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Degalldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

55 Sirimalwatta - Amunugama - Madawala Rd, Sirimalwatta, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Krishan
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya late afternoon when the sunlight filters through the trees, creating a serene and almost ethereal atmosphere inside the temple cave. Also, local devotees often come to pray in the evenings, offering an authentic glimpse into the spiritual practices in Kandy."

What is Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya?

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a revered temple carved into a large rock located in the serene outskirts of Kandy, Sri Lanka. This Buddhist temple is renowned for its exquisite Kandyan-era murals, which date back to the 18th century. The cave temple is also a testament to the skilled craftsmanship and the rich cultural heritage of the Kandyan period. Due to its unique artistic and historical significance, Degaldoruwa has become a focal point of interest for both local worshippers and international visitors.

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History of Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

The origin of Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is deeply entwined with the history of the Kandyan Kingdom. Constructed during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, the temple had its beginnings in the late 18th century. As the story goes, the construction of the temple was prompted by the discovery of a beautiful rock formation by the King while on a hunting expedition.

What makes Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya particularly fascinating is that, unlike many other cave temples, it was built from scratch rather than being an enhancement of an existing natural cave. The temple was an ambitious project that involved excavating solid rock to form the cave and create a space for worship and religious frescoes. Furthermore, the site was expertly chosen for its seclusion and natural beauty, two attributes that still draw visitors today.

Its construction became a major artistic endeavor of the time, with the bringing together of the finest artists to create the ornate murals that cover the cave walls. These murals are celebrated for their vivid portrayal of Jataka tales (stories of the Buddha's previous lives) and are considered masterpieces of Sri Lankan temple art. In this sense, the temple serves as a kind of time capsule, preserving the ethos and aesthetic values of an era that was rich in cultural and religious fervor.

Why is Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya Important?

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya holds immense importance both spiritually and culturally. For centuries, it has functioned as a place of Buddhist worship and a site for meditation. Its isolated and tranquil setting also makes it an ideal retreat for those seeking solace and a deeper spiritual connection.

From a cultural perspective, the temple serves as an invaluable reservoir of Kandyan-era artwork. The murals within Degaldoruwa are prime examples of the Kandyan school of painting, noted for their elaborate detail, bright colors, and intricate designs. They depict not only religious narratives but also give insights into the social conditions, clothing, and lifestyles of the Kandyan period, providing a vivid pictorial history that precedes modern documentation.

Moreover, Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is important for the unique techniques used in creating the murals. The painters employed natural pigments made from local minerals and plants, a practice that is rare and much studied by enthusiasts of historical and religious art. For students of Buddhism and art alike, the temple provides a true glimpse into the rich tapestry of Sri Lankan Buddhist heritage.

Things to Do & See at Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

A visit to Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an encounter with history, art, and spirituality. First and foremost, viewing the murals is an absolute must. Each painting tells a story and captures an aspect of the Buddhist teachings, which I can help explain in detail with anecdotes and lesser-known facts about Kandyan artistry.

Observing religious practices is another integral part of the experience. The ambiance of the temple during times of worship can be quite moving, and participating—or respectfully observing—can be a profound experience. Additionally, meditation sessions are sometimes organized within the temple premises, offering a chance to engage with the peaceful environment on a deeper level.

Surrounding the temple, the peaceful and lush landscape of Kandy adds to the tranquility of the visit. The opportunity to enjoy a serene walk through the scenic surroundings before or after entering the temple cannot be missed. For those interested in the broader historical context, I can also share tales of the temple's construction and how it relates to the history of the Kandyan Kingdom. Be sure to bring a camera, as the picturesque location offers stunning photo opportunities, but be mindful of the temple etiquettes while capturing its beauty.

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Frequently asked questions

What is Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya?

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Kandy, known for its Kandyan era rock cave architecture and exquisite wall murals depicting scenes from the Jataka tales.

How old is Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya?

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya dates back to the 18th century, built during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe.

What are the unique features of Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya's murals?

The murals of Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya are celebrated for their artistic detail, rich colors, and the depiction of Buddhist lore, as well as traditional Sinhalese life and culture of the time.

Can visitors take photographs inside Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya?

Photography may be restricted inside Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya to preserve the integrity of the murals and the sacred nature of the site. It's advisable to check with temple authorities for their current photography policy.

What is the best time to visit Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya?

The best time to visit Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is during the daytime when the natural light enhances the visibility of the murals and the temple is open to visitors.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

55 Sirimalwatta - Amunugama - Madawala Rd, Sirimalwatta, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps