Devagiri temple in Bingiriya, an archaeological treasure trove | Sunday Observer

Devagiri temple in Bingiriya, an archaeological treasure trove

21 May, 2023

The historic Devagiri Buddhist Temple in Bingiriya popularly known as Bingiriya Devagiri Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient, highly sacred Buddhist place of worship in the Kurunegala District.

The history of the temple dates back to the reign of King Devanam Piyathissa who ruled the country in the 3rd Century B.C. The temple is on the Chilaw- Kurunegala main road about 16 kilometres off Chilaw. One has to travel nearly two kilometres to reach the temple from the Bingiriya town.

The tranquility and serenity of the environment in which the temple is situated and the remnants of the early Buddhist civilisation on the basin of the Deduru Oya captivate the minds of whoever pays a visit to this historic place. This historic temple and its environment have a lot to offer visitors, its tampita vihara (The Buddha Image house on stone pillars) being the cynosure.

Buddha image house

This is a historically important Buddhist temple which has in its precincts the country’s biggest and well-preserved Buddha image house on an elevated wooden platform supported by stone pillars. It houses several extraordinary Buddhist masterpieces which speak volumes about the artistic, architectural and technological expertise of the ancestors.

The Tampita Vihara in the sandy courtyard of the temple premises is considered to be the biggest one of that kind in the country.

The whole structure is 34 feet long and 24 feet high. The image house has been built on 24 granite pillars, each of which is 6 feet in height. The image house on the wooden platform is 20 feet and 6 inches long and 12 feet wide.

There is also a two feet and six inch wide circumambulating path built around the image house. It is a feature which cannot be seen in many other tampita vihara in the country. Two wooden stairways to the image house have also been built.

The paintings and the murals of the outer walls and the roof of the image house are said to belong to the 19th Century and far and away the best Kandyan era wood carvings can be seen on the wooden pillars on the image house.

 This is a national treasure-trove. For all the state-of-the-art equipment in the modern world, it is no exaggeration to say that nothing can surpass artifacts of this kind created with manual dexterity coupled with a great deal of concentration.

Monuments and ruins

There still exist many other historically significant monuments and ruins in the temple premises, which bear witness to the pristine glory and grandeur of the temple. Among them are ancient stone pillars, Buddha statues made of stone and granite, old stone walls, ruins of ancient buildings, old building foundations, old statue houses, ruins of bhikkhu residences, and the Dagaba, whose initial construction work dates back to the period of the Anuradhapura era. But the architecture of the temple and its well-known beautiful paintings bear testimony to influences from the Kandyan era.

Chief Incumbent of the temple, Ven. Padiwela Soratha Thera says that much more concerted efforts must be made by the Department of Archaeology to keep the Tampita Vihara in particular intact.