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Ridi Vihara


Ridi Viharaya Ridi Vihara Temple

The Temple that was built where Silver ore was discovered 2300 years back

Ridi Viharaya or the Silver Temple was built at the place where Silver ore was found, that was made used to build Ruwanweli Dageba at Anuradhapura by King Dutugemunu during his rein.

To reach the Ridi Vihara, proceed along Kandy- Kurunegala highway turn off at Mallawapitiya and proceed to Ridigama for about 13 kM. Then proceed about 2 kM to find Ridi Vihara which is built under a rock outcrop which stands about 200 feet high from the surrounding area.

Ridi Vihara is an important Raja Maha Vihara belonging to the Cultural Triangle. Historical Data on this Monastery complex is found in some Caves written in Brahmin Inscriptions. They dates back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BC. During the time of Arahath Mahinda, many Arahaths are believed to be resided in these caves which numbers around twenty five in the surrounding area of Ridi Vihara and Rambadagalla area. The caves had been prepared by cutting into the rock and donated by chieftains of the area to the Sangha.

The Ridi Vihara temple was built later by King Dutugemunu and the details about the construction is mainly being known by the historical chronicle Mahavamsa and by other sources like Ridi Vihara Asna and also by legend.

How this Ridi Vihara temple came in to being is of great interest with many incidents attached .

At the time King Dutugemunu was ruling Sri Lanka [161-137 BC ] from Anuradhapura, there was a route running to Hill Country [ Malaya Rata] near this area. The name Ridigama was used to this area only after the temple was built. At that time a merchant was traveling through this area with oxen carrying his merchandise. While resting in this area he came across a Sweet Jackfruit and offered it to an Arahath Thero residing in this area. The Thero after consuming the fruit for his meal, has shown the direction to the merchant to proceed along. While passing a cave nearby, the merchant has come across a Silver Ore which was inside a cave. Having taken a piece of Silver, he went to Anuradhapura and related the tale of how he came across the silver to the King. The King sent his Ministers to that place and had brought the Silver to the kingdom. He made use of the silver to construct the Ruwanweli Maha Stupa which was under construction at the time. In gratitude the king built a temple at the cave silver was found which was called as Rajatha Lena or the Silver Cave. The village where the temple was situated, was called as Ridigama and the temple as Ridi Vihara or the Silver Temple.

 

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The Gedige Temple or the Sweet Jackfruit Offered Temple

[ Waraka Velandu Viharaya - in Sinhala]

 

This Gedige type temple is dating back to Polonnaruwa era and entirely built in stone, It is built in to the rock cut cave and considered to be built at the place where Sweet Jackfruit was offered to the Arahath Thera by the merchant passing through the area. The Image house is completely covered by stonework to a shape of a cubicle and there are eight pillars on which the stone roof is placed. The pillars are completely decorated and each pillar base has it's four sides with different human figures engaged in physical activities. Coming through the Vahalkada and coming down along few steps, one reaches the terrace level where the Gedige Temple is. The name Gedige is given to this type of Stone structure, which has an Indian influence in it's design.

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The Bodhiya at the Lower Terrace

The Bo Tree or the Bodhigharaya is situated in the lower terrace, which has a Walakulu Bemma or Wave drift wall built bordering one side of the steep hill and at the Bodhigharaya, with a design similar to the wall around Kandy Lake, but of recent origin.

 

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The Drummers' Pavilion

Drummer's Pavilion , which is a rectangular shaped building, has a main entrance with stone steps facing the Bodhigharaya terrace and has arched openings facing the Maha Vihara side.An old Pallakkiya of the Kandyan era can still be seen there, which had been used to carry elderly Bhikkus and important personnel during the Kandyan King's rein.

 

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The Main Temple or the Maha Vihara

[called as Pahala Vihara]

 

This is believed to be built at the Rajatha Lena or the Silver Cave, where the Silver Ore was found, thousands of years back. The earliest buildings had been reconstructed during the cause of 2300 years and what we see today mostly belongs to the 18th Century AD. Many kings has patronised this temple since its inception and to name them are King Amanda Gamini Abaya [21-31 AD], King Parakramabahu the Great [1153-1186 AD] and King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe [1747-1782 AD] who ruled in the Kandyan Kingdom. Inside this temple there are Buddha statues that belongs to the Anuradhapura era.

 

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The Shrine Room at Main Temple

Main temple is the oldest among the three temples at Ridi Vihara. There are several entrances to the Maha Vihara and the Wooden Doors are in very good condition still. The Golden Lord Buddha statue, that was brought here by King Dutugemunu, a large Reclined Lord Buddha Statue, a Maitre Bodhisatva Statue, a statue of Ananda Thera and many more Lord Buddha statues can be seen inside the temple.

 

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Ivory Carvings at Doorway to Upper Temple

[ called as Uda Vihara]

 

The doorway to Uda Vihare is of significance due to Ivory Carving designs it has. The most acclaimed is the carving called the Pancha Nari Ghata or the ' Five maiden entwined ' ivory design.

 

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King Dutugemunu Sculpture

A statue believed to be that of King Dutugemunu, done in granite is of importance among the statues in Maha Vihara temple.

 

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The Upper Temple Buddha Image House

The Uda Vihara houses a magnificent seated Lord Buddha statue with a Dragon Arch or a Makara Torana. The Wall Paintings of this temple are much valued for its unique designs. The famed artist of the Kandyan era, Devaragampala Silvath Thena had done the paintings here at first.

 

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Art Work at 'Cobra House' Upper Temple Premises

The wall paintings flanking the arched doorway to the Naga Vimana or the Cobra House is very famous for it's Kandyan type designs.

 

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Upper Terrace Stone Sculpture and the Dageba

The Uda Vihara can be accessed from Upper Terrace also and by the side of the temple and under the rock cave , is a Chatiya or a Dageba of a small proposition. The stone steps leading to the Upper Temple from the terrace is flanked by a beautiful stone balustrade and a fine moonstone at the bottom of the steps.

 

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Surrounding Areas

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The ancient Caves of Arahath Bhikkus

Few caves can be found in the upper elevation of the temple premises which were used by Arahats at an earlier time , which were prepared and donated to the Sangha by important lay people. A fine view of the distant area can be seen from a view point prepared on a rock top here.

 

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The Serasumgala Dageba

The original dageba was constructed during the Anuradhapura era and had been renovated at later times. It is believed that the Arahaths at the earlier times occasioned this area and the earlier vihara complex also had been centered on this place. One can find the steps cut in to the rock itself here and there are inscriptions cut on the rock near to the bottom stairs to the Chetiya.

 

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Reference

J.B.Disanayaka - " Sinhala Vehera Vihara"- Sinhala Edition

 

 

Icon Ridi Viharaya

 

The Gedige Temple

The Bo Tree

Drummers Pavilion

Main Temple [Maha Vihara]

Main Temple Image House

Ivory and Wood Carvings

King Dutugemunu Sculpture

Buddha Image House

Art Work at lower Temple

Upper Temple Image House

Moonstone and Stone Sculptures

The Caves and Observation Rock

Serasumgala Dageba

 


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