Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Lenawara Raja Maha Viharaya, Akarawita

Not to be confused with Lenawara Raja Maha Viharaya, Haltota

Lenawara Viharaya Akarawita
Lenawara Viharaya Akarawita (Photo credit: Google street view)

Lenawara Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Akarawita village in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

History
According to folklore, the Akarawita area was inhabited by the descendants of Raigam Bandara, a Senevi who settled in this region during the reign of King Rajasinha I [(1581-1593 A.D.) Rajapakshe et al., 2018]. However, as is evidenced by the drip-ledged caves in the temple premises, the history of this site can be dated back to the beginning of the Anuradhapura Period (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Some artefacts belonging to the Prehistoric Period have also been recorded from Asmadala Lena, a cave located near this temple (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).
 
The temple at this site is said to have been neglected and abandoned as a result of foreign invasions (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). It was re-established during the period of the Buddhist renaissance that was taken place due to the efforts of Ven. Weliwita Asaranasarana Sri Saranankara Sangharaja Thera (1698-1778) in the 18th century A.D. (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The temple
The 8 drip-ledged caves, the 19th-century cave temple, the Bhikkhu residence building and the places of Gal-bindum (rock quarries) can be identified as the archaeological monuments of Lenawara Viharaya (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Of them, the cave temple is sheltered under a drip-ledged cave of about 17 m long, 9 m wide and 8 m high (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). A reclining Buddha statue along with seated and standing statues of Buddha and paintings is found inside the cave.

A protected site
The ancient residence of Buddha Bhikkus in the Akaravita Lenawara Vihara premises in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 434 - Akarawitta in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Hanwella is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 January 2009.
 
References
1) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. pp.65-66.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. pp.107-108.
 
Location Map
This page was last updated on 6 April 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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