Saturday, March 20, 2021

Rajakulawadana Viharaya

Rajakulawadana Viharaya
Photo credit: Jahufer Mohamed, Google street view

Rajakulawadana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Weligama village in Matara District, Sri Lanka.

History
Although this temple is presently functioning as a separate monastery, it is considered as having formed a part of the monastic complex of Agrabodhi Viharaya that associated with one of the saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015). Therefore, the origin of this temple dates back to the Anuradhapura Period (Abeyawardana, 2004). 

A reference to this temple is found in the chronicle Culavamsa [(the latter part of Mahavamsa) Abeyawardana, 2004; Dias, 1991; Wikramaratne, 2015]. It says that a general named Swaraja Kulawardhana Devadhikari (or Ayasmanta) established a Pirivena or a religious school for the Agrabodhi Viharaya during the reign of Queen Kalyanawathi (1202-1208 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa (Abeyawardana, 2004; Dias, 1991). Many consider the present Rajakulavadana Viharaya as that monastic site established by general Ayasmanta (Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1961).

King Panditha Parakramabahu (1302-1326 A.D.) of Dambadeniya is believed to have erected a two-storied long building named Parakramabahu Pasada at Weligama temple and granted it the village of Saligiri [(present Algiriya) Nicholas, 1963; Wikramaratne, 2015]. An in-situ slab inscription of the 14-15th century A.D. reveals the construction of a promenade for the community of monks by a minister named Kalu Parakrama during the reign of a king styled Sirisangabo Sri Bhuvanaikabahu Cakravarti [probably King Buwanekabahu IV (1341-1351 A.D.) Dias, 1991; Wikramaratne, 2015]. 

A reference to this temple is also found in Kokila Sandeshaya written during the Kotte Period (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015).

The temple
The image house of this temple is apparently old. It consists of two Malas and two arch-shaped doors decorated with Makara-Thorana (dragon-arch) provide access to the inner shrine room (Wikramaratne, 2015). A Buddha statue in reclining posture and murals depicting Jataka-tales such as Ummagga are found inside it (Wikramaratne, 2015).

The preaching hall of the temple has been built in 2476 B.E. [(1932 A.D.) Wikramaratne, 2015]. Several ancient monuments such as fragments of stone pillars, Pinthaliya, and foot-washing stone bowls are found scattered in the temple premises.

A protected site
The ancient image house (with paintings and sculptures) and the Chethiya (the Stupa) of Rajakula Wadana Raja Maha Vihara located in Weligama village in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Weligama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.54,56.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.41-42.
3) Nicholas, C. W., 1961. Additions and amendments to the Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VII. Part 2). Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.226.
4) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.72.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.127.
6) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.12-13.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 25 July 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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