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Home > Heritage > Lenawara Rajamaha Viharaya

Lenawara Rajamaha Viharaya

Lenewara rock cave housing the
shrine room

It was a beautiful Saturday morning. We decided to visit the Lenawara Rajamaha Viharaya situated just outside Horana Town. The road leading to Horana from Panadura is a pleasant drive and its rural atmosphere is in fact a pleasant surprise.

The Lenawara Ancient Temple is situated 5 kms along the Anguruwatota Road commencing from the Raigama Junction on the Panadura Horana Road.

The narrow Anguruwatota road was even more relaxing with its canopy of shade trees. The temple is situated on a slight incline and the branch road leading to it could be easily missed. And miss it is just what we did. Fortunately we stopped at a wayside tea boutique for a cup of tea and the mudalali gleefully informed us that we were far from our destination.

So we turned back and this time were mindful to ask as many people as we met on the road for directions to the Lenawara temple.

We parked our vehicle under a coconut tree adjoining the entrance to the temple. The Bo tree, shrine room and the dagoba are located on three different levels we were told..

The dagoba which is on the highest level has to be reached by a long flight of stone steps cut into a scenic environment.

The shrine room, which is housed in a rock cave, is on the middle level and has to be reached by climbing deep steps cut out of the natural rock face. The shrine room contains a large reclining Buddha image and a seated Buddha image and some paintings.

To a side and behind the shrine room, on a slight elevation, is a devala dedicated to God Vishnu. A rock pool in front and on the side is filled with water and reflects the clouds. The temple bell stands at the front edge of the rock overlooking the valley. The combined picture is perfect. The delicate architecture of the shrine room, painted yellow and projecting out of the sheer rock in this natural setting is delightful.

The cave housing the shrine of God Vishnu has a simple semi-circular arch like entrance with a small door fitted in its centre. The brilliant green grass growing like a well laid carpet in the foreground surprises and contrasts with the rest of the rugged rocky face and sets it off beautifully. Here is a charming picture too big and wide to be captured on your camera. After crossing a paved bridge and climbing another flight of steps assisted by iron hand rails one reaches the top level where the milky white dagoba stands.

The scenery from its height is spectacular. Stretches of coconut palms, other local trees and paddy fields in blended greens faded into far away blue mountains. The hill surrounding the dagoba is cultivated with rubber, and a woman was busy tapping the rubber trees.

Historically the Lenawara cave temple is associated with King. Parakramabahu VI during whose time it is believed to have been a flourishing viharaya. It is said that an inscription of the king found at Sunethradevi Pirivena at Pepiliyana records grants made to Lenawara Cave Viharaya at Raigama.

The temple is also famous for its traditional treatment of catarrh. According to local belief, a Brahmin scholar who came to the country during the days of King Devanampiyatissa, and took up residence close to this viharaya had handed down this ancient science. The treatment still continues to date.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror, September 5, 2005

Other Articles

Akerawita Lenawara Vihara: A historically important temple - Most intriguing was the entrance to a large tunnel, which it is said, runs underground for miles, even crossing the Kelani river. But the entrance to this tunnel, is blocked off with concrete . This we are told is because, the last people to explore the tunnel from this end never came back. -

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Updated February 3, 2007
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