Berendi Kovil

Berendi Kovil
Photo credit: Pasindu Galgomuwa, Google Street View

Berendi Kovil (Sinhala: බැරණ්ඩි කෝවිල) is a ruined Hindu temple situated in Sitawaka in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka..

The history of Berendi Kovil runs back to the middle of the 16th century (Bell, 1904). Although some believe that Berendi Kovil was built by King Mayadunna (1521-1581 A.D.), the majority are in the belief that this was built by his son, King Rajasinghe I (1581-1593 A.D.). Local tradition says that Rajasinghe I built this shrine after embracing Hinduism in his efforts to escape from the curse of murdering his father, Mayadunna (Bell, 1904; Abeyawardana, 2002). As a result of this deed and his other anti-Buddhist measurements, Rajasinghe I lost his grace among the people of the kingdom (Bell, 1904). Arittakivendu Perumal, the Hindu priest who converted the king to Hinduism is said to have guided in the construction of this shrine (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The name Berendi Kovil is said to be the corrupted version of Berendu Kovil which means "the temple to get redemption" (Bell, 1904).

The Kovil
Berendi Kovil is considered one of the major archaeological monuments belonging to the Sitawaka Kingdom (1521-1593 A.D.). Built-in accordance to the Hindu architecture of South Indian Vijayanagar tradition, this shrine is believed to have been dedicated to Kali Yakshani (devil she Kali).

The site consists of three levels and the Kovil has been erected on the upper level. The Kovil is rectangular in shape and rises from a paved basement. The stones at the base of the building contain carvings depicting flower and leaf designs. Carved water spouts, volute balustrades, moonstones, and many dressed stone slabs, and door-frames are also found at the site (Bell, 1904). A canal paved with stones links the Kovil to the nearby Sitawaka Ganga River (Abeyawardana, 2002). 

After this shrine was abandoned, the materials of the Kovil building are believed to have been dismantled to build other nearby constructions. A few short accounts about the ruins of Berendi Kovil are found in the notes by Percival (1800), Forbes (1827), H. White, C.J.R. Le Mesurier (1885), and F.H. Price [(1887) Bell, 1904]. The site was conserved by H.C.P. Bell in 1895. In 2003, the Department of Archaeology conserved the stone monument using bricks to replace damaged parts.

A protected monument
The stone bridge on the way to historic Berandi Kovila in the Grama Niladhari Division of Pahalathalduuwa bearing No.118 in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Dehiovita is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Berendi Kovil
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.67.
2) 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. pp.63-65.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.128.

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This page was last updated on 11 June 2023

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