Pananwela Ganegoda Viharaya

Pananwela Ganegoda Viharaya

Ganegoda Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: පනන්වෙල ගණේගොඩ පුරාණ විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Pananwela village in Matara District, Sri Lanka.


Pananwela, the present name of the village is thought to have come into usage after the 14th century (Vanarathana, 1994). According to locals, this name evolved from the Panamata-gath-wela which means the paddyland bought for one Fanam (Vanarathana, 1994).

Pananwela Ganegoda Viharaya

Locals lonk the history of this temple to the reign of King Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.) of Anuradhapura (Ranaweera, 2015). It is said that a minister of that king established a Buddhist temple at this site (Ranaweera, 2015). 

The ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple have been discovered on the Viharaya premises (Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994). The present Stupa at the site is said to have been erected over the dilapidated Stupa mound of the ancient temple (Vanarathana, 1994). Several artefacts such as Buddha statues and stone caskets were recovered from the dome of that dilapidated Stupa and they are presently preserved on the temple premises (Vanarathana, 1994). Of them, the stone caskets are said to be similar to those discovered from Abhayagiriya Stupa in Anuradhapura and hence scholars have dated them as artefacts belonging to the early part of the Anuradhapura Period (Vanarathana, 1994). However, the Buddha statues show artistic features of the latter part of the Anuradhapura Period (Vanarathana, 1994).

Besides the Buddha statues, a stone slab containing a Siri Pathula has been unearthed from the site. The slab is 9 ft. in length and 4 ft. in width and the carved Siri Pathula within it is about 5 ft. in length  (Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994). In ancient times, people carved Siri Pathul Gal to represent Buddha and the presence of such Siri Pathul Gal in a temple is considered as evidence to prove that the temple existed there even before the Buddha statues were built in the country.

The Bodhi trees and the Image House

There are two Bodhi trees at the temple premises. One is known as Ananda Bodhiya while the other is known as Sri Maha Bodhiya (Ranaweera, 2015). The image house of this temple is considered rare as it is a two-story building. The main seated Buddha statue is placed on the second floor which can be reached through a wooden flight of steps.

Pananwela Ganegoda Viharaya


1) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.130-132.
2) Vanarathana, K., 1994. Matara Puravidyathmaka Ithihasaya (In Sinhala). ISBN: 955-9325-00-0. pp.203-205.


#) 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 15 January 2023

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