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Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya

The Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya is located on a rock along Galaha Road near the University Campus in Peradeniya. The history of the temple dates back to the 6th century. In the middle of the ruined temple paintings of the 6th century, paintings can be seen on the walls of the temples belonging to different periods of recent history. The cave shrine and monastery known as Hindagala Raja Maha Viharaya is situated in the Kandukarapahala Korale of Udapalatha Division of Kandy District.

On a clear day, the mountain offers a view of Adam’s Peak, so it was chosen in ancient times as the abode of meditative monks of pre-Christian times. An epigraphical record about 50m above the cave refers to the still existing Bodhi and Bodhigara, the latter in an advanced stage of dilapidation. The two rock inscriptions at this site date back to the 7th century A.D. The oldest inscription is from the 6th century A.D. Runs up to the construction of Bodhigara (Bodhi-house).

The other inscription is, unfortunately, fragmentary and is datable to the 7th century on palaeographical evidence, embodying the words ‘Vataka-Vahara’, indicating the ancient name of the monastery. On stylistic discipline, the ancient paintings above the present rock shrine, in historicity could be dated to the 7th century. One of the paintings portrays the Buddha residing at Indrasala cave, in Magadhadesa (north-eastern India) and god Indra (Sakra) visiting him and posing questions to him and the Buddha answering them to the satisfaction of Indra.

This Raja Maha Vihara is believed to have been built during the reign of King Walagamba. Legend has it that the hidden Tooth Relic had been buried in this temple for a day when it arrived in Kandy. This is a very valuable temple full of unique paintings belonging to the Kandy era. Also here are the two oldest paintings of the Supreme Buddha. Not only that, the feeling of climbing the high rocky plateau behind the temple is indescribable. There is an opinion that the name Hindagala was given to this temple because the rock here is in the shape of an elephant kneeling. The entrance to the temple is through a gate with a beautiful dragon pantheon.

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