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Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya

Considered to be a hallowed place visited by the Lord Buddha, during his third visit to the country, the Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is fabled in religious text and ancient folklore. Perched high in the central highlands of Badulla, the Muthiyanagana Raja Maha Viharaya tells the traveller of how the enlightened Lord Buddha arrived to preach the peaceful word of Buddhism. Coupled with intriguing features of architecture and art, the Muthiyanagana Raja Maha Viaharaya is an idyllic location for the history enthusiast.

Best Known For

  • The historical Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya in Badulla is famed for being a ‘Solosmasthana’ (16 sacred places the Lord Buddha visited, while on his visits to Sri Lanka) and is well documented with the murals and paintings in the image houses that still exist today.
  • The temple is also known for its more ancient history that goes back to the 18th Century BC, as it is believed to have been a major battle ground between an Indian king and Sri Lankan king, as documented by the epic ‘Ramayana’.

Interesting Facts

  • The Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is believed to have its beginnings in the 19th – 18th Century BC, according to the epic ‘Ramayana’.
  • According to the epic, Badulla and the complex where the current temple stands was a major battle ground between the warring kings, Rama of India and Ravana of Sri Lanka.
  • Further, it is said that the area in which the temple resides is the place where Ravana finally lost and was succeeded by his brother ‘Vibishana’, who conspired against Ravana.
  • Fast forward to the 5th Century BC when Sri Lanka embraced Buddhism as a major religion of the island and the result of Lord Buddha’s 3rd visit to Sri Lanka made the place a blessed one.
  • Bringing along 500 Arahats, the Buddha preached in the place where the current temple resides, which subsequently led to King Indaka enshrining the Buddha’s hair in the stupa that still exists today.
  • Initially, just a small temple, the temple has undergone a number of improvements and refurbishments throughout its 2500 year history by a myriad of kings that ruled the island.
  • Presently, the highlighting features of the temple is the intricately crafted entrance ‘Thorana’, the ‘Makara Thorana’ (the dragon arch), the image houses, the stupa and the Bo trees (fig trees).
  • Each highlight possesses a unique story, as many of them were built in varying periods, when a number of power shifts occurred in the island, making it all the more intriguing for the history buff.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The Buddhist temple in Badulla is open from dawn to dusk, however, the ideal time to visit the place of worship is during the early morning or late afternoon, as it is possible to explore the entire temple with ease.
  • Do keep in mind that this is a sacred place of worship, therefore it is imperative that you dress accordingly and adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the relevant authorities.
  • Refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic to the area.
  • Taking pictures of the temple are limited only to the exterior, as the artifacts within the temple are deemed too sensitive to photography, especially with a flash. It is best to inquire beforehand from the temple authorities.

There is more to Badulla than serene mountains and lush greenery, as seen by the Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya. Boasting of ancient history that predates even the arrival of Lord Buddha, it will intrigue many who explore the temple.

Title image by: Kimaya Wickrama-Adittiya

Type

Culture and Heritage

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