Bahirawakanda and Buddha Statue (Kandy)

Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
Bahirawakanda (Sinhala: බහිරවකන්ද සහ බුද්ධ ප්‍රථිමාව) is a mountain [600 m (1,965.5 ft. amsl)] located west of Kandy town in Central Province, Sri Lanka. Presently, this site has gained recognition among people due to the massive Buddha statue erected on its summit.

In the Sinhala language, Bahirawa-kanda means "the mountain of Bahirawa". According to local belief, Bahirawa is a spirit controlling the mineral sources (Abeyawardana, 2004). When commencing a new construction such as a house, some people offer a Bahirawa Puja to this spirit as a customary practice (Abeyawardana, 2004).

There are several stories explaining how Bahirawakanda Mountain got its name. According to one story, this mountain once had a shrine dedicated to Bahirawa.

History of Bahirawakanda Viharaya
BahirawakandaThe Bahirawakanda Viharaya, also known as Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya, on the summit of the mountain has been established on land donated in the early 1970s to late Buddhist monk Ampitiye Dhammarama Thera of Amarapura Nikaya by Hector Kobbekaduwa, Minister of Land in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Government (Abeysekara, 2002). Initially, Ampitiye Dhammarama Thera resided in a small shelter on the hill collecting funds for the construction of a temple (Abeysekara, 2002). However, the head monks of the Temple of Tooth Relic opposed this plan as they were in fear that the new temple from a different fraternity would overshadow the centre of the Siyam Nikaya (Abeysekara, 2002). In the early 1980s, the monks wrote to the then President J. R. Jayewardene (office: 1978-1989) demanding the removal of Ampitiye Dhammarama Thera from Bahirawakanda but this was not successful as, in the mid-1980s,  a chief monk of Amarapura Nikaya, Hinatiyana Dhammaloka Thera, compelled Ranasinghe Premadasa (President: 1989-1993) to intervene and legally grant the Bahirawakanda land to Ampitiye Dhammarama Thera (Abeysekara, 2002). 

Bahirawakanda Buddha Statue
In the late 1980s, Ampitiye Dhammarama Thera started to construct a giant Buddha statue at the site and the project later received some financial support from President Ranasinghe Premadasa (Abeyawardana, 2004; Abeysekara, 2002). The completed statue was unveiled by the President in January 1993 (Abeysekara, 2002).

The Buddha statue is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation. Standing up to a height of 25.85 m (84.80 ft.), the statue presently has become an iconic feature of Kandy City (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
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1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.46.
2) Abeysekara, A., 2002. Colors of the robe: religion, identity, and difference. Univ of South Carolina Press. pp.167-169

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This page was last updated on 26 August 2023
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