Athkanda Raja Maha Viharaya

Athkanda Raja Maha Viharaya

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Athkanda Raja Maha Viharaya also known as Ethkanda Viharaya is a Buddhist temple placed in the Kurunegala city in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.


  • The history of the establishment of Athkanda Viharaya is obscure.
  • However, a name similar to this temple has been recorded in several chronicles in the country which include Mahavamsa, Sahassavattuppakaranaya, Saddharmalankaraya, Rasavahini, and Vamsattappakasini.
  • According to the information given in Mahavamsa, it’s assumed that this temple may have been established during the reign of King Suratissa.
  • This temple is believed to have received the royal patronage of prince Buvanekabahu and Bosat Vijayabahu at some stage in the Dambadeniya period.
  • The Asgiri Thalpatha is famous because the Buddhist monks who had been touring to Kandy in the arrangements made by King Parakramabahu IV (c.1305-1326 A.D.) had been accommodated at Athkanda Vihara in Kurunegala till king’s officials were capable of taking them to Asgiri monastery at Senkadagala.
  • Also, a few statistics referred to as Thalkola Seetu offer some information about the temple and its in-charge monks during the 18-19th century A.D.


  • Locals consider that the Jathaka testimonies were composed in a cave in this historic temple.
  • This local belief is pinned through the Korawakgala (the balustrade) at the entrance of the cave temple no. 1 in which a unique carving that depicts a Buddhist monk writing a book is found.

The temple:-

  • There are two drip-ledged caves in the temple premises.
  • Of them, the cave temple no. 1 is the biggest and the main Buddhist shrine.
  • It includes statues of Buddha and numerous artwork belonging to the Kandyan tradition as well as to the present-day period.
  • The cave is divided into sections: the internal shrine and the outer part.
  • Three doors offer front to the inner shrine and the center door is guarded by way of two doormen of Nagas.

The inscription:-

  • A rock inscription belonging to the nineteenth century A.D. has been found adjacent to the cave temple no. 1.
  • It records about certain lands donated to the temple.

A protected site:-

  • The Buddha shrine and different archaeological remains in Athkanda Raja Maha Vihara situated within the Kurunegala Divisional Secretariat Division are archaeological monuments, declared by a government gazette notification posted on 7 December 2001.
  • Athkanda Raja Maha Vihara is one of the best places to visit to witness the Buddhist cultures.

Photo courtesy : Onal Karunaratne