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TEMPLE ENROUTE TO KANDY
 

Not far away from Colombo is a little known but priceless cultural heritage of Undiscovered Sri Lanka. It is found at a len vihara called Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Vihara, atop a mountain frontier. It is off Yakkala on the Colombo-Kandy road, about 30 miles from Colombo and can be visited as a stop during your journey from Colombo to Kandy. The len vihara lies in the upper maluwa (higher terrace), just going past the two giant Bodhiyas looming over the premises.

 

In ancient time of royal rule in ancient Ceylon, the rock cave shelters cloistered in the recess of the forests served to house the recluse Buddhist monks in performing their meditation chores and other religious observances. Such cave hermitages were patronised by the ruling kings of the time. As the years passed, such cave shelters turned into len viharas (cave temples) and len avasas (abodes of Buddhist monks). Such len (cave shelters), were gifted by the kings, queens, and other nobles of the royalty. Foremost among such noble chieftains were the paramukas (chieftain of royal rank holding multiple designations).

 

On the apex of those rock cave shelters were carved drip-ledges for preventing rain water from falling into the interior of the cave abode. Below such drip ledges bore the etched stone inscriptions mostly of Brahmi scripts. In them are mentioned the names of the donors with their titles and the names of kings and queens. The name of paramuka stands gloriously carved on them, denoting the donors’ designations. The ancient concept of cultural values had been symbolic of the tank (weva), dagaba and rice field (ketha). Such features are well portrayed in the innumerable archaeological relics found in the nooks and corners around Raja Rata, Maya Rata, Pihitirata, Ruhuna Rata and even extending to the medieval kingdom of Sitawake.

 

The Portuguese, during their invasion into this area in the 16th century disfigured some of those mural paintings and on the entrance doorway to the image house of the len vihara. They disfigured the paintings on the doorway depicting a doratupala. This doratupala figure is daubed and replaced by a Portuguese soldier armed with a sword stands. Some of the Vessanthara Raja’s mural paintings are also disfigured. The doratupala is the divine guardian of a doorway.

 

Another striking but spectacular part of the paintings lie on the rock cave’s ceiling. Here the paintings are well portrayed having the signs of the 12 lagnas of the astrological chart, with their symbols well featured. On the cave roof ceiling if the image house are paintings of the lotus flower in full bloom and its tendrils winding around have been artistically executed.

 

Inside it (in the upper maluwa—terrace) lies a Buddha statue in reclining pose, a Sammadhi Buddha statue and another standing Buddha statue. The temple chronicles have recorded that the paintings on the mural and rock cave ceilings were later touched up.

 

Out of the 99 rock cave hermitages harbouring a top Pilukuththuwa, 84 of them had been identified by the Department of Archaeology, in the recent past.

 

This whole region is encompassed by a sea of forest studded mountains interlaced with coconut woods, while the lush valleys and dales below are studded with sprawling rice fields. Among such prominent hills are Warana, Hewakanda, Belungala and Maligatenna. The time honoured purana villages that gave support towards the progress of this Pulukunawa Raja Maha Viharaya are still existing. Among them are Kinigama, Buthpitiya, Maligatenna, Malwathuhiripi-tiya, Waturagama and Radwatta.



 

 
     
     
     
                               
                                                                                             
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Also see www.culturaltriangle.com www.srilankahotelsguide.com www.galledutchfort.com www.yalasafari.com , www.undiscoveredsrilanka.com www.kandyanhotels.com