Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya


The Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya in Pilikuththuwa, Sri Lanka, is a historically significant and fascinating ancient Buddhist cave temple. This archaeological site, with evidence of human habitation dating back to prehistoric times, encompasses many features and artifacts that reflect its rich history and cultural significance.

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Here are some key aspects of the Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya:

Cave Complex and Rock Caves: The temple includes 99 rock caves with drip ledges spread over 200 acres. Out of these, 78 caves have been identified, showcasing the extensive nature of this religious site.

Historical and Legendary Significance: According to local folklore, King Vattagamini Abhaya, also known as Valagamba, took refuge in this temple and its surrounding dense forest during turbulent times around 1 BC. He is said to have regained power and returned to rule in Anuradhapura.

Inscriptions and Artifacts: The site contains four inscriptions dating back to 3-1 BC, offering valuable insights into its historical context.

Prathimaghara and Buddhist Art: The main Buddhist temple, Prathimaghara, is renowned for its unique painting art from the Kandy era. It houses Buddha statues of clay, natural colours, and images of deities like Upulvan (Vishnu) and Natha Deva. It's notable for its Bhikkhuni paintings, unique to this temple in Lakdiwa (Sri Lanka).

Portuguese and Dutch Influences: The architecture and design of the Pratimagra of the Kandy era reflect influences from Portuguese guards and Dutch inspiration, a testament to the region's historical interactions with European powers.

Stupa and Stone Structures: A stupa, built from clay in an ancient quarry during the Kandy era, and natural round house-like stone structures are among the architectural highlights.

Natural Beauty and Biodiversity: The temple is surrounded by natural beauty, including rare plants and pus vines, contributing to its recognition as a world heritage site. The Balumgala rocky area is known for its strategic significance and natural traps.

Historical Bridges and Water Sources: The temple grounds feature Sri Lanka's second wooden bridge from the Kandy period, an ancient large pond, lakes, natural tunnels, and canals.

Dharma Hall and Bell Tower: The Dharma Hall, constructed about a century ago with well-polished black stone, and the stone-carved dharma mandapa and dharmasana add to the site's archaeological value. The bell tower, also made of black stone, is a significant feature.

The Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a testament to Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage, blending historical significance, religious importance, and natural beauty. Its preservation and recognition as an archaeological site by the Sri Lankan government highlight its significance in the cultural and historical tapestry of the country.



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