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Aluvihare Rock Temple

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Av. Vila Mar, s/n - Itaúna, Saquarema - RJ, 28990-000, Brazil

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Krishan
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Aluvihare Rock Temple in the late afternoon when the sunlight casts a serene glow over the ancient paintings; it's a sight few tourists get to witness. Additionally, chat with the resident monks for a personal tour – they sometimes share fascinating stories not found in guidebooks."

What is Aluvihare Rock Temple?

Aluvihare Rock Temple, also known as Alu Viharaya, is a sacred Buddhist temple complex located in the Matale District, just north of Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. Nestled at the base of Aluvihare rock, this revered site is not just an impressive visual spectacle but also an important cradle of Buddhist culture. It's where the Pali Canon, the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, was first written down, transforming it from an oral tradition into a carefully preserved written form.

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History of Aluvihare Rock Temple

The history of Aluvihare Rock Temple is deeply woven into the fabric of Sri Lankan Buddhism. According to the chronicles and my own recollection of what elders in the area often recount, the temple dates back to the 3rd century BC, around the time Buddhism first arrived on the island. However, it was during the reign of King Valagambahu in the 1st century BC that Aluvihare's most significant historical event occurred.

Amidst a time of turmoil and foreign invasions, the Buddhist monastic community chose Aluvihare to transcribe the oral teachings of the Buddha into written form, creating the Pali Canon, which became a cornerstone for Theravada Buddhism. These ancient texts, the Tripitaka, consist of three baskets - the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka, critical to Buddhist doctrine.

The temple complex itself has been damaged and rebuilt several times throughout history, most recently due to an attack in the late 20th century. Despite these setbacks, Aluvihare continues to stand as a testament to the resilience of the Buddhist faith and the dedication of those who strive to preserve it.

Why is Aluvihare Rock Temple Important?

Aluvihare Rock Temple holds immense significance both spiritually and historically. As a place where the oral teachings of Buddha were committed to writing, it represents a pivotal moment in the preservation of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. This was a monumental task, ensuring that the dhamma, or teachings, would endure through the ages in their most authentic form, less vulnerable to distortion that can come from oral transmission.

The temple is also important for its role in Sri Lankan culture, symbolizing a place of education, a refuge in times of crisis, and a bastion of spiritual heritage. In a broader sense, Aluvihare is a potent symbol of the island's enduring commitment to preserving its religious and cultural history, despite the multiple challenges it has faced over centuries. Can you imagine the countless generations of devotees who have walked these paths, seeking wisdom and solace?

Moreover, its architecture, murals, and statues offer a profound glimpse into the artistic traditions that flourished under the patronage of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The temple provides insights into the spiritual and artistic ingenuity of the past, with various details and symbols that tell tales of devotion, enlightenment, and the deep roots of the Dhamma in Sri Lankan soil.

Things to Do & See at Aluvihare Rock Temple

Visiting Aluvihare Rock Temple is a journey that engages both the soul and the senses. Start by exploring the series of rock caves that have been converted into shrine rooms. There, you will encounter stunning murals depicting stories from the Buddha's life, some of which date back centuries and reflect Buddhist cosmology and teachings on karma and rebirth. The vivid colors and artistic detail can be mesmerizing, so much that they often seem to come alive with devout history.

Climb the rock to reach the stupa at its summit for a panoramic view of the surrounding hills — a truly apt place for contemplation and reflection. Take a moment to soak in the tranquility and reflect on the natural beauty that has inspired spirituality for millennia.

Another draw is the collection of sacred relics, including a revered footprint believed to have been left by the Buddha himself. Engage with the monks who may share stories or teach you about their life and practices, and participate in a meditation session if the opportunity presents itself. Remember to explore the Dharmasala or 'Hall of Ola leaves,' where the sacred texts were written down, and if time permits, the Aluvihare Rock Temple Museum, which houses ancient manuscripts and artifacts.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the significance of the Aluvihare Rock Temple?

The Aluvihare Rock Temple, located near Kandy, is historically significant as the place where the Pali Canon was first written down in text on ola (palm) leaves. This event marked an important milestone in the preservation of Theravada Buddhist doctrine.

How do I get to Aluvihare Rock Temple?

Aluvihare Rock Temple is situated in Matale, close to Kandy. Visitors can take a bus or hire a taxi from Kandy to reach the temple. The trip typically takes around one hour.

What can I see at Aluvihare Rock Temple?

Visitors to Aluvihare Rock Temple can explore the rock caves housing Buddhist statues and murals that illustrate different events in the life of Buddha and the history of Buddhism. There is also a stupa and a museum containing ancient relics.

Is there an entrance fee for Aluvihare Rock Temple?

Yes, there is typically an entrance fee for tourists visiting Aluvihare Rock Temple. The fee helps in the maintenance and conservation of the temple. It is advisable to check the latest fee and opening hours before visiting.

Are there any festivals or special events at Aluvihare Rock Temple?

Aluvihare Rock Temple may host special events and religious ceremonies, particularly during significant Buddhist festivals such as Vesak Poya (Buddha Day) and Poson Poya (celebrating the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka). These occasions often include colorful decorations and various rituals.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Av. Vila Mar, s/n - Itaúna, Saquarema - RJ, 28990-000, Brazil

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps