Mawela Raja Maha Viharaya (Kadugannawa)

Mawela Raja Maha Viharaya , also known as Pahala Kadugannawa Mawela Viharaya or Walagamba Viharaya or Mawela Kande Viharaya (Sinhala: මාවෙල විහාරය, පහල මාවෙල විහාරය, වලගම්බා විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated in Pahala Kadugannawa village in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

As the presence of Early Brahmi Inscriptions, the history of this site can be dated back to the pre-Christian era. Locals link the history of this place to King Valagamba [(89-77 A.D.) Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009]. According to another belief, this temple was built by Queen Henakanda Biso Bandara during the Gampola Period (Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009). The Vihara-ge and the Stupa are said to have been built in the reign of King Parakramabahu VI [(1412-1467 A.D.) Bell, 1904].

The temple is mentioned in Nampota, an ancient Sinhalese text which is considered to have been compiled after the 14th century.

As discovered by Ambanwala & Karunaratne, there are four early-Brahmi inscriptions at the site (Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009). Of them, three are cave inscriptions and the other one is engraved on a Korawak-gala [(wingstones) Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009].

Period: 3rd century B.C.- 1st century A.D.              Script: Early Brahmi               Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: [Paru]ma(ka) (Ku)yana ca Gapati sama Kulasa (lene)
Translation: The cave of the chief Kuyana and householder sama family.
Reference: Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009. p.612.

The temple
The temple consists of several rock caves, a Stupa house, an image house, a Bodhi tree, and monks' residence. A reclining Buddha statue similar in style to the images found in Dambulla Viharaya is accommodated in one cave of about 35 ft. long and 8 ft. wide (Abeyawardana, 2002). The ceiling and the walls of the cave have been adorned with paintings belonging to the Kandyan tradition (Abeyawardana, 2002; Ambanwala & Karunaratne, 2009; Bell, 1904). In another cave, measuring 30 ft. in length, 20 ft. in width, and 20 ft. in height, is a Stupa built out of bricks and clay (Abeyawardana, 2002). The Stupa, in height 19 ft. by 8 ft. 6 in. circumference built on a square platform, 11 ft. 6 in. (Bell, 1904). Four seated Buddha statues meditating under Makara-Torana (dragon arch) have been placed on the four sides of the Stupa (Abeyawardana, 2002; Bell, 1904; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

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.57
2) Ambanwala, C.B. and Karunaratne, M., 2009. Another Approach to the Malaya Desa in Ancient Sri Lanka: New Archaeological Revelations in and Around Pahala-Mawela Temple at Kadugannawa. Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka Vol. 14, 3'd December 2009. pp.611-613. 
3) 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. p.51.
4) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. pp.73,78.

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This page was last updated on 4 October 2022

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