Pethmaga Purana Viharaya

Pethmaga Viharaya
Figure 1: The image house at Pethmaga Viharaya

Pethmaga Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: රොටුඹ පෙත්මග පුරාණ විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Rotumba village in Matara District, Sri Lanka. The ancient temple, Budugala Viharaya is located about 1.5 km south of Pethmaga Viharaya.

Although there is no evidence to prove it, locals link this temple's history to the reign of King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa (Ranaweera, 2015). It is believed that in the past there was a temple on the land named Budawala which is located within the boundary of the present temple (Ranaweera, 2015). With the passage of time, this temple vanished from the landscape and the Budawala land gradually became a paddy field. Rotumba, the name of the village where the present temple is situated is thought to have evolved from the Ron-mada (mud and silt) that accumulated in this paddy field (Ranaweera, 2015).

Pethmaga Purana Viharaya
There are two Bodhi trees at the site and one of them is believed to be the original Bodhi tree planted in the first temple (Ranaweera, 2015). The other one is a sapling brought from the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura (Ranaweera, 2015). The building and structures of the present temple were constructed in 1735, before the re-establishment of higher ordination during the days of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1781 A.D.) of Kandy (Ranaweera, 2015).

The sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha is said to have been brought to the nearby Kolawenigama Viharaya along the route that fell through the Pethmaga Viharaya during the Kandyan period (Ranaweera, 2015). Remembering this incident, a procession following the style of Esala Perahera in Kandy is held every year in the Pethmaga temple (Ranaweera, 2015).

Image house
The image house of Pethmaga Viharaya is considered an archaeologically important monument. It preserves a collection of valuable sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan art tradition (Ranaweera, 2015). The murals have been drawn on plastered clay walls. The Jataka tales, the Suvisi Vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas) and the scenes of the life of the Buddha are found among the murals along with the images of Buddhist deities such as Visnu and Kataragama (Ranaweera, 2015). Above the entrance door is marked with the Buddhist year 2432 (1888 A.D.).

Pethmaga Viharaya Pethmaga 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) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.168-170.

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This page was last updated on 18 December 2023

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