Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya


This temple can be reached through Tissa- Kirinda road. This temple is found on the point of a rocky mountain, just next to the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Due to its position, this temple gives a magnificent view of dunes beach, the Indian ocean, Kirinda fishing harbour, and the rest.
King Kawanthissa built the Kirinda temple. Therefore, devotees who are on a pilgrimage to Ruhunu-Ktharagama, usually come to this place.
Kirinda temple can be easily spotted from a distance due to the recently constructed standing Buddha statue. In addition, a large parking area is provided so you can park your vehicle without much hassle.
It would assist if you climbed up to reach the temple premises. We can use either recently paved stairways, or their steps caved on the rock bed, used in the old days.

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More than 2000 years ago, there reigned over the western part of Ceylon, a king called Devanampiyatissa. As Kelaniya was his capital, he was also called Kelani Tissa. It so happened that this king thought he had good reason to suspect a monk of the temple of helping an intrigue between the queen and his brother, accordingly losing control over himself, he gave orders that the go-between be put to a painful death by immersion in a cauldron of boiling oil.

The ministers of state were horrified; the subjects of the realm were terror stricken. What was more, it appeared as if even the gods were annoyed. By way of punishment, they caused the ocean to flood the land – and tradition holds that roughly a fifteen-mile swathe of coastline (a yodun) in the king's realm was washed away.

The Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya holds a significant place in the history of Ceylon, dating back over 2000 years. This ancient temple is associated with a legend involving King Devanampiyatissa, who reigned over the western part of Ceylon with Kelaniya as his capital. The story revolves around a sacrilegious act committed by the king and the subsequent divine punishment that led to the establishment of the Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya.

King Devanampiyatissa's Sacrilegious Act

King Devanampiyatissa, also known as Kelani Tissa, suspected a monk of the temple of being involved in an intrigue between the queen and his brother. Driven by anger and suspicion, the king ordered the go-between to be put to a painful death by immersion in a cauldron of boiling oil. This act horrified his ministers and struck terror in the hearts of his subjects.

Divine Punishment and King's Penitence

The gods, seemingly angered by the king's sacrilegious act, punished the land by causing the ocean to flood a significant stretch of the coastline in the king's realm. Witnessing the devastation caused by this divine punishment, King Devanampiyatissa was overwhelmed with remorse and sought a way to atone for his sins and appease the gods.

The Boat of Gold and Princess Vihara Maha Devi

As a sacrifice and a symbol of repentance, King Devanampiyatissa constructed a boat made entirely of gold. In this boat, he placed his eldest daughter, Princess Vihara Maha Devi. The boat was equipped with enough food and water to sustain the princess for a month. To ensure everyone knew the boat carried a king's daughter, an inscription was prominently displayed.

The Arrival at Kirinda

After many days adrift at sea, the boat washed ashore near Kirinda's Dovera. A fisherman exploring the coastline discovered this strange vessel and immediately reported it to King Kavantissa of Rohana. King Kavantissa, upon learning about the boat and its precious cargo, decided to marry Princess Vihara Maha Devi and named her his queen. In gratitude for the safe arrival of the princess, a dagoba was erected on the cliff.

Ancient Monuments and Sites

Several sites and monuments are believed to be associated with the story of Princess Vihara Maha Devi and King Kavantissa. At Gotimbaragodaella, approximately 2 miles inland from Kirinda, the ruins of a palace are said to mark the place where the marriage between the princess and the king was officially celebrated. In the Ruhuna National Park near Palatupana, ancient monuments known as Magul Maha Vihara are believed to have been the couple's residence after their marriage.

However, it is important to note that these monuments and sites are the subject of debate among archaeologists and historians, with varying opinions regarding their authenticity and historical significance.

The Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya

The present-day Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya features modern constructions within its premises. However, it holds two ancient rock inscriptions that provide insight into the political and religious history of the region. The major inscription, carved on a granite rock surface facing east, bears a significant political message from the first century CE. It speaks of a sub-king named Naga who abandoned his false beliefs and took refuge in the teachings of Buddha.

The Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya stands as a testament to the rich historical and cultural heritage of Ceylon. The legend surrounding this ancient temple, intertwined with the tale of Princess Vihara Maha Devi and King Kavantissa, captivates visitors with its romantic and mythical elements. By exploring the temple and its surroundings, visitors can immerse themselves in the fascinating history of Ceylon and witness the remnants of a bygone era.


  1. What is the best time to visit Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya?
    • The temple can be visited throughout the year, but it is recommended to avoid the monsoon season for a more pleasant experience.
  2. Are there any accommodation options near the temple?
    • Yes, there are various accommodation options available in the vicinity of Kirinda, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts.
  3. Can I take photographs inside the temple?
    • Yes, photography is usually allowed inside the temple premises. However, it is advisable to check with the temple authorities for any specific rules or restrictions.
  4. Are there any rituals or ceremonies held at the temple?
    • The temple regularly conducts religious rituals and ceremonies, especially during auspicious occasions and festivals. Visitors may have the opportunity to witness these rituals and immerse themselves in the spiritual atmosphere.
  5. Is there an entrance fee to visit the Kirinda Rajamaha Viharaya?
    • The temple does not usually charge an entrance fee. However, donations for the maintenance and upkeep of the temple are always appreciated.



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