- The Lost Glory of the Temple by the Beach -
The Pulinathararamaya, in Kalutara holds many untold historic events that took place in the coastal line during the era of Ven. Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera and Anagarika Dharmapala in the 18th century.
In the early 1800, the Pulinathararamaya was identified as Wellabada Aramaya (Temple by the beach), and consisted of only a Budu Madura, a hut and some Buddha statues at that time.
According to the present incumbent of the Pulinathara ramaya, Ven.Dodampahala Siri Suguna Thera, the Wellaboda temple initially was a transit temple for the priests who travelled by foot towards Colombo and other areas.
The prominence for the temple came after Ven.Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera started to visit the temple to rest during his frequent travels by foot from Matara to the Rankoth Viharaya Bana Maduwa at Panadura. Thereafter the temple became one of the meeting places for Sri Sumangala Thera and Anagarika Dharmapala and attracted people in the area.
In 1872, the first stupa was erected and was followed by the construction of the dana salawa.
In short that was the past history of the temple by the beach.
After the demise of Beruwala Sri Niwasa Thera in 1969, the temple started losing its prominence. The once strong Dayaka sabawa is no more. The temple lost its importance and the extents of its land had now been reduced as people started to encroach the land.
The ancient Budu Geya with frescos done hundreds of years ago are now in very bad shape and in need of restoration. Inside it lay two rare statues of the standing Bodhisatva and seated Buddha statues . According to Ven Dodampahala Siri Suguna Thera the frescos inside and out side of the building have been restored by the Department of Archeology many years ago, but are now in need of attention again.
Next to the Budu Madura there is a huge Dana Salawa and the Awasage, which many years ago gave shelter to prominent monks and the people in the country is now in the verge of collapse. The walls of its Southern wing has already collapsed and the entire building is in danger of falling apart. But for the monks who are living in these quarters, they have no option but continue their day to day work.
Next to the stupa there exists a Budu Madura constructed in the early 1930’s which is also in need of urgent attention. Inside it is a beautifully crafted Buddha statue and other statues, quite remarkably in good shape. But unfortunately its roof is in need of attention. The stains from rain water seeping into the Budu Madura are a common site inside this building.
Ven Dodampahala Siri Suguna Thera told Mirror Life that he is finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“If you look around you could see how big this temple is. It’s only my self and two other Samanera Theras managing this temple. Recently, we decided to colour wash the stupa. It cost a great deal of money. But we are doing it with monies that were collected through our dayaka sabawa and other well-wishers.”
Looking after the buildings of the temple is not his only worry. . At present there are about 25 families who were affected by the tsunami still living inside temporary shelters that are erected in the temple premises.
“ On the day of the tsunami and even after that I accommodated over 200 families inside this temple. We had to cook and also look after them. So far we have done a lot of work for these people. Now I feel its time we bring this temple back to its former glory”.
By Deepal Perera
Updated March 25, 2007