Lenagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Lenagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Lenagala Raja Maha Viharaya (Photo credit: Kosala Perera, Google Street View)

Lenagala Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: ලෙනගල රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

As the presence of an Early Brahmi Cave Inscription, the history of Lenagala can be dated back to the pre-Christian era. Locals also link the history of this temple to King Valagamba [(103 B.C. and c. 89–77 B.C.) Abeyawardana, 2002]. It is evident from the murals and sculptures in the cave temple that this Viharaya was renovated during the Kandyan Period.

A long early-Brahmi inscription has been found engraved below the drip-ledge of the cave temple. According to the view of Bell, the text of this inscription is virtually the same as that on the caves at Yatahalena, recording a grant by the same donor "Duhatara" (Bell, 1904).

Lenagala cave inscription
Period: 2nd century B.C.                   Script: Early Brahmi                   Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (1) Aya-Duhatara-puta-aya-Shiva-puta aya-Duhatarasha lene Manapadashane nama agata-anagata-catu-disha-shagasha dine
(2) Anudigamashi eke patake Batasha nagarashi eke patake
Translation: (1) The cave named Manapadassana of prince Duhatara, son of prince Siva, son of prince Duhatara, is given to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent. (2) [Granted to the cave are]:-One lot in Anudigama, one lot in Batasa-nagara.
References: Paranavitana, 1970; The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the State Ministry of Cultural Affairs

The cave temple
The "Kegalle Report (1904)" by Bell gives a detailed description of the cave temple of Lenagala Viharaya (Bell, 1904). According to him, the cave has been divided into three temples. The first temple, which is the largest, is 31 ft. 6 in. long and 17 ft. 9 in. wide and a decorated stone door-frame (11 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft.) provides access to it (Bell, 1904). A reclining Buddha statue (29 ft. in length, 6 ft. in height to left shoulder), a statue of Bodhisattva Maitree, and the images of deities such as Visnu, Saman, Devata Bandara are found inside the temple (Abeyawardana, 2002; Bell, 1904). The second temple is 15 ft. 10 in. long and 12 ft. wide (Bell, 1904). It can be accessed through a door-frame (6 ft. 8 in. by 4 ft. 3 in. by 7 ft.) decorated with floral carvings (Bell, 1904). Inside the cave is a seated Buddha statue of about 3 ft. 3 in. tall (Bell, 1904). The third cave is the smallest among the others. It is 7 ft. 7 in. long and 10 ft. wide and a decorated door-frame (6 ft. 4 in. by 4 ft. 2 in.) provides the access to it (Bell, 1904). A seated Buddha statue of about 4 ft. tall is found inside the temple (Bell, 1904).

All these cave temples have been repainted in 1879-1880 (Bell, 1904).
Lenagala Raja Maha Viharaya

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.61.
2) Bell, H.C.P., 1904. Report on the Kegalle District of the Province of Sabaragamuwa. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: XIX-1892. Government Press, Sri Lanka. pp.30,70.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.60.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 29 May 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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