Friday, May 14, 2021

Pokunuwita Raja Maha Viharaya

Pokunuwita Raja Maha Viharaya
Photo credit: Google street view

Pokunuwita Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Pokunuwita Kitsirimewan Viharaya or Gale Pansala) is a Buddhist temple situated in Pokunuvita village in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

History
Although there is no firm evidence about the establishment of this temple, the Pokunuwita rock inscription of the reign of Kitsirimewan (see below "Inscriptions" section) reveals that it was a Buddhist place of worship during the 4th century A.D. (Chandrakumari, 2018). During the days of Raigam Bandara (16th century), this temple became a prominent religious place (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Inscriptions
A rock inscription belonging to the 10th regnal year of King Kitsirimewan (301-328 A.D.) has been found from the temple premises (Hettiarachchi, 1990).

Pokunuwita Kondagngnarama rock inscription
Reign: Kitsirimewan (301-328 A.D.)               Period: 4th century A.D.
Script: Later-Brahmi                                          Language: Old Sinhala 
Content: In the 10th regnal year of King Kitsirimewan (311 A.D.), Deva the son of Siva donated the rents of his father and himself which were deposited at the marketplace to provide for the monks of Pachariya Vihara.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Director-General of Archaeology.

Image houses
There are mainly three image houses in the temple namely, Purana Viharaya, Shailamaya Viharaya, and Jetavana Viharaya. Of them, the Purana Viharaya image house has been built of Kabok (laterite) stone and clay. It consists of a Gharbha-gruha (a sanctum) and an outer ambulatory. Inside the sanctum, a seated and two standing statues of the Buddha, standing statues of God Vishnu and Saman and paintings of Buddhist monks, God Gambhara and Katharagama are found (Chandrakumari, 2018; Embuldeniya, 2013). The outer walls of the sanctum has been decorated with paintings depicting Suvisi-vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas), and Jataka-tales such as Thelapaththa (Embuldeniya, 2013). These paintings and sculptures belong to the latter part of the Kandyan Period (Chandrakumari, 2018; Embuldeniya, 2013).
 
A protected site
The rock with the inscription within the premises of the Pokunuwita Rajamaha Vihara (F.S.L. 7/37 A,45A) in Pokunuwita village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Horana, is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government notification published on 27 May 1960.

References
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.115.
2) Chandrakumari, R.A.D.N., 2018. Pokunuwita, Kithsirimewan Rajamaha Viharaye Sithuwam ha prathima pilibanda kalathmaka adyanayak (In Sinhala). URSARU - 2018 / Department of Archaeology & Heritage Management. pp.168-170.
3) Embuldeniya, P., 2013. A study on paintings at Pokunuwita Kithsirimewan Rajamaha Viharaya, In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Social Sciences, University of Kelaniya, p 11.
4) Hettiarachchi, A.S., 1990. Investigation of 2nd,3rd and 4th century inscriptions[Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume II: Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.64.
5) The Government gazette notification. No: 12136. 27 May 1960.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 16 May 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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