Menikdena Archeological Reserve

Menikdena Archeological Reserve is a ruined Buddhist site situated in Atha Bendiwewa village in Matale. It was popular in the past as Budgam Vehera.
Menikdena Archeological Reserve

Menikdena Archeological Reserve (Sinhala: මැණික්දෙන පුරාවිද්‍යා රක්ෂිතය) is a ruined Buddhist site situated in Atha Bendiwewa village in Matale District, Sri Lanka. It was popular among ancients by the name of Budgam Vehera (Uduwara, 1990).


The history of this site runs back to the 3rd century B.C. (Abeyawardana, 2004). It is believed that one of the Kshatriya families who accompanied the Sri Maha Bodhi tree had settled down in the Menikdena area (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A slab containing an inscription of the 8th-9th centuries A.D. has been found on this monastery site. It records the grant by a resident of Koboyatela of fields named Mahadenavulu to Buthgamu Viharaya (or Budgam Vehera) which is believed to be the ruined monastery at the present Menikdena site (Nicholas, 1963). As mentioned in the chronicles, King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) captured the Cola fort at Buddhagama (probably present Menikdena) and Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) made this area his first headquarters in his campaign against King Gajabahu II [(1131-1153 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. Also, the names Budgamu and Budgamiya are mentioned in the Sigiri Graffiti (Uduwara, 1990).

Menikdena Slab Inscription

Period: 8-9 centuries A.D.                Script: Medieval Sinhala                Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: The inscription says that the wife of Sen of Koboyatela paid five Kalandas of gold and made an outright purchase of five Palas of paddy land named Mahadenavulu of the Buthgamu Vihara and donated the same for the ticket meals. It further mentions that this gift would last till the Sun and the Moon endure.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

A Panchawasa Shrine

Menikdena temple complex has been constructed according to the Panchawasa style that is discussed in Manjusri's treatise on architecture (Abeyawardana, 2004). The complex contains five edifices, viz: Bodhighara (Bodhi tree shrine), Stupa, Patimagharas (image house), Uposathaghara (chapter house) and Sabhasala. The edifices were constructed on a raised ground and four entrances were facing cardinal points (Abeyawardana, 2004). The Department of Archaeology has conserved the ruined Stupa at this site to a height of about 18 ft. This Stupa is believed to have been constructed during the days of King Sena II (853-887 A.D.) per the palaeographical evidence of the inscribed bricks (Uduwara, 1990).

An Archaeological Reserve

The land plot named Menikdena Puravidya Sthanaya (P.P.A. 222 lot 1,2,3, & 4 land plots: consist of 40 acres, 3 roods, 17 perches) situated in Atha Bendiwewa village is an archaeological reserve, declared by a government gazette notification published on 26 April 1957.


1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.173.
2) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.111.
3) The Gazette notification. no: 11112. 26 April 1957.
4) Uduwara, J., 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology, 1970-1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. p.167.

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This page was last updated on 10 March 2024

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