Built nearly 2000 years ago to celebrate the landing of Queen Vihara Maha Devi, the wife of King Kawantissa, the ruler of Rohana and the mother of King Dutugamunu, the hero of Mahavansa Chronicle, Muhudu Maha Viharaya or the Temple by the Sea’ is just a stone throw away from the Pothuvil Town.
Although the archeological evidence holds the temple to have been built in the fifth century AC by King Mahanama, the legend holds that the temple also known as the Samudra Maha Vihara, is to be the place where the storm tossed Princess Devi landed in the Ruhuna Kingdom. According to a stone inscription that was found in the vicinity of the shrine, it had also been called the Ruhunu Maha Viharaya in the days gone by.
The historical facts are heavily clouded with myths and legends. The story based on the arrival of Princess Devi claims that she was first spotted at a village near Pottuvil but when the king arrived at the spot the craft carrying the princess had drifted to the ocean and the disappointed king questioned the villagers ‘Ko Kumari?’ which eventually gave the village its name ‘Komari’. Later the princess had touched land at Arugam Bay and the villagers told King Kawantissa that the princess had landed at ‘Ara Gama’ which later changed into ‘Arugam’.
The temple site which is under the heavy threat of encroachment by villagers has been reduced to a small shrine with three granite statues. The central statue is of the Buddha with two more sculptures believed to be those of royalty facing it. Believed to have been built in the 5th century A.D during the reign of King Dhathusena, many believe the royal figures depicted in worshiping position are to be those of King Kavantissa and his Queen Vihara Maha Devi.
The great stretch of beach behind the temple is yet to be excavated and is believe to hold many hidden artifacts swept under the sands of times.