Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya Pallebedda

Ancient script written by venerable Karathota Dharmarama
Ancient script written by venerable Karathota Dharmarama

Sri Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya is a famous cave temple near Pallebedda. It is situated near the Ratnapura-Hambanthota main road and easily accessible via vehicles. It is a relatively large temple with many caves. You can see paintings inside the temple, some beautifully carved moonstones belonging to the Anuradhapura era, a dagoba and a Bo tree inside the complex. Being a old temple there is a lot of history attached to the place and in this article I will discuss about the history of the Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya, things to see inside the temple and upload some pictures of the place.

History of Sankapala Viharaya

Sri Sankapala viharaya has a very colorful history filled with various incidents. Brahmin inscription found in the caves prove that there was a temple here for a very long time. But the reason the temple became famous is because one of the ten giants of king Dutugamunu, Pussadeva resided here after becoming a monk. Pussadeva was one of the finest archer in the army and he was very proficient in blowing the conch shell as well. The conch shell is often used as identifier for Pussadeva and it is found here in the Sankapala temple as well. According to folklore the conch shell he blew in the final battle between king Elara and Dutugamunu is hidden in one of the caves.

During the Kandy era venerable Karathota Dharmara resurrected the temple. However he was imprisoned by the king on suspicion of helping the Dutch. While in prison he wrote the famous verse book 'Bharasa Kavya Gharbha Chakraya'. It took many scholars to comprehend the meaning of the book and when it was finally understood the king was very pleased. King not only released the monk but granted the village of Pallebadda to the temple as well.

Map of Sri Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya

A markerSri Sankapala Rajamaha Viharaya -
Pallebedda, Sri Lanka
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Sri Sankapala Rajamaha viharaya in Palledbedda, Sri Lanka

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