Elamaldeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Elamaldeniya Viharaya
Figure 1: The cave temple at Elamaldeniya Viharaya

Elamaldeniya Purana Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: එළමල්දෙණිය පුරාණ රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist cave temple situated in Elamaldeniya village near Viharamaldeniya in Matara District, Sri Lanka.

The temple has a history running back to the early part of the Anuradhapura Period (Ranaweera, 2015). It is believed that this temple was established by King Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.) of Anuradhapura around 415 B.E. (Ranaweera, 2015; Wikramaratne, 2015). A Shloka stating this information is found engraved on one of the stone doorframes of the cave temple of Elamaldeniya Viharaya (Ranaweera, 2015). King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa is said to have made a land grant to the temple (Ranaweera, 2015). The reclining Buddha statue in the cave temple shows features of the Kandyan Period (Vanarathana, 1994).

The temple
The temple has been constructed around a cluster of caves located within a small forest in the village. The largest cave is about 50 ft. in length and 20 ft. in width and it accommodates a reclining Buddha statue 18 Riyan (length from the elbow to middle finger) in length (Ranaweera, 2015). A small cave has been reserved for God Rajjuru Bandara, a local deity who is worshipped in the area (Ranaweera, 2015).

There are remains of a destroyed inscription near the Stupa (Vanarathana, 1994; Wikramaratne, 2015). Folklore reveals that it was destroyed by locals who were not agree with the content of it (Wikramaratne, 2015).

A protected site
The image house within the precincts of Elamaldeniya Raja Maha Vihara situated in Elamaldeniya village in the Pitabeddara Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by the government Gazette notifications published on 1 November 1996.

Elamaldeniya Viharaya Elamaldeniya Viharaya Elamaldeniya Viharaya Elamaldeniya Viharaya
#) LankaPradeepa.com extends its gratitude to V. M. Vidanapathirana for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

1) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.62-65.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
3) Vanarathana, K., 1994. Matara Puravidyathmaka Ithihasaya (In Sinhala). ISBN: 955-9325-00-0. pp.191-192.
4) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.26-28.

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This page was last updated on 16 November 2023

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