Saturday, 8 April 2023

Weliwita Sanghikaramaya

Weliwita Sanghikaramaya
Weliwita Sri Sanghikaramaya also known as Weliwita Sangharajapura Sanghikarama Viharaya (Sinhala: වැලිවිට සංඝරාජපුර සාංඝිකාරාමය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Ihalagama village in Weliwita in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

The history of this temple is related to eminent Buddhist monk Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera (1698-1778 A.D.) who is considered to be the pioneer of the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka after the religion declined in the 17th and 18th centuries. He was instrumental in re-establishing the Upasampada (higher ordination) in the country in 1753 with the support of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1782 A.D.) of Kandy. He was also the last Sangharaja of Sri Lanka.

Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera was born in his mother's house located near this temple in Kudugalahena in Weliwita Ihalagama village (Abeywardana, 2004). During his childhood days, he is said to have frequented this temple (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijayawardhana, 2010). The temple was enlarged by the villagers and bestowed to Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera after he become an erudite Buddhist monk in the country (Abeywardana, 2004). However, Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera refused to accept the offering but instead, he suggested the villagers to bestow the temple to the community of Buddhist monks (Abeywardana, 2004; Wijayawardhana, 2010). Thereafter, this temple came to be known as Sanghikaramaya (Abeywardana, 2004).

The Tempita Viharaya of this temple is believed to have been built during the reign of King Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha [(1781-1798 A.D.) Rajapakse, 2016].

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas were popular in 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 form the main enclosed shrine room containing Buddhist sculptures and murals in 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).

Sanghikarama Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main monument at Sanghikarama temple. It along with the Hewisi Mandapaya has been built upon a raised foundation of 1 ft. 6 inches tall (Wijayawardhana, 2010). The Tempita structure which is 14 ft. inches in length and 10 ft. in width has been balanced on 20 stone pillars 2 ft. 9 inches in height (Wijayawardhana, 2010). A 2 ft. 6 inches wide ambulatory margined by a timber railing has been built around the sanctum (Wijayawardhana, 2010). The roof is thatched with flat clay tiles and a wooden flight of steps is built in front of the structure.

A protected site
The Tempita Viharaya at Weliwita Sanghikarama Vihara situated in Grama Niladhari Division of Weliwita, Ihalagama in Hatharaliyadda Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

See also

1) would like to thank Vishwa Sri Jayasinghe for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.94-95.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. p.135.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
4) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. pp.12,287-290.

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This page was last updated on 8 April 2023


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