Kahandawa Raja Maha Viharaya (Ranna)

Not to be confused with Kahandawa Purana Viharaya (Ranna)

Kahandawa Dhammadinna Cave Temple

Kahandawa Sri Dhammadinna Viharaya, also known as Kahandawa Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: රන්න කහඳාව ධම්මදින්න රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated on a small hillock on the wayside of Ranna-Rekawa road in Ranna village in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.


The rock inscriptions within the temple premises bring back the history of this site to the Anuradhapura Period or to the 2nd century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004). A Later Brahmi rock inscription in the Old Sinhala language belonging to the period 2nd-3rd century A.D. reveals some information on the renovation of the cube (Hathares Kotuwa) of a Stupa. Also, another rock inscription belonging to the same period records about a person named Mahanaga.

Kahandawa Rajamaha Vihara Rock Inscription

Kahandawa Rajamaha Vihara Rock Inscription

Period: 2nd-3rd century A.D.
Script: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Content: A possession of a persona named Mahanaga and his caste is mentioned. A flight of steps and a worn representation of a Stupa are included in the record.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology.

As found in the records of Leonard Woolf (1880-1969 A.D.), the Kahandawa area was populated in the 20th century (Abeyawardana, 2004). According to folklore, the name Kahandawa is derived from a Kaha-Anda (yellow eel) who came there to protect the treasure of the temple (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A Protected Site

The ancient Dagoba (Stupa) and the three rock stone inscriptions within the precincts of Kahandagala (Kahandawa) Sri Dhammadinna Vihara situated within the Grama Niladhari Division of Ranna in the Tangalle Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Kahandawa Dhammadinna Cave Temple Kahandawa Dhammadinna Cave Temple


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.116.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.523.


#) 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.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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