A less known Cave Temple | Sunday Observer
Budugehinna Sri Naga Raja Maha Vihara

A less known Cave Temple

10 September, 2023
The cave temple
The cave temple

Budugehinna Sri Naga Raja Maha Vihara better known as the “Punchi Dambulla Cave Temple” due to its resemblance to the popular Dambulla Cave Temple lies in the Palagala Divisional Secretariat division in the Anuradhapura district, 14 kilometres off the Galewela town. As you pass the Galewela-Kalawewa road close to the Devahoova village, a nameboard will direct you to the Punchi Dambulla Len Vihara.

The original temple is believed to have been built by King Walagamba during the first half of the Anuradhapura kingdom, but historical evidence suggests that the cave temple might have been used as a monastery of bhikkhus during the 3rd century B.C.

King Devanampiyatissa

As you enter the sacred premises, you would witness a colossal statue of the Buddha. The temple premises consists of a Dagoba, which according to the Mahawansa, is said to have been constructed by King Devanampiyatissa, one of the earliest rulers who reigned the ancient capital of Anuradhapura from 307 B.C. to 267B.C. The Dagoba was renovated recently.

The main image house is underneath a long cave filled with Buddha images. Two parallel drip ledges three feet apart have been cut into the cave to avoid water dripping in the cave and an inscription lies between these two drip ledges.

On a higher area from the main image house lies another smaller charming cave image house of the Kandyan era. On the ground of the cave temple lies a large oil lamp made of granite block and some Siripathul Gal (carved footprint of the Buddha) The Siripathula stones were used as an object of worship before the statues were built to represent the Buddha.

Multitude of images

Inside the cave temple lies a multitude of images belonging to the Kandyan era. One standing image is carved out of granite which probably belongs to the Anuradhapura period. The image had been destroyed by treasure hunters some time ago, but now restored.

Chief Incumbent of the temple Ven. Andiyagala Nanda Thera told the Sunday Observer that although this sacred site is filled with a large number of artefacts of historical importance, only a few foreigners visit the place because it is not in the famous Dambulla tourist route and being less familiar to foreigners. The Thera requests tour agents to take action to include a description of the temple in their tourist brochures.