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Omalpe Tempita Viharaya

Omalpe Tempita Viharaya, also known as Omalpe Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: ඕමල්පේ ටැම්පිට විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated in Omalpe village in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka.

The Tempita Viharaya of this temple is said to have been constructed by a chieftain named Campane Rala during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha [(1798-1815 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2002]. The structure was renovated and granted lands to it by a chieftain named Omalpe Pallegama Tennakoon Mudiyanse during the time of monk Kelle Sri Saranapala Sunanda Thera in 1817 (Abeyawardana, 2002; Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas were popular in 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 form the main enclosed shrine room containing Buddhist sculptures and murals in the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. The construction of these buildings started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Omalpe Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of Omalpe temple has been built upon four stone and five timber pillars about 6 feet tall. Due to the height of these pillars, the temple is seen as a two-storied building at the distance. The upper floor is the image house while the lower level is used as an Uposathaghara (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). The upper floor of this building can be accessed through a wooden flight of steps and there is an image house surrounded by a narrow ambulatory. A Digge (dancing/audience hall) or Hewisi Mandapaya (drummers’ hall) which is considered to be the longest of its kind in the country has been built attached to this building (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). 

In the image house, there is a seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha. The inner and outer walls of this have been decorated with Buddhist murals following the Kandyan tradition (Abeyawardana, 2002). These murals can be compared to those at Walalgoda Tempita Viharaya and Maduwanwela Mudalindaramaya.

A protected site
The Omalpe Tampita Viharaya situated in Omalpe village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Embilipitiya is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government notification published on 22 November 2002.

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.35.
2) Silva, K.D. and Chandrasekara, D.P., 2021. The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture. Anthem Press. pp.144-145.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
4) 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 29 August 2022

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