Wilandagoda Aranya

Wilandagoda Aranya, also known as Virandagoda Archaeological site (Sinhala: විරන්දගොඩ, විලඳගොඩ පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය), is a ruined Buddhist cave temple situated in Wilandagoda in Puttalam District, Sri Lanka.


The Early Brahmi Inscriptions, dilapidated Stupas and stone-pillared ruins at the site indicate that Wilandagoda was a Buddhist monastery since the pre-Christian era (Nicholas, 1963). One inscription of the 2nd or 1st century B.C. records the donation of a cave by the Nakaravudika (city architect), the high official who had charge of the Capital Anuradhapura (Nicholas, 1963).

Virandagoda Cave Inscription of Nakaravudika

Period: 2-1 century B.C.                   Script: Early Brahmi                  Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: Nakara-vudika-Baranigutaha lene agata-anagata-catu-shagasha
Translation: The cave of Bharanigutta, the City Architect, [is given] to the four Sanghas, present and absent.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970.p.85.

Vaharala Inscriptions

More than ten rock inscriptions of this type have been discovered from the site. Belonging to the period between 4-5 centuries A.D., these inscriptions have been written in the Old Sinhala language using the later Brahmi script. According to the eminent archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana, Vaharala cidavi means manumission from slavery. Sirimal Ranawella believes that it means redemption from Vihara salaka while Malini Dias thinks that it means freedom from compulsory service. The merit gathered by performing the act is bestowed upon all beings. Village names such as Ratayagama, Sayalapavatarata, and individual names such as Vasaba, Mavarasala, Nakali, are mentioned in the inscriptions.

Virandagoda Pillar Inscription

This inscription is dated in the 3rd regnal year of King Sena II [(853-887 A.D.) Ranawella, 2001]. The object of this record was to register certain immunities granted by order of a Mahaya named Mihind (Mahinda) in respect of a village and other land attached to a monastery named Salvana-vehera situated at Nadunnaru in Kasigamubim sub-district (Ranawella, 2001). It is evident from this epigraph that the present monastery ruins at Wilandagoda had been known as Salvana Vehera in ancient times (Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2001).

The chronicle Mahavamsa refers to two monasteries named Salavana Vihara (Salvana Vehera), one built by King Dhatusena (455-473 A.D.) and the other by a prince named Aggabodhi, an independent ruler of Rohana (Ranawella, 2001). According to Sirimal Ranawella, the Salavana Vihara which was founded by King Dhatusena in the 5th century A.D. is none other than the present Wilandagoda Viharaya (Ranawella, 2001).


The site was excavated and conserved by the Department of Archaeology in 2012. Archaeological remains belonging to the AnuradhapuraPolonnaruwa and Kandyan periods have been identified and preserved today.


1) 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.89.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.85-86.
3) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.20-23.

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This page was last updated on 1 January 2024

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