Sunday, 17 April 2022

Yapahuwa Raja Maha Viharaya

Yapahuwa Viharaya
Yapahuwa Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: යාපහුව රජ මහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in the shade of the Yapahuwa rock in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

As is evidenced by the Brahmi inscriptions in-situ, the Buddhist monastery at Yapahuwa has been established in the early Christian centuries long before the construction of the Yapahuwa Fortress by Subha (Nicholas, 1963). Large-sized bricks containing the earliest type of Brahmi letters as mason's mark have been found on the top part of the rock and also a few early Brahmi inscriptions of the 1st century A.D. have been found on a rock near a cave with drip-ledges at the foot of the rock (Paranavitana, 2001). They reveal about the donation of tanks to the Buddhist monks who were living in the monastery at Yapahuwa (Dias, 1991; Paranavitana, 2001). 
Period: 1st century A.D.                      Script: Old Sinhala                      Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (1) Bamaha-nakaraka-vavi sagike (2) Coribevire-vavi sagike
Translation: (1) The tank of Bamaha town (was given) to Sangha. (2) The tank Corabevire (was given) to Sangha.
Notes: This inscription represents the end of the period of cave inscriptions when tanks were donated to individual monasteries.
Citation: Dias, 1991. p.3.
Of these inscriptions, one has the name "Yapawa" which according to scholars, could be the earliest form of the present name Yapahuwa (Paranavitana, 2001). Also, the name of this site is found in the ancient Buddhist text Bodhivamsa (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Also, the Len Viharaya (cave temple) of Yapahuwa temple preserves a collection of paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan Period.

A protected site
The ancient paintings and sculptures in the cave temple of Yapahuwa Raja Maha Viharaya in Yapahuwa village in Mahawa Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 24 May 1963.
1) Yapahuwa (1) by Ji-Elle is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.95-97.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.1,3.
3) 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.95.
4) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.287-288.
5) The government gazette notification. No: 13644. 24 May 1963.
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This page was last updated on 2 July 2022


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