kataragama (Lalchandra, 1993). Some renovations have been done to the cave temple in 2477 B.E. [(1933 AD.) Lalchandra, 1993]. A tunnel with an unknown end is also found behind the cave temple (Lalchandra, 1993).

The Awasa-ge
The Awasa-ge is said to be 250-350 years old (Lalchandra, 1993). It has an inner courtyard and an outer open verandah (Lalchandra, 1993; Priyadarshani, 2017). The eight circular pillars that support the roof of the outer verandah have features of Dutch architecture (Lalchandra, 1993).

The Bogoda wooden bridge
Bogoda bridge was built across the Gallanda Oya stream about 600 years ago or during the Kandyan Period (Lalchandra, 1993; Priyadarshani, 2017). All the components of the bridge including sub-structures such as decking, roof, roof tiles, balustrades, and nails have been constructed from wood. The bridge is 50 ft. 10.75 in. long, and 3 ft. 6 in. wide and mounted on round wooden columns each 12"-13" in diameter (Lalchandra, 1993). A pier consisting of two wooden columns provides strength to the bridge at the centre of it. The roof of the bridge has been constructed according to Sinhalese architectural practice (Lalchandra, 1993). The carvings found on the rafters can be compared with the wood carvings of Embekke Devalaya and Magul Maduwa (Lalchandra, 1993). There are two hand railings on both sides of the bridge.

A protected site
The ancient Len Viharaya, the Awasa-geya and the ancient wooden bridge situated in the premises of Bogoda Raja Maha Vihara in Bogoda village in the Grama  Niladhari Division No. 76 of Bogoda in Haliela Divisional Sectetary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by two government gazette notifications published on 22 November 2002 and 1 June 2023.

1) Bogoda Bridge by Indi Samarajiva is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1) Lalchandra, M.D., 1993. Bridges in ancient Sri Lanka with special reference to Bogoda. Wood. International Scientific Committee, 10th General Assembly, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1993. pp.41-51.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.57.
3) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.30-33.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Extraordinary. No: 2334/41. 1 June 2023. p.4A.

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This page was last updated on 3 December 2023
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