Budulena Rajamaha Viharaya
On the road stretch between Ratnapura and Balangoda somewhere in Lellopitiya a sign board on your left hand side will point the turn off to the Budulena Rajamaha Viharaya.
The temple is perched at the top of a mountain, surrounded by mountains. The estate road hugging the sides of the mountain curved and curled ascending higher and higher towards it.
On one side, the land dropped deep into terraced paddy fields and sometimes sloped into boulder ridden rubber or tranquil green tea plantations. As we ascended higher, the depth of the valley grew, while over it all rose distant mountains, swathed in mist and mystery.
We passed a muster shed, a tea factory and the bungalows of the planters and the line rooms of their workers. Many times we stopped to inquire as to the whereabouts of the temple from passers by.
The road becomes increasingly tedious and if you decide to travel by vehicle right up to the temple; even punishing. The freshly cut road through the rubber and tea plantations of Lellopitiya exposed jutting rocks and gaping ruts. It is definitely not for a car, but a jeep may survive the trip even though many times I held my breadth as we jolted, sometimes merely on two wheels and at precarious angles. There is however a shorter cut, half way on route by way of a steep foot climb which may be a better option.
Closer to the temple the road is at its worst, and at one point we decided to park our vehicle and walk the rest of the way towards our destination.
Behind us rose sheer mountains. On another side, the cliff fell into a narrow valley and then rose again in its entire splendor to unite with the rest of the mountains. It was evening now, and the setting sun splashing lavish luminous patches in an otherwise darkening green-scape. The temple buildings stretched comfortably under huge shade trees. From the heavily wooded environs rose a boulder wherein the cave housed the temple shrine room.
The shrine room was decorated with paintings and images of the Lord Buddha and the Gods. Unfortunately a glass screen placed to protect the antiquity of the shrine room made it impossible to appreciate it. A smaller cave on the side adjoining the main cave was empty and had been used previously as a dwelling by an esteemed monk.
A third cave was sealed with a decorative Makara Thorana and said to enclose a legendary and secret tunnel. This cave temple had been known as Bujaslena in the past. Scholars attribute the present shrine room to King Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1780 – 1793 AD).
The podi hamuduruwo who showed us around told us of the mysterious cobra that lived in the cave. He recalled how one day, when he opened the door of the shrine room, the cobra had simply gone its way, without causing him any harm.
A small dagoba is built in front of the shrine. The rock face of the boulder over the caves had been decorated by clusters of statues depicting the Buddhist Jatekas and events from history. These were of a more recent vintage.
The Podi Hamuduruwo also pointed out to the alluring view of the mountain of Sri Pade that lies directly in front of the caves, over the vast wooded valley. Unfortunately, the evening mists made it impossible to sight the peak of the mountain, which we were told was an inspiring sight.
“Some people believe this Bujulena cave could also be the highly disputed Diwa guha or Bhagawa lena, associated with the cave where the Lord Buddha rested on his visit to the sacred mountain of Sri Pada,” the Podi Hamuduruwo said.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
Updated February 16, 2007
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