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Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya – Badulla

Description

Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya lies amidst the city of Badulla. Muthiyangayana Chethiya is the seventh of the sixteen sacred places in Sri Lanka.
At the invitation of Naga King Maniakkika, Lord Buddha has visited the island for the third time along with 500 other thero to Kelaniya. On the same visit, Buddha has also come to Badulla, accepting the invitation of King Indika, who was the ruler of Namunukula mountain Range at the time. The king has built a stupa enshrining some hair and mukthaka Dathu (drops of sweat turned into pearls) of Buddha on the location where Buddha made his sermons in the Badulla district. This stupa and the temple has been developed, reconstructed and renovated by many kings throughout the next 2500 years. Accordingly, in the 3rd century B.C, King Devanampiyathissa has enshrined "Sarwachna Dathun" and rebuilt the Muthiyangana Stupa. Likewise, King Jettathissa has expanded the stupa during his reign. It is also written in several historic encryptions that King Rajasinghe the second has renovated the temple, which had been destroyed due to attacks from enemies.
You will come across a 'Thorana' at the door to the temple, which has a unique perspective with six levels. You will come across the main image house as you enter the temple. At The entry is a colourful 'Makara Thorana'. And right above the door and below the dragon head is a figure of Maithee Bodhisattva. Crossing the image house, you come to the perfect structure of the temple, the stupa. Back in the main image, the house is another image house identified as the centre image house (Mada Vihara Ge).

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As the capital of Emperor Rawana, Badulla played a crucial role in ancient Sri Lankan history. The area surrounding Badulla, particularly the Uva Province, has a rich past dating back to the 19th-18th century BCE. It is believed that the great war between Rama and Rawana, as described in the epic Ramayana, occurred in this region. Several places and names, such as Seetha Eliya, Seetha Kotuwa, and Rawana Ella, are associated with Rawana's reign, further solidifying Badulla's historical significance.

The legends surrounding Emperor Rawana are intertwined with the history of Badulla. According to mythological accounts, Rawana ruled the country from Badulla as his capital. However, he eventually lost the war against Rama, and his defector brother Vibishana took the capital to Kelaniya. The Uva Province gradually faded into obscurity until the 5th century.

During the Buddha's third visit to the island, he visited Badulla on the invitation of King Indaka, the ruler of the Namunukula Mountain Range. The king, now elevated to the status of a deity, constructed a stupa to enshrine some of the Buddha's hair and Mukthaka Dathu (drops of sweat turned into pearls). This marked the birth of the Muthiyanganaya Stupa, which has since been expanded, reconstructed, and renovated by many kings who recognized its spiritual significance.

The temple complex features a unique Thorana, or entrance arch, with a six-level design. The first level serves as the main entrance, while the second level showcases a distinctive Makara (dragon) head. Guard figures and lion figures adorn the sides and corners, respectively. The third level features Vamana figures and other animal depictions, potentially influenced by Hinduism. At the centre of the third level stands a high stand with two decorated bulls, symbolizing Hindu elements. The fifth level is dedicated to a seated Buddha statue, while the sixth level is adorned with peacocks, completing the intricate structure.

Passing through the Image House, visitors arrive at the holiest structure of the temple: the Stupa that houses the Buddha's relics. Initially built by Deity Indaka in the 5th century BCE, the Stupa was later enlarged by King Devanampiyatissa of the Anuradhapura Era. The temple complex also includes statues of Deity Indaka and Maitre Bodhisattva, further enriching visitors' religious and cultural experience.

Apart from the historical and architectural wonders, Muthiyanganaya Raja Maha Viharaya offers several attractions for visitors. The Thorana, a captivating entrance arch, stands as a symbol of the temple's grandeur. The Makara Thorana, located at the entrance of the main image house, adds to the visual splendour of the temple.

The temple complex comprises two image houses: the main image house and the center image house. Although their ancient appearance has faded due to renovations in the 1960s and 1970s, they still hold immense historical and religious significance.

The central attraction of the temple is undoubtedly the Stupa, which stands tall with a height of 65 feet and a diameter of 270 feet. Its imposing presence and the relics enshrined make it a site of great reverence.

The temple also has four Bo trees (Bodhi) with significant connections to important figures. One tree is named after Maliyadeva Thera, who is believed to be the last disciple who attained the state of Arhant in Sri Lanka. Another tree, Ananda Bodiya, was brought from the Jetavana Monastery in Sravasti, India, where a Bo tree with the same name still exists. Additionally, a tree believed to have originated from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and planted by King Devanampiyatissa also stands within the temple grounds.

Each year, Muthiyanganaya Raja Maha Viharaya hosts a grand procession known as the Perahera. This colourful and vibrant event attracts numerous visitors who witness the religious and cultural festivities associated with the temple.

In conclusion, Muthiyanganaya Raja Maha Viharaya stands as a testament to Badulla's rich historical and cultural heritage. Its connections to Emperor Rawana, the Buddha's visit, and the subsequent establishment and expansion of the temple complex offer a unique blend of mythology, spirituality, and architectural brilliance. Visiting this sacred site immerses one in the rich tapestry of Sri Lanka's ancient past.

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