Bentota Bodhimalu Viharaya

Bentota Bodhimalu Viharaya
Bodhimalu Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: බෙන්තොට බෝධිමළු රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated on the verge of the Bentota Ganga River in Bodhimalu village in Galle District, Sri Lanka.

According to locals, the history of this site runs back to the early Anuradhapura Period probably to the time of King Devanampiyatissa [(247-207 B.C.) Ranchagoda, 2015]. It is believed that the present Bodhimalu Viharaya stands on the site where the Bodhi tree of the ancient Bemtota Maha Viharaya was once located (Ranchagoda, 2015). Although presently function as separate temples, the four Viharas; Galapatha, Bem Vehera, Wanawasa and Udakotuwa Bodhi Sameepa which are situated in the vicinity of Bodhimalu Viharaya are said to have formed one major Buddhist monastery named Bemtota Maha Viharaya during the ancient period.

Bodhimalu Viharaya is said to have been developed during the reign of King Saddhatissa (137- 119 B.C.) and the name Bodhimalu Viharaya is mentioned in Nampota, an ancient Sinhalese text which is considered to have been compiled after the 14th century A.D. (Ranchagoda, 2015).

As happened to the many Buddhist temples in the southern coastal region, Bodhimalu Vehera also fell victim to the wrath of the Portuguese who arrived in Sri Lanka in the early 16th century. The temple was re-established during the Buddhist revival that occurred in the region in the 18th century (Ranchagoda, 2015). A trivial mention of this temple is found in the diary of E. R. Ayrton (b.1882-d.1914), an English Egyptologist and archaeologist who died in an accident on the Tissa Wewa in Tissamaharama (Ayrton, 1920).

#) would like to thank Lalith Kekulthotuwage for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

1) Ayrton, E.R., 1920. Antiquities in the Southern Province. The Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register. Vol: VI. p.44.
2) Ranchagoda, T. O., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Galla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-53-4. p.10.

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This page was last updated on 15 October 2023

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