How to go to Varana Temple:
Warana Raja Maha Viharaya, or the Varana Temple got its name because it's located in Warana village. This is one of the cave temple located in Western province of Sri Lanka, which can be reach less than 1.5 hours from Colombo. You will be amazed to see historical cave temples on the giant rocks with some ancient inscriptions(Brahmin script ).
Warana temple is located around 5 km away from the Colombo Kandy highway. If you are coming from Colombo, turn right from Yakkala Junction and go around 4 km. Then you will find "Nelli Gaha Mula" junction and turn left from there. You have to go around 1 km and then take a another side road, which leads you to Warana Temple.
Villages are very helpful and you can check the road with them also. On our way he stopped several places and checked the road. Road condition is OK, but its not that wide. You will definitely like to drive these winding roads, you can enjoy some country side views of Srilanka, cascading paddy fields, bufferlos and there are many rocks passing by.
Entrance of the Varana Temple
There is another approach by taking turn from Thihariya, from Colombo Kandy road.
The Attanagalle and Pilikittuwa temples are also located in a close proximity.
History of Varana Temple:
History of Warana Rock temple flows up to king Devanampiyatissa time. According to some written information he constructed this temple between 2nd and 3rd centery BC. Later the King Walagamba did renovation in 1st century AD. King Walagamba is a famous for Rock ( cave) temple building in Sri Lanka, because he used to hide among most of those caves when kings from south India invades Sri Lanka. After he won the battle, He had build temples in most of these locations or renovate the existing ones. King Nissanka Malla and king Parakarmabahu VI also contributed to the development of this temple.
There are some inscriptions find in Warana temple. They says that "This is donated to Tissa Dhatta Thero, the brother of Majjhima Thero". The Tissa Dhatta Thero is considered as the student of Mahinda Thero.
At Varana Temple:
Temple consist of three levels, In the first level the Sangawasaya ( Where monks lives), and the Darma shalaya ( using for Preaching ) is located.
Meda Maluwa ( Second Level)
You have to climb around 40-50 steps to reach the the second level. There is a newly build pond by your right hand side and a small natural pong with lotus by your left hand side on your way there.
Shrine Rooms and the second level
In the middle level ( meda Weeraya - temple at the middle level) you can see a historical Dagebo ( pagoda) and the cave temple. Dageba is small in size and around 800 years old. The cave temple has many Buddha statues and nice paintings. Roof of the cave is painted with beautiful flower decorations and floor has a slope because its located in side the cave.
You have climb another 150 steps to reach the top level.
The stairs are bit steep. You will see a Dageba and another Cave temple also on the top level. This Dageba seems built or renovate recent times.
You will get a good view of the surrounding area. According to information, there are 12 caves in the site, but we didn't noticed all.
Uda Maluwa Dageba( Top Level Pagoda )
View from the top