Katugahagalge Raja Maha Viharaya

Katugahagalge Viharaya
Katugahagalge Raja Maha Viharaya, also known as Aturugiri Viharaya (Sinhala: කටුගහගල්ගේ රජමහා විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple in Muthukeliyawa village near Buttala town in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. The site is located close to Kongaha Wewa on Buttala-Badalkumbura Road.

The history of this temple dates back to the beginning of the Christian era. In 2013, an Early Brahmi Inscription was discovered engraved just below one of the drip-ledged caves at the temple site (Wickramarachchi, 2022).

Period: 2nd century B.C-1st century A.D.               Language: Old Sinhala               Script: Early Brahmi
Transcript: ......devasha lene
Translation: ......Deva's cave
Notes: The inscription was copied on 31 July 2013 and documented under register no. 4073.
References: Wickramarachchi, 2022. pp.64-65.

The main cave at this site is 300 ft. in length, 50 ft. in width and 18 ft. in height and on the steep side of a huge granite rock on the top of which is a small Stupa now renovated (Paranavitana, 1933). A part of this cave has been walled to form a shrine and six cells as living quarters for the monks (Paranavitana, 1933). In front of the cave, ruins of several ancient structures are found. Near the southern end of the cave is an inscribed pillar known as a Gavutha Pillar, a type of milepost with an inscription set up by King Nissankamalla during his reign from 1187 to 1196 A.D. (Paranavitana, 1933; Ranawella, 2007).

The pillar is said to have been brought to the temple premises in 1924 from a neighbouring jungle by the incumbent of the Viharaya (Paranavitana, 1933). It measures 10.5 inches by 9.5 inches and stands at a height of about 6 ft. (Paranavitana, 1933). The inscription covers two sides of the pillar and the script and the language of the record is Sinhala of the 12th century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1933).

Katugahagalge Pillar Inscription of Nissankamalla
Katugahagalge Pillar Inscription of Nissankamalla

Reign: Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Period: 12th century A.D.
Language: Medieval Sinhala
Script: Medieval Sinhala
Content: King Nissankamalla advises his subjects in Ruhuna to avoid listening to humiliating remarks from the people of Maya, craving for others' possessions and avoiding being haughty. Mention is made of two missions to the Pandya Country where Tulabhara was performed (presentations made equivalent to one's weight) and return to Sri Lanka with concubines, elephants, horses and gifts from the Cola Country. The performance of a tour covering of the three kingdoms (Ruhunu, Maya, Pihiti) through rocky and tortuous passages such as the Samanala Rock is also mentioned. In the inscription, this pillar has been designated as a Gavutha Pillar. 

References: Paranavitana, 1933; Ranawella, 2007.

A protected site
The cave temple with inscription in precincts of Katugahagalge Purana Len Vihara situated in Muthukeliyawa village in the Badalkumbura Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

Katugahagalge Viharaya Katugahagalge Viharaya
#) LankaPradeepa.com extends its gratitude to Lalith Kekulthotuwage for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

1) Paranavitana, S., 1933. Katugaha-galge pillar inscription. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.325-331.
2) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.184-196.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002. 
4) Wickramarachchi, C., 2022. අභිලේඛන සංග්‍රහය-4 (Abhilekhana Sangrahaya-4). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-624-5840-17-5. pp.64-65.

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This page was last updated on 12 September 2023
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