The Dematamal Viharaya is located at Helagama on the Buttala-Okkampitiya road which leads to the Maligawila Buddha Statues. The temple lies about 4 km from the Buttala town.
Located in the middle of paddy field, you can see the dark coloured Stupa and the bo-tree surrounded by the green paddy from the road itself. Though much attention is not paid by the average tourist the history of the temple complex is said to date back to the 3rd century BC.
It is believed that this is the temple that prince Tissa hid from his brother prince Gamini (some times called Gemunu, later king Dutugemunu) after a major battle for power at the location now called Yudaganawa.
After the death of King Kavanthissa (2 nd Century BC), the two sons, price Gamini and prince Tissa had two major battles in the struggle for power. Legend says that the first battle at the Yudaganawa was won by Tissa.
But the second battle was won by Gamini and Tissa unable to flee far, hid inside this temple knowing the brother will never violate a Buddhist temple. Prince Gamini chasing after his brother realised he was inside the temple and asked chief incumbent Ven. Gonashanka Tissa thero whether his brother was inside the temple. The thero unable to lie refused to answer the prince.
The historic Rajavaliya (The tale of the Royal Dynasty) describes this battle :
Later the chief thero is said to have brought peace among the brothers who worked side by side thereafter.
The name of the temple "Dematamal" also has its own legends. One legend says this area was called Detu-mal meaning "I saw (found) the brother", which happened at the Viharaya. And later became Dematamal.
Another legend says that once peace was brought within the brothers, prince Tissa was in charge of the area and he cultivated the land and it was very rich in harvest. During this time Prince Gamini (now King Dutu Gemunu) was getting ready for the final battle with the South Indian invader King Elara who was ruling the Sri Lankan capital Anuradhapura, seeing the prosperity of the area King Dutu Gemunu said to his brother "Govithen kala ethi male". Meaning "We have done enough of farming now brother". Because of this statement this area was called Ethi-Male which with time became Dematamal.
In addition to the peaceful and serene location, the temple ruins include pillars, guardstone, stone steps, an image house and a series of meditation cells.
This guardstone (muragala) is a unique sculpture as this shows a couple in an intimate position and behind the head of the man is a number of Cobra Heads. Generally all guard stones depict a Naga king carrying a pot of plenty and a long floral arrangement in the other hand. Such Stone can be seen at any ancient temple in Anuradhapura or Pollonaruwa (see guardstones at Vatadage in Pollonnaruwa and Asokaramaya in Anuradhapura)
How to reach
You can reach the site from either Wellawaya or from Kataragama depending on which route you take.
You can reach Wellawaya in through many roads. If you are coming from Badulla or Bandarawela you must tale the Ella Road which lies between Badulla-Bandarawela Road. On the way you will also pass the beautiful Ravana Ella falls too on the way. There is a another road from Koslanda. Taking this road will take you through the 220 metre high waterfall Diyaluma. Koslanda lies between the Balangoda – Haputhale Road.
If you are coming from Kataragama, use the Buttala Road and the turn off is just before the Butala main junction. The temple is about 4 kms form the turn off from Buttala.
From Buttala any person can direct you to the temple. The road to the Maligawila Temple Complex is also along this load but you have travel about 15 km further down the same road.
July 22, 2007