Devanagala Rajamaha Viharaya

Historic Devanagala Rajamaha Viharaya

Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient cave temple located in the Mawanella area in the Kegalle District. The Devanagala Kovil is believed to have been built during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186) of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom. The temple was first built by King Watagamini Abaya, also known as King Walagamba (89-77 BC). Later King Wimaladharmasuriya (1592 – 1604) of the Kandy Kingdom also contributed to this temple.

One inscription at Devanagala describes King Parakramabahu donating the surrounding land to a commanding officer of his army who was leading a force to Burma in a triumphant march against the King of Burma. The complete translation of this inscription can be found in the 1969 publication of “Lakdiva Inscription” by Kotmal Amaravansha Thero, published by MD Gunasena.

King Wimaladharmasuriya is considered by some to be the second founder of the Kandy Kingdom. Born Konnappu Bandara, he was baptized under the Portuguese name Don Joao Austria. In 1581, the Portuguese baptized Queen Kusmasana as Dona Catarina, the real owner of the throne in the Kingdom of Kandy. King Rajasinghe I, who ruled the Seethawaka Kingdom, immediately overthrew her and dragged the Kandy Kingdom to Seethawaka.

Konnapu Bandara was a commanding officer of the Portuguese army but planned to liberate Kandy from the Portuguese along with the Buddhist clergy. In 1572 he renounced Christianity and converted to Buddhism and was canonized as King Wimaladharmasuriya of the Kandyan Kingdom. To confirm the royal bloodshed, he married Goddess Kusumasana and fought two very successful battles against the Portuguese who tried to invade the kingdom. Later King Wimaladharmasuriya handed over the Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya to Devanagala Rathanasara Thero. A second stone inscription describes the donations made by the king to the Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya.