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Wewurukannala Vihara temple – Dikwella

Description

Wewurukannala Vihara temple is located Fifteen miles east of Matara in Dikwella, one of the most impressive Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. An image of a seated Buddha dominates the Wewurukannala Vihara temple. It is 160ft high, a giant statue in Sri Lanka and dates back to King Rajadhi 1782 – 1798.
The temple has three sections, the most beloved being about 250 years old; but, this is of no particular interest.
The temple walls explain the path towards enlightenment by depicting hundreds of comic strip representations of Buddha’s life events. Amongst one of the chapters is the Chulla Dhammapala Jataka. It explains how King Maha Prathapa of Varanasi, on accessing the palace, found the queen holding her seven-month-old child. After neglecting him, the King was humiliated, so he ordered that the prince be executed, and the body was thrown into the air. Many Jataka Stories are also amid the paintings, which were chosen for Vesak stamps in 1991. One depicts The Kattahari Jataka, showing Prince Kastavahana, son of King Brahmadatta, relaxing with his entourage.

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The Three Parts of the Temple

The Wewurukannala Vihara temple comprises three distinct parts, each offering unique insights into Buddhist teachings and Sri Lankan history. While the oldest segment of the temple, with its approximate age of 250 years, may not pique specific interest, it sets the stage for the subsequent sections that hold captivating stories and vivid depictions.

Graphic Representations of Punishments

As you venture deeper into the temple, you will encounter life-size models portraying demons and sinners, illustrating the consequences of deviating from the path to enlightenment. These intricate and graphic representations leave a lasting impression, vividly depicting the punishments awaiting those who stray. From submerged in boiling cauldrons to being sawn in half or disembowelled, the vivid scenes serve as cautionary reminders of the importance of following Buddhist principles.

The Colossal Seated Buddha Statue

At the heart of the Wewurukannala Vihara temple's most awe-inspiring feature - the colossal seated Buddha statue. Comparable in height to an eight-storied building, this monumental figure exudes serenity and tranquillity, radiating a sense of spiritual presence that envelops the entire temple complex. As you stand before this magnificent work of art, a profound sense of reverence washes over you, immersing you in the teachings of Buddhism.

Comic Strip Narratives on the Temple Walls

The temple's walls serve as vibrant storytellers, adorned with hundreds of comic strip representations depicting significant events from the Buddha's life. Amidst these visual narratives, the Chulla Dhammapala Jataka episode stands out, recounting the tale of King Maha Prathapa of Varanasi. The story unfolds as the king enters the palace, only to find the queen cuddling her seven-month-old child. Ignored and insulted, the king orders the execution of the prince, followed by the tossing of his lifeless body into the air. Such stories offer moral lessons and serve as reflections on the impermanence and suffering inherent in life.

Jataka Stories in the Temple Paintings

Among the paintings adorning the temple walls, several depict other Jataka Stories, captivating tales that delve into the Buddha's previous lives. Notably, some of these paintings were chosen for Vesak stamps in 1991, further highlighting their significance and artistic merit. One such painting portrays The Kattahari Jataka, showcasing Prince Kastavahana, son of King Brahmadatta, as he rests alongside his entourage.

Exploring the Temple Museum

To delve deeper into the rich history and cultural significance of the Wewurukannala Vihara temple, a visit to its museum is highly recommended. The museum houses various artifacts of historical and artistic importance, offering a glimpse into the past. Of particular note is the grand clock, a true marvel crafted by a local artisan named W. Elaris De Silva from Maggona in 1926. Purchased by the temple's priest in 1928 for the sum of 3000 rupees, this mechanical masterpiece remains operational to this day. Encased within a protective glass cubicle, the clock's mechanism continues to keep time, chiming gracefully at the designated hours, enchanting all who witness its craftsmanship.

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