Devinuwara Raja Maha Viharaya
The little town of Devinuwara or the "City of Gods" is located at the most southern edge of the country, about 6.5kms south-east of Matara. Devinuwara is also known as Dondra in English.
At the height of its splendour, in the 13th-15th centuries, Devinuwara has been a busy seaport and a most renowned place of pilgrimage and worship. It had been a landmark with its magnificent temple with a roof of gilded copper flashing far into the sea, and undoubtedly must have been an aid to those who sailed the vast Indian Ocean. The many stone pillars variously sculptured in designs and shapes are evidence of the magnificent shrines and temples in this town that overlooked the ocean up to the latter half of the 16th century.
According to legend Devinuwara was a flourishing city in the time is King Rawana and is connected to the Indian Epic of Ramayana. The 15th century "Paravi Sandeshaya", a poetical work describes the deity at Devinuwara as a destroyer of Asura. Thus it can believed that this same deity is also "Rama" of the Ramayana.
The temple of Devinuwara stands adjoining the famous Sri Vishnu Devale. According to recorded history the temple and the Devale (Shrine) was built by King Dappula I (Dappula-sen) during the 7th century. The Dagaba is situated in an elevated level of above 12 feet from the ground circling about 200 feet. The Dagaba has taken its present form (The Shape of a Bubble) at its renovation after the Portuguese destruction of the original temple in 1587.
After liberating the country from the tamil invadors, King Vijayabahu I (1070-1110) is said to have renovated the temple. and his queen "Leelawathi" has built the “Galathurumula paaya”
History reveals that "Othpilima mandiraya" was built by king Panditha Parakramabahu who became king at Kurunagala in 1306 AC.
"Sitipilima mandiraya" has been built by Senalankadhikara Senevirat, the powerful minister of king Buwanekabahu, who became king of Gampola in 1347 AC. It is read that his mandiraya was a 3 storied building.
The “Watadage” which has been built circling the dagaba is not in existence at present. But its ruins of Stone pillars remain still there around the dagaba. The old “Bo” tree standing on the right of the temple.
There has also been a certain house and “Awasage” for the use of monks in transit but at present where was situated is not traceable.
”Weerabaa nanda pirivena” has been built by the nephew of The king Panditha Parakarama Bahu in about 1258 AD. ”Thilaka privena” is another place where learned priests were living.
“Wanawasa Viharaya” is a temple situated close to main road 100-105 mile posts along Colombo Hambanthota Road. This temple which is covered by forest would have been by the priests who were living at Raja Maha Viharaya for purpose of meditation, it would have taken the name Wanawasa viharaya. The Bo tree there is believed to be sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi.
Primary Source : http://www.devinuwara.org/temple.html
Updated August 24, 2007