Sri Sankapala Raja Maha Viharaya is a famous cave temple situated in the Colombo-Hambanthota main road. It’s a large temple with many caves but not all of them are accessible to the public. Because it is near a main road and also because it has ample parking space it is frequented by many people traveling through that road. There are plenty of things to see in the temple including old paintings, ancient scripts, caves and the dagoba. There are many historical stories about the temple, making it famous destination in Sri Lanka.
Sri Sankapala Raja Maha Viharaya History
The inscriptions found in the stone caves indicate that this temple has been here for a long time. But the temple is famous because one of King Dutugamunus ten giants, Pussadeva resided here after being ordained. Pussadeva was one of the finest archers in the kings army and he was very proficient at blowing the conch shell. The conch shell he blew during the epic war between King Elara and King Dutugamunu is believed to be hidden in one of caves.
Not everyone is convinced about this, some calling it a myth which was taken as a fact overtime. There are conch shell markings in some caves, a sign believed to be used by Pussadeva. As with most legends the real story is hard to find.
The credit of resurrecting the temple and bringing it to its current state goes to a Buddhist monk, venerable Karathota Dharmara. He resurrected the temple during the Kandy era. However he was imprisoned by the king on suspicion of helping the Dutch. During his prison time he compiled the “Bharasa Kavya Gharbha Chakraya”, a famous verse book. It took the might of many scholars to finally understand the verse book and when the finally did it the king was very pleased. He released the monk and gave the income from surrounding area to the temple.