Ambulugala Danthapaya Viharaya

Ambulugala Sri Danthapaya Tempita Viharaya (Sinhala: අම්බුළුගල ශ්‍රී දන්තපාය ටැම්පිට විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Ambulugala in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. The temple is named Danthapaya Viharaya since it has been constructed as a replica of the Kandy Temple of the Tooth Relic (Abeyawardana, 2002). 

Ambulugala, as revealed by historical sources, was a sub-kingdom during the Kotte Kingdom (Abeyawardana, 2002; Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021; Wijayawardhana 2010]. 

The Tempita Viharaya of Ambulugala temple is said to have been built during the reign of King Parakramabahu VII (1480-1490 A.D.) for the safe keeping of the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). It was built under the guidance of Vakoladeniye Nallaperumal Achari (master architect), presumably the architect of the royal court (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). In the initial design, the upper storey of this building was used as a relic chamber while the lower storey as an image house (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). Several major renovations were done to the temple between 1869 and 1885 period under the guidance of Wattegama Dharmakeerti Sri Sumangala Thera (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Wijayawardhana 2010). As a result of these changes, the lower storey became an open pavilion and the upper storey an image house (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas 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. The construction of these buildings started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Ambulugala Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of Ambulugala temple is a two-storied building balanced on 28 stone pillars of 7 ft. 6 inches tall (Wijayawardhana 2010). The building is 33 ft. 6 inches in length and 26 ft. 3 inches in width (Wijayawardhana 2010). A flight of steps made of wood provide access to the upper storey where a thick clay-walled Buddha shrine surrounded by a narrow ambulatory is found. The Buddha shrine is 11 ft. 6 inches in length and 8 ft. 6 inches in width (Wijayawardhana 2010). The paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan Period are accommodated in the Buddha shrine (Abeyawardana, 2002). 

The Tempita Viharaya is also popular for the elaborately carved stone doorway that is placed in the lower storey (Wijayawardhana 2010). It has been decorated with carvings representing Gaja Lakshmi, dancers, drummers, floral patterns and lions (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The stone columns of the lower storey and the wooden columns of the upper storey are also carved with motifs used in the Kotte Period (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021).

A protected site
The two-storied Tempita image house in the Ambulugala Sri Danthapaya Raja Maha Vihara situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Ambulugala in Mawanella Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 9 September 2011.

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.72.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.40.
3) Silva, K.D. and Chandrasekara, D.P., 2021. The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture. Anthem Press. pp.126-127.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1723. 9 September 2011. p.109.
4) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. pp.12,61-73.

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This page was last updated on 6 August 2022

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