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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