Friday, 16 December 2022

Uddhakandara Viharaya

Uddhakandara Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: උද්ධකන්දර විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated near Yodhakandiya Wewa in Tissamaharama in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

A few early-Brahmi inscriptions dated to c. 250 B.C.E. has been discovered at the temple premises (Somadeva, 2006). They indicate that this site was an ancient Buddhist monastery since the pre-Christian era (Nicholas, 1963).

Uddhakandara Cave Inscription of Matamata
Period: 3rd century B.C.-1st century A.D.                   Script: Early Brahmi                  Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: Lene shagasha matamata-Tishsha lene shagasha
Translation: The cave of the Sangha. The cave of Maha-Matta Tissa [is given] to the Sangha.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970.p.53.

Presently it is believed that this is the ancient Uddhakandara Viharaya which is said to have been founded by Mahanaga, the younger brother of King Devanampiyatissa [(247-207 B.C.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 2001]. However, a later-Brahmi rock inscription (2nd century A.D.) discovered at the site reveals the ancient name of this temple as "Nakaragalaka", a monastery of which name is not found in any chronicle (Paranavitana, 2001). This inscription registers a private grant of a number of Kahapanas, from the interest of which non-spirituous drinks were to be supplied to the Sangha on the occasion of Ariyavasa celebration at the Nakaragalaka monastery (Paranavitana, 2001).

A protected site
The caves, inscriptions and building ruins at Uddhakandara Vihara premises in Ranakeliya village in Tissamaharama Divisional Secretariat Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.130.
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.61.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.53.
4) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.266-267.
5) Somadeva, R., 2006. Urban origins in southern Sri Lanka. Doctoral thesis in Archaeology at Uppsala University. p.120.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996. 

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This page was last updated on 16 January 2023


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