Seegala Purana Viharaya (Weeraketiya)

Seegala Purana Viharaya
Figure 1: The Tempita building (the Temple of Pillars) at Seegala Viharaya

Seegala Purana Viharaya, also known as Seehala Viharaya (Sinhala: සීගල පුරාණ විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated near Udakiriwila Wewa in Weeraketiya in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

The history of Seegala Viharaya runs back to the pre-Chritian era. It is said that this temple was established during the reign of King Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.) by a provincial governor named Girikandha (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). The Tempita Viharaya was constructed at the site by a local chieftain in the mid-eighteenth century (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).

Seegala Tempita Viharaya
Seegala Purana Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of Seegala temple has been built on about 17 short stone pillars. The walls of the sanctum where the main Buddha image is placed are taller than the peripheral walls of the narrow ambulatory that runs around the sanctum (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). The structure has a two-tiered hip roof, one for the sanctum and one for the ambulatory. The outer surface of the peripheral walls is moulded to create decorative niches while the outer walls of the sanctum are adorned with a Makara-torana (dragon arch), Jataka stories, and images of gods (Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). The inner walls of the sanctum are painted with Arhats carrying flowers.

A small Mandapa consisting of four stone pillars has been built in front of the Tempita building.

A protected site
The Tempita Vihara within the precincts of Weeraketiya Seehala Purana Vihara situated within the Grama Niladhari Division of Buddhiyagama East in the Weeraketiya Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Seegala Purana Viharaya Seegala Purana Viharaya
1) Silva, K.D. and Chandrasekara, D.P., 2021. The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture. Anthem Press. pp.154-155.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.523.
3) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.

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This page was last updated on 10 December 2023

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