Saturday, 27 March 2021

Kahatapitiya Mosque

Kahatapitiya Mosque
Kahatapitiya Mosque (Sinhala: කහටපිටිය පල්ලිය) is an orthodox Muslim Mosque near Gampola town in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

The history of this site probably runs back to the Gampola Period [(1341-1412 A.D.) Silva et al., 2016]. According to folklore, a saint named Athaulla who came on a pilgrimage to Adam's Peak had obtained a plot of land from King Bhuvanekabahu IV (1341-1350 A.D.) and later taken up residence there (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). It is said that he had selected that site because of the view of Adams Peak that he could see from there (Abeyawardana, 2004). After his death, the mosque was erected at this site (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

According to another belief, the body of Henakanda Biso Bandara has been buried at this place (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Bawa Khauf shrine
Besides the main mosque, there is a separate shrine dedicated to an Awlia (a Sufi saint) named Bawa Khauf who is believed to have arrived in Kahatapitiya from Mecca (Silva et al., 2016). As is typical of Sufi shrines, this shrine also contains the tomb of that saint (Silva et al., 2016). According to Obeyesekere, this shrine is a popular sorcery shrine among Muslims as well as Buddhists (Obeyesekere, 1975).

The architectural style of this shrine is different from the style of typical Muslim shrines (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The walls have been plastered with lime and some parts of them are covered with glazed ceramic wall tiles (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). 

Wahabi influence
Some Muslims who returned to Sri Lanka after went to the Middle East for employment had started a campaign to discredit the Awlia shrine in the 1990s as they identified it as a place conducting anti-Islamic practices that are not in conformity with Wahabi teachings (Silva et al., 2016). 

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.63.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.134.
3) Obeyesekere, G., 1975. Sorcery, premeditated murder, and the canalization of aggression in Sri Lanka. Ethnology, 14(1), pp.1-23.
4) Silva, K.T., Niwas, A. and Wickramasinghe, W.M.K.B., 2016. Religious Interface and Contestations between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies, pp.24-25.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 30 May 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map


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