A small Dagaba on the top of the rock heralds Maligathenna Rajamaha Viharaya, yet another monastic cave complex, build and donated to the Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition by King Devanampiyatissa nearly 2400 years ago.
Later the temple changed its original purpose and served as a fortress and a refuge to escaping kings and relics of Lord Buddha but today had returned to its original duty of providing shelter to monastic monks.
Many a great kings of Sri Lankan history including King Datusena and King Walagamba had added on to the glories of Maligathenna while the temple had also served as a refuge to the Danta Datu or the sacred right tooth of Lord Buddha twice during the times of political turmoil in Sri Lankan history.
Found on the Miriswatta-Waturugama Road the temple is similar to the Pillikuttuwa and Varana monastic cave complexes of its structure and origin and it is second to none in its beauty and serenity.
The caves are spread on different levels among the forest and each level could be reached through a stone stairway, the one leading to the top of the mountain been the most unique and celebrated. Some of the original meditation caves had been converted to shrine rooms during the time of King Walagamba with murals on the walls and on roof and an 18 feet reclining Buddha statue.
The ground level which is reached after a small and steady climb consist the temple and the majority of the caves are found on this level, the largest being the meditation hall. Another large cave had been converted into the main shrine room while stupa in the ground level had been built during the last century.
A steep and slim stone path better known as ‘Degaldoruwa’ leads to the top of the rock and is specially designed to discourage the traffic upwards. It had been designed during the time of King Walagmba, when the temple was been used as a refuge from invading South Indian armies.
However the bird eye view from the top and the peculiar pond on the rock over compensate the steep climb upwards and establishes Maligathenna as a worthy meditation centre as well as a fortress.