Kotaweheragala Viharaya

 

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Linked to one of the prime births in the Sri Lankan history, the birth of King Dutugamunu, the whereabouts Kotaweheragala Viharaya, had remained a mystery to many a leading archeologists of present day.

The legend that surrounds the birth of King Dutugamunu relates a story of a novice monk, who lived in a temple called Kotapabbatha Vihara,  who was building a road to the ‘Akasa Chethiyta’ or  the stupa in the sky.

The monk had fallen gravely ill due to his exercise and was later transferred to ‘Seelapassaya Pirivena’, where at his death bed he was bade by the King of Rohana, Kawanthisa and his queen Maya to be born as their first son, after his demise.

However the mythical and supernatural form of this story had not prevented the archeologists from searching the fabled ‘Kotaweheragala’ temple with a Stupa built on a mountain peak and Kotaweheragala in Yalpotha, Lahugala is a leading contender  to be the fabled home of the novice monk, who was born again to save a nation.

Few miles from the Yalapotha village standing amidst the forest is the Kotaweheragala, a ruined temple with a derelict stupa stands on a rocky mountain. The stupa vandalized by treasure hunters is a pile of bricks today. Yet the bricks are identified to be of third to first century BC and are similar to bricks used in Shasthrawela and other temples found in the area.

The polished walls of the inner chambers of the stupa had been ripped open to access the golden caskets, which were stored inside. Although the treasure hunters were later apprehended and the golden casket was returned to the Anuradhapura Museum for safe keeping, it is a smaller relief compared to the greater damage done by the treasure hunters to the beautiful polished mirror like walls of the inner chambers.

Parallel to the stupa are the remains of two buildings, one assessed to be shrine room, consisting stone pillars of intricate beauty carved with utmost skill and similar to the ones found at Mayuru Prasada in Anuradhapura.

Despite glories of the construction the link between the mythical ‘Kotapabbatha Vihara’ and the ruins in Yalapotha is made through a small stone inscription found at the foot of the 150 steps long stairway leading to the stupa on the top of the rock. The inscription states that the rock stairway was made by a novice monk –‘wachigamakahi Therasa’ .

Is this the stairway built by the novice monk leading to the ‘Akasa chetiya’? Some archeologists believe so. The cave found at the feet of the rock mountain is of mammoth proportion and had been partitioned with walls adorned with murals.

A second shrine room and ruins of various building including alms halls and meeting halls are found scattered around the mountain, telling the story of a once prosperous monastery, which could have been the abode of the novice monk, who was born again to deliver a nation. 20-guard-stones

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