Udayagiriya Raja Maha Viharaya

ImageSituated few miles away from Uhana amid a blanket of lush green paddy fields is the Udayagiri Raja Maha Viharaya, its white washed stupa standing as a white beacon amidst the lush green.

Believed to be standing on a battle ground where the armies of the West fighting under King Parakramabahu the first met in a mortal battle with the armies of Queen Sugala, the ruler of the East and South Udayagiriya Raja Maha Viharaya had been a monastery which withstood the test of time.

Although most parts of the stupa had been lost to development the temple is surrounded by many monolith and other stone constructions, which speaks of an ancient construction covering the whole area.

A stone pillar carved with a Vatapatha or a fan used by the Bikkhus stands at the entrance of the temple with an inscription which announces that the temple land was relieved from taxes by two Generals of King Udaya the first, who ruled the country in the Tenth Century AC.

ImageHowever archeologists believe the temple to be of early origin. According to veteran archeologist and historian, Senerath Paranawithana the temple must have been a monastery and seat learning and worship by the tenth century, a shelter to meditating and scholar arhants to receive such sponsorship by two generals.

The perception is supported by the ruins of two ‘Asanagara’ or large stone seats found at site. ‘Asanagaraya’ was a symbol used in place of Buddha statue in the early era of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, in rumination of the seat taken by Lord Buddha during his preaching.  Today the remains of these seats are found near the old Bodhi Tree used as an offering stone for flowers.

Two stone balustrades or Korawakgal, remnants of n ancient building had been used in the construction of the new shrine room while parts of the old stupa too had been cleverly used in the new one.  An intricately carved stone lotus flower, which had been the base of a standing Buddha statue is still found atop a small rock crag although the statue had long been destroyed.

The eight feet tall monoliths standing in parallel rows are believed to be the remnants of a building, built in the early stages of the monastery as they are similar to the constructions of third to first BC, where pillars were less adorned and were simple and symmetrical monoliths.

The monastery is believed to have spread on a larger ground than it is today although no regular archeological investigation had been done on site.

According to prominent archeologist and Historian Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera the monastery had been a prominent monastery in the village of Uhana, which was then known as ‘Udhanagiri’. The Ven.Thera believes the monastery to have function from 3rd Century BC to the times as late as 10th century AC as a seat of learning and a meditation later giving into the jungle with the fall of the Eastern kingdom. 

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