Pelmadulla Purana Viharaya

Pelmadulla Purana Viharaya
Pelmadulla Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: පැල්මඩුල්ල පුරාණ විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Pelmadulla town in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka.

The temple at Pelmadulla is said to have received royal patronage since its establishment during the reign of King Rajasinha I of Sitawaka [(1581-1593 A.D.) Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021]. Locals believe that King Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe (1739-1747 A.D.) donated the Pelmadulla village for the sustenance of this temple (Abeyawardana, 2002). According to the opinion of many, the Tempita Viharaya of the temple is 400 years old (Abeyawardana, 2002). However, the main temple is said to have been established during the British Period (in 1819) by Iddamalgoda Nilame, an aristocratic Chieftain in the Sabaragamuwa Province and the Basnayaka Nilame of the Ratnapura Maha Saman Devalaya (Abeyawardana, 2002; Cooray, 2012).

A Pirivena for the education of Buddhist monks was started at this temple in 1828 and it is considered the oldest such kind of institute established during the British Period (Abeyawardana, 2002). Induruwe Sumangala Medhankara Thera and his pupil Walane Sri Siddhartha Thera, the founder of Ratmalana Paramadhamma Chethiya Viharaya were a few of the renowned scholarly monks who graduated from this institute (Abeyawardana, 2002; Paranavitana, 1983).

The Dhamma Sala (the preaching hall) of the temple was constructed in 1865 (Cooray, 2012). The event Dharmasanghayana (recital of the Tripitaka) was held at this hall from July 1867 to January 1868 by Siam and Amarapura sects of Buddhist monks headed by Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera (1827-1911 A.D.) under the patronage of Iddamalgoda Nilame (Cooray, 2012). The books of the Tripitaka were revised and rewritten in ola leaves during this occasion (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan Period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Pelmadulla Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of Pelmadulla temple has been built on 16 pillars (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The Dhamma Sala
The Dhamma Sala building (the preaching hall) of this temple has been constructed following the architectural style of the southern maritime tradition influenced by colonial architecture (Cooray, 2012). The front facade of the hall has lime-plaster decorations. The wooden canopy and interior walls of the Dharmasana (the throne) are adorned with timber decorative works and paintings of the southern maritime tradition (Cooray, 2012).

Pelmadulla Purana Viharaya Pelmadulla Purana Viharaya
#) extends its gratitude to Lalith Kekulthotuwage for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.
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.  pp.23-24.
2) Cooray, N., 2012. Quarterly Tours – No. 21. The National Trust Sri Lanka. pp.5-7.
3) Paranavitana, K.D., 1983. Scholar monks of the nineteenth century and the tragic transformation of the high priest Ven. Kapugama Dhammakkhanda Thero. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka Branch, 28, pp.123-164.
4) Silva, K.D. and Chandrasekara, D.P., 2021. The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture. Anthem Press. pp.146-147.
5) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.
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This page was last updated on 14 October 2023
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