Aluvihare Pahala Viharaya also known as Matale Alu Viharaya is a sacred Buddhist temple located in Matale District. Located on Matale-Dambulla Road, 30km North of Kandy, this temple is situated in a beautiful environment surrounded by mountains. The history of the Aluvihara rock temple dates back to the reign of King Devanampiyatissa from the 3rd century BC. The Aluvihare rock temple is the historical place where the Pali Canon was first written completely on the leaves of palm leaves. During the reign of King Walagamba, Buddhist monks wrote this Tripitaka. These Tripitakas originally came by word of mouth. The Tripitaka is divided into three parts. They are;
1) Vinaya Pitakaya (Basket of Discipline)
2) Sutta Pitakaya (Basket of Discourse) and
3) Abhidharma Pitakaya (Basket of Metaphysics).
At the entrance of the Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka is a solid Pandal with an arch constructed out of concrete. The first cave is about 25 feet long and 10 feet high. There are also seated, standing, and recumbent Buddha statues of terra-cotta, the frescoes are decorated with paintings of Jathaka stories. Kandyan period paintings are covering the cave ceilings. There is a library at Aluvihara Cave Temple in Sri Lanka. Buddhist statues comprise a gallery of antiquities made of clay, brass, and marble, some of which are gold plated. There are many valuable Buddha statues and other archaeological artifacts gifted by Siam, Cambodia, China, Japan, and Myanmar.
There are many folktales and beliefs associated with the name of the alu vihara. According to some, the word ‘Aloka Viharaya’ was later changed to ‘Aloka’ Pali word into the ancient Sinhala language as ‘Alu’ (light). This place was known as Vihara because it was the abode of Buddhist monks. So the two words combine to form the word ‘Aluvihara’. However, all opinions and beliefs conclude that the name of the temple is associated with light.