Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya

Sabarale Sri Niwasarama Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple in Ihala-Vitiyala. The construction of the temple was begun in 1806 and finished by 1815.
Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya
Figure 1: The image house and the Stupa at Niwasarama Purana Viharaya

Sabarale Sri Niwasarama Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: සබරලේ ශ්‍රී නිවාසාරාම පුරාණ විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple in Ihala-Vitiyala in Matara District, Sri Lanka. It is situated on the Kadduwa-Kamburupitiya road about 3 km distance from the Kamburupitiya clock tower. The temple is maintained under the lineage of the monks of Wehelle Dhammadinna Thera (Ranaweera, 2015).


The construction of the Sabarale Niwasarama temple was begun in 1806 and finished by around 1815 (Ranaweera, 2015). Athuruliye Keerti Sri Sumangala Thera pioneered the establishment of this temple (Ranaweera, 2015). A Sannasa that is preserved in the temple reveals that Sumangala Thera was given the judicial authority to resolve disputes by Colin Campbell (1776-1847 A.D.), the 8th Governor of British Ceylon from 1841 to 1847 (Ranaweera, 2015). Sumangala Thera is said to have resolved disputes from the place where the present Maha Mantindaramaya is located (Ranaweera, 2015).

The Pohoya Geya (or the chapter house) is considered one of the old monuments at this temple, built in the Buddhist year 2459 [(1915 A.D.) Ranaweera, 2015].

Image House

Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya

The image house of Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya is believed to be the oldest monument of the temple (Ranaweera, 2015). It preserves a some valuable sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan art tradition (Ranaweera, 2015). According to locals, this image house was originally built as a Tempita Viharaya, a building balanced on short stumps of stones (Ranaweera, 2015). However, some of the original features of the building including the sculptures and murals have been altered due to renovations carried out later.

The image house consists of two sections; the outer chamber and the inner chamber. The main seated Buddha statue is placed in the inner chamber and it is flanked on either side by two standing Buddha statues. 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 sculptured and drawn on the outer walls of the inner chamber (Ranaweera, 2015). The inner walls of the outer chamber have been adorned with the figures of devils named Ghora, Avaghora, Siva Vatuka and Vatuka (Ranaweera, 2015). These figures are compared by some with the paintings found in Ratnapura Maha Saman Devalaya (Ranaweera, 2015).

A Protected Site

The chapter house in Sri Niwasarama Ancient Vihara of Sabarale and the premises in the extent of 5m around the same in four directions situated in Ihala Vitiyala North village in the Grama Niladhari Division of Ihala Vitiyala North in Kamburupitiya Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 June 2023.

Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya Sabarale Niwasarama Viharaya


1) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.216-220.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Extraordinary. No: 2334/41. 1 June 2023. p.3A.


#) 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.

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This page was last updated on 19 December 2023

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