Kasagala Rajamaha Vihara

In the chain of the Ruhuna Pearls there is one that represents the highest historical and cultural interest for researchers of the heritage of ancient Lanka.
Kasagala Rajamaha Vihara which is belonged to the area of Angunakolapelessa is situated about 9.6 km away from Ranna Junction on Weeraketiya-Ranna road. This temple has been constructed in the era of Anuradhapura and ruled by various kings. The temple possesses a land area containing in extent about Five thousand acres. This name of the temple Kasagala was created due to drying robes of the monks on stones. Almost everywhere in the temple granite can be seen.

This temple have relationships to Tangalle temple, Kirivehera and Kahandawa Rajamaha Viharaya ancient temple which belong to Ruhunu Giruwapattu. Several importance evidences have been found in the process of archeological activities. All archeological purposes related to ancient statues and places are done by the Department of Archeology.

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Historical status of Kasagala Rajamaha Vihara
It is believed that beginning of Kasagala Rajamaha Vihara started with the planting sacred Bo tree Dethispalaruha with the direct sponsorship of King Devanam Piyatissa in the III century B.C. It is further mentioned that high spiritual Buddhist monks and Tooth Relics were placed in this temple. King Kavantissa has constructed several buildings there and later King Appula I and Vijayabahu I rehabilitated such buildings.
A gold Buddha Statue was presented to this temple by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe ( 1747 – 1780 A.D.) and during this period the Dalada Perahera had been continuously conducted. About one thousand acre land area was granted to this temple by the King as a Nindagama and this resulted in the temple being considered as a main temple or Raja Maha Viharaya. This temple located in the Giruwapattu East is considered the most Prominent temple amongst other temples in the area. The architect of the present renaissance of this temple is Ven.

Kasagala Paintings
Both sculptures and paintings of Southern artists of Kandyan Tradition which display unique artistic expressions are found inside the three part shrine of this temple. One can identify two styles of paintings here namely Southern style and transition style. Paintings in the access doorway represent the Lord Buddha’s character. These paintings belonging to the southern tradition reveal a lot about temple paintings when lines, colors and shapes of paintings are taken in to consideration. The paintings and Buddha Images seen in the Garbagruhaya and Guard Images, traditional picture decorations and paintings and Jataka Stories seen near access doorway and Pradakshinapathaya (space for worshiping) represent the southern style of Kandy Tradition. These paintings have been influenced by European Cultural traits and new art styles.

Outer wall which has been constructed so that sacred building complex is protected. The wall is 72 meters in length, and the width is 122 meters. Two gates are on the West and East. Stupa can be seen on north-east. Outer walls of this type are considered specific in the Buddhist architecture.

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In the site of this temple, there are two Stupas which enhance the historic and archeological value of Kasagala Temple. One of them is situated on a hilly place. Another Stupa is believed to have been constructed by King Saddhatissa, brother of King Dutugemunu.

Ancient sacred Bo tree
Constructing outer wall in order to protect the sacred Bo tree is a prominent feature in Buddhist architecture. The outer wall constructed with materials such as stones, bricks and lime plaster has a long history. Ancient rock pillars are believed to have been irected by King Devanam Piyatissa.

Ten step staircases have been built across the westwardly erected wall separating the shrine rooms and other buildings in the temple.

King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 ad – 1780) turned in to shrine the castle erected by royals in the historic premises set aside for military training purposes by King Dutugemunu (161 BC – 137 BC). Here lie Buddha Images, Guard Images disciple Images and paintings belonging to Kandiyan Tradition.

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Ancient document or symbols hand written on any surface can be identified as Aabhilekana. Writing these Abhilekana in Sri Lanka was started in the period of sixth century D.C. Mediums like surface of granite, clay, metal and Palmyra leaves had been used for this purpose. Based on the places and mediums of such Abhilekana they are categorized as epigraphs, cave letter, mountain letter, pillar letter, board letter, royal grants, metal extracts, talipots etc. Documents of this type found so far in archeological sites have been written in the languages of Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Arabic, Chinese and English. Much social, economic, political and cultural information could be identified through the study of epigraphs.

Epigraphs in Kasagala Temple
This letter which is belonged to the period of V-VI century is written in transitive Brahmi letters. Ancient Sinhala characters could be seen here. These epigraphs reveal that the person called Mani Aba is released from the state of slave.
The Inscription belonging to V-VI century is also written in Brahmi letters. The old Sinhala language script is found here. This inscription says that a person called Kahadalani was set free from Slavery.

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The temple of Kasagala Rajamaha Vihara, representing the high historical and artistic interest of the Ruhuna region, is recommended for visiting as an isolated excursion or in combination with visiting the rock temple in Mulkirigala, in the vicinity of Kasagala. The journey from the Lankarus residence as well as from the hotels of Kahandamodara or Rekawa is no more than 30 minutes.

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