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Kundasale Raja Maha Viharaya

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This temple is situated 02 kilometers away from Warapitiya Junction on the Kandy-Teldeniya road.

The Historic Kingdom of Kundasale was situated approximately 04 miles north of Kandy on the banks of the Mahaweli River. Home of the royals in a bygone era, this town is hub of cultural and social significance even today, especially so because it is the area with the highest population within the Divisional Secretariat. In addition, key components such as Government offices, factories, the Agricultural Training Centre and the Open Air Prison Camp are centr ...

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This temple is situated 02 kilometers away from Warapitiya Junction on the Kandy-Teldeniya road.

The Historic Kingdom of Kundasale was situated approximately 04 miles north of Kandy on the banks of the Mahaweli River. Home of the royals in a bygone era, this town is hub of cultural and social significance even today, especially so because it is the area with the highest population within the Divisional Secretariat. In addition, key components such as Government offices, factories, the Agricultural Training Centre and the Open Air Prison Camp are centrally located in this area.

The Kundasale Raja Maha Viharaya is the most significant place of worship among the Buddhist temples built by ancient Kings to ensure furtherance of the Buddha Sasana. According to the Chief Incumbent Venerable Rambukwelle Seelarathana Thero, construction of the temple began during the reign of King Sri Veeraparakrama Narendrasinghe. Work was completed in 1754 AD by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe.

Built inside the Royal Gardens, there is a Makara Thorana (arched ornate gateway) here, and an image house below that with a Buddha statue in it.  The viharaya has been built in the form of a Mandapa (pavilion) resting on wooden pillars. Arched makara thorana gateways have been erected at the entrances of the aisle and the vault. In the early days of its construction the inner sanctum was decorated with frescoes, which have since been superimposed with more modern drawings. To some extent this has caused damage to the archaeological value of the drawings. The entrance of the Vihara geya has been tiled with Pethi Ulu (flat tiles).

In the temple, there is a thamba sannasa (dispatch engraved on copper plates) which is said to have been awarded by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe to Venerable Werasera Rambukwelle Dhammarakkhitha Thero, the Chief Incumbent during the King’s reign and held in high esteem by the King. According to the Sannasa the King, having inspected the Royal Gardens, had constructed an 11-cubit-long, 5-cubit-wide Prathima Ghar (image house) in front of the Mandapa, and donated valuable artifacts including a gold-plated Buddha statue made of red sandalwood, a relic casket made of white sandalwood, together with one day’s worth of material for religious rites to the temple.

In addition to donating this temple to Rambukwelle Anunayaka Thero and his generation of disciples, the King had also donated extra land to the temple and for the maintenance of monks engaged in various tasks at the temple. According to the Chief Incumbent the donation included mud land and high land totaling 18 Amunas (1 Amuna = 2 to 2.5 acres).

Architectural features of this temple show that the roof was made according to Udarata (up country) Arama construction plans. That is, buildings erected around a meda midula (central courtyard). However, recent renovations to the temple’s façade have masked the old architectural features. The layout of the temple today consists of the recently built Chaitya, the ancient Vihara Geya, the monks’ residence and the ancient Bodhi tree. It is said that there was a huge Peni Waraka (jackfruit) tree near this temple, the fruits of which were reserved for King Narendrasinghe’s consumption.

The upper floor of the monks’ residence resembles a museum with many ancient artifacts, as well as a library. To date, objects preserved here include the Kengalle Royal Elephant’s pair of tusks, a gold-plated sandalwood statue, the Piruwana Poth Wahanse (Holy book of Catubhanavara Pali), ancient garments and flags, a jacket worn by King Narendrasinghe, a few palanquins, and a very old bed. This priceless collection is well preserved under the care of the current incumbents of the temple. The Piruwana Poth Wahanse in the library is an extremely rare book written with very large fonts, by a novice monk known as Pahata Rata Parduwe Sumana. The monk, on a journey to Kandy for his Upasampada (higher ordination), gifted this volume to the then King, who in turn donated it to this temple. It is well-preserved and kept here to date.

King Narendrasinghe’s jacket preserved in this museum is a memento gifted by the King to Rambukwelle Thero, upon the monk’s request. The garment is very different from those usually worn in Ceylon in those times, and therefore believed to have been imported. Made of a kind of strong fabric, the brown-green jacket shows different glowing hues from different angles. A Government Agent known as ‘Codritain’ who was a Civil Servant in Ceylon had requested to buy this jacket for an exorbitant price. The then Chief Incumbent, however, had declined.

 As explained by the Chief Incumbent, the present Uda Maluwa of the temple used to be the site of the Royal Palace, and the area where the Pansala (temple) was known as Uyanwatte. The ground of the palace site has a higher elevation of 10-15 feet than that of the surrounding area. The Biso Maligawa (Queens’ residence) was sited towards the southwest of the palace, and there was a tunnel through which the king’s consorts could go to the river, according to folklore. There are many ancient Bo trees in the nearby area.


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