Viharahinna Archaeological Site

Viharahinna Archaeological Site (Sinhala: විහාරහින්න පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය) is a ruined Buddhist monastery site situated in Moragolla near Galewela in Matale District, Sri Lanka. It has been identified as a site revered by both Buddhist and Hindu people in the 12th century A.D. (Kekulawala, 2021).

Although the history of the establishment of this temple is obscure, historical sources record that the site was the place where Prince Dutugemunu (reigned: 161-137 B.C.) met his mother Viharamahadevi on his way to war with King Elara [(205-161 B.C.) Kekulawala, 2021]. Accordingly, this place has been named Viharahinna after his mother (Kekulawala, 2021).

A fragmentary pillar inscription either by King Sena II (853-887 A.D.) or King Kassapa IV (898-914 A.D.) that was discovered at the site reveals the ancient name of this Buddhist monastery as Agni Giri Pirivena (Ranawella, 2005).

Viharahinna Tamil Inscription
A slab inscription indited in an admixture of Tamil and Grantha characters of the 12th century A.D. has been discovered within the premises of the Buddhist monastery (Pathmanathan, 1998). It consists of 37 lines of writing and some figures of metallic lamps, an unfolded umbrella, a crescent, a sword, a drum and a weapon similar to a scimitar (Pathmanathan, 1998). This inscription is of significance as it reveals details about a market town called Tanmacakarap-pattinam alias Macenakamam (Sinhala: Mahasenagama) as well as the close interaction between two merchant guilds (Annurruvar and Viravalanciyar) and a Buddhist institution (Pathmanathan, 1998). The record also pertains to an incident of conflict between a local chieftain and the merchants (Pathmanathan, 1998).

The site
The temple has been constructed within a rectangular courtyard surrounded by walls of brick construction (Pathmanathan, 1998). The site mainly consists of Stupas,  a few image houses, a broken granite Buddha statue about 11 ft. in height, and a few inscriptions in Sinhala and Tamil (Abeyawardana, 2004; Pathmanathan, 1998; Ranawella, 2005). A few guard stones, Moonstones and Wingstones without ornaments are several artefacts found at the site. A Siripathula and some fragments of bricks and stones including a broken figure of a crouching bull are also recorded.

The main monastic feature of Viharahinna is the sub-Panchayatana Pirivena system (Kekulawala, 2021). This is a kind of Bhikkhu monastery which originated in the Abhayagiriya belonging to the Mahayana Dharmaruchi sect and developed in temples such as the Jetavanaramaya and Mihintale as well as Mirisawetiya (Kekulawala, 2021).

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.171.
2) Kekulawala, N.D., 2021. Economic and religious transparency of the Tamil trading community revealed in the Viharahinna inscription in the twelfth century AD. Global Scientific Journals: Volume 9, Issue 8. ISSN 2320-9186. pp.1606-1615.
3) Pathmanathan, S., 1998. The Nakaram of the Nanadesin in Sri Lanka: The Tanmacakarap-pattinam at Viharehinna. The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, Vol. xxiv & xxv, no .1 & 2. pp.112-122
4) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. p.94.

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This page was last updated on 10 February 2023

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