Kotikagoda Raja Maha Viharaya

Kotikagoda Viharaya
Figure 1: The sculptures and paintings in the image house of Kotikagoda Viharaya

Kotikagoda Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: කොටිකාගොඩ රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Wewahamanduwa village near Walgama in Matara District, Sri Lanka.

Although some link the history of Kotikagoda temple to the time of King Kumaradasa (513-522 A.D) of Anuradhapura, this temple is believed to have been established early 18th century (Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994; Wikramaratne, 2015). However, some believe that the temple received the patronage of King Mayadunna (1521-1581 A.D.) and Rajasinha I (1581-1593 A.D.) of Sitawaka (Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994; Wikramaratne, 2015). It is said that this temple flourished during the period of the Sitawaka Kingdom but Buddhist monks had to leave the temple when the Portuguese who arrived in Sri Lanka in the early 16th century destroyed the main religious places in the Matara area including the famous Devinuwara Devalaya (Ranaweera, 2015).

Above the entrance door of the old image house which is thought to be the oldest surviving structure of the temple is a description with the date 25 June 1829 (Abeyawardana, 2004; Vanarathana, 1994). It records that the image house was constructed on that day by Walgama Kirthi Sri Dammananda Patharata Nayaka Sthavira.

The image house
The image house is considered the most important monument of the Kotikagoda temple. Although it retains most of its original appearance, the outer shell of the building has been modified and altered later to give a modern appearance (Abeyawardana, 2004). It was originally a square image house sheltering the statue of a seated Buddha at the centre of the back wall (Abeyawardana, 2004). This statue is constructed in the style of the Kandyan Period evidenced by its round face, protruding lips, the ridge between the nose, the lip and the chin and folds of the robe shown as small waves (Abeyawardana, 2004). Two small shrines of deities Visnu and Kataragama are found on either side of this Buddha statue.

The ceiling of the image house is filled with paintings depicting nine planetary gods, twelve signs of the horoscope, Hamsa Puttuwa (four swans with entangled necks), Satara Naga Kunjaraya (four king cobras linked together) etc. (Abeyawardana, 2004). Figures of Siva Aghora and Siva Vatuka have been painted on the two sides of the outer entrance of the image house (Vanarathana, 1994). A small Siam (present Thailand) painting received to the temple in 1790 has been fixed onto the wall above the entrance door of the inner Buddha shrine (Ranaweera, 2015). It depicts a golden Buddha accompanied by deities Kataragama and Ganesha (Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994).

Kotikagoda Viharaya Kotikagoda 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) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.58-59.
2) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.122-124.
3) Vanarathana, K., 1994. Matara Puravidyathmaka Ithihasaya (In Sinhala). ISBN: 955-9325-00-0. pp.29,170-171,259-260.
4) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.37-38.

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This page was last updated on 22 November 2023

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