Pethangahawatta Raja Maha Viharaya

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

Pethangahawatta Sri Sudarmarama Purana Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: පෙතංගහවත්ත ශ්‍රී සුධර්මාරාම රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Komangoda village near Thihagoda in Matara District, Sri Lanka.

The Stupa of this temple is believed to have been erected in 1243 A.D. or during the Dambadeniya Period (Ranaweera, 2015). The image house was constructed during the Kandyan Period (Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranaweera, 2015). Although it had been constructed as a three-story building, it was reduced to two stories in 1936 (Wikramaratne, 2015). The temple also preserves a collection of old ola leaf manuscripts testifying its antiquity (Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranaweera, 2015).

The temple
The temple is situated in an environment surrounded by paddy fields and small hills. The Stupa, Bodhi tree (Ficus religosa) and the image house are located on a higher terrace and can be reached through a stone-cut flight of steps. Among the old monuments, the image house is considered important (Ranaweera, 2015). Consists of two sections, viz; inner chamber and outer ambulatory, the image house preserves a collection of murals done in the Kandyan art tradition. 

The inner chamber of the image house accommodates a seated Buddha statue in the meditation posture and it is flanked on either side by two standing Buddha statues with the hand gesture of Abhaya Mudra which is rare to see in the Kandyan sculptures (Ranaweera, 2015). The inner walls have been filled with murals showing traditional Buddhist themes including the Suvisi-vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas) and the first 80 disciples of the Buddha (Ranaweera, 2015; Wikramaratne, 2015). The paintings of God Kataragama and Visnu are also found. The paintings in the ceiling depict nine planetary gods and other floral designs and they have been retouched in the 1930s (Abeyawardana, 2004). The outer walls of the inner chamber are adorned with murals depicting Jataka stories such as Dahamsonda, Vessantara and Telapatta (Ranaweera, 2015; Wikramaratne, 2015). 

Pethangahawatta Viharaya Pethangahawatta Viharaya
#) 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. p.85.
2) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.171-173.
3) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.43-44.

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This page was last updated on 23 November 2023

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