Uda Peekwella Gangathilaka Viharaya

Gangathilaka Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated on the bank of Nilwala Ganga in Uda Peekwella. It is the ancient Uggal-bevula of Sandesha poems.
Uda Peekwella Viharaya
Uda Peekwella Viharaya

Gangathilaka Viharaya (Sinhala: උඩුපීක්වැල්ල ගංගාතිලක විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated on the southern bank of Nilwala Ganga River in Uda Peekwella village near Matara town in Matara District, Sri Lanka. The temple is the ancient shrine at Uggal-bevula that is mentioned in several Sandesha poems.


The name Peekwella is thought to have come into parlance by combining an English (Peek = mountain) and a Sinhala (Wella = coast) word together (Vanarathana, 1994). Uda Peekwella roughly means the village at the bottom of the mountain near the coast (Vanarathana, 1994). This mountain is mentioned in several Sinhala Sandesha poems such as Thisara (14th century), Mayura (14th century), Parevi (Kotte Period) and Kokila (Kotte Period) as Uggala-bevula (Ranaweera, 2015; Vanarathana, 1994). The 95th and 96th canto of the Mayura Sandeshaya records the Bodhi tree at Uggal-bevula shrine (Ranaweera, 2015).

Although the ancient shrine at Uggal-bevula was standing on the bank of the Nilwala Ganga River in the past, a road was constructed between the shrine and the river in 1832 by dividing the land into two (Vanarathana, 1994). After that, the devotees bought the adjacent land for 32 Pathaga from Wickremaratna Devapanne Mudali and donated it for a temple and that is today known as Uda Peekwella land (Vanarathana, 1994). The present Gangathilaka Viharaya is said to have been established on this land by Karathota Thera (Vanarathana, 1994). The nearby Pantharama Viharaya in Pahala Peekwella was established by Kadurupokune Suwanna Jothi Thera (Vanarathana, 1994).

It is believed that there was a tunnel running between the ancient Uggal-bevula shrine and the nearby sea (Ranaweera, 2015). An opening similar to a tunnel mouth can be seen on the cement-strengthen cliff of the present temple.

Uda Peekwella Viharaya
Uda Peekwella Viharaya
Uda Peekwella Viharaya
Uda Peekwella Viharaya

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1) Ranaweera, D. D., 2015. Matara Urumaya (in Sinhala). ISBN: 978-955-30-6285-7. S. Godage & Bros. pp.180-182.
2) Vanarathana, K., 1994. Matara Puravidyathmaka Ithihasaya (In Sinhala). ISBN: 955-9325-00-0. p.168.

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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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