Ridi Viharaya ( Silver Temple)


Location of Ridi Viharaya


Ridivihara is located at Ridigama village in Kurunegala district. The name "Ridigama" means "silver village". If you are coming from Colombo, take the Kandy road from Kurunegala and travel around 4km. From the Mallawapitiya Junction take the left turn and travel along with the Keppetigala road. This is not a carpeted road, but road condition is not bad. You have to travel around 15 km then you will reach the Ridigama. You can get help from the villages to find the directions. The by road from the Ridigama main road to Ridiviharaya is a well maintained and, you have to travel around 1 km more. Ridiviharaya is at your left hand side and you get a enough parking area opposite to the temple.

Ridi Viharaya Boo Tree
Ridi Viharaya Boo Tree

Ridi Viharaya History

Ridi Viharaya has a long history which is dated back in Anuradapura Kingdom time. This temple was done by King Dutugemunu, who ruled Sri Lanka from 161 BC to 137 BC.

According to the historical records, some merchants were traveling from Anuradapura to Hill Country(Malaya rata) and saw a riped Jackfruit hanging on a branch. They cut it from stalk and thought of giving a part as alms to a Buddhist monk.

There were four monks (Arhants) appeared and went away after accepting the alms. Then another four came and three left after accepting the alms.

Once the merchants started to leave the place, the remaining arhat showed them a path and ask them to go that way. On their way through it, they found a cave with Silver ore in it.

They took a piece of silver to the King Dutugemunu and inform him about what they found. King Dutugemunu was facing some difficulties in finding the funds to complete the great "Ruwanmeli Maha Seya" at that time., He was very happy about this news. Revenue from this Silver was used to compete the "Ruwanmeli Maha Seya".

In return, king decided to build a temple by that the cave, its call Ridi Viharaya. He employed 300 stone masons and 700 other people including his chief artisan Vishwakarma Prathiraja Ridi Viharaya went on a major revival process in kandian time under king Keerthi Sri Rajasingha (1747-1782). The Uda Viharaya ( Upper temple) was done at that time.

At Ridi Viharaya

Once you pass the main entrance of the Temple , the Serasum Gala is at your right hand side. The Waraka Weladu Viharaya(Jack Fruit Treat Temple) and the Maha Viharaya is located by the left side of the entrance.

If you proceed towards left, you will find the historic Boo tree first. There are several recent buildings also. Then you will reach to Wahalkada and then step down and visit the Waraka Weladu Viharaya.

Serasum Gala

This is a small rocky hill by the right side of the temple entrance. This was believed that the original site of the Temple. You can see a old stupa at the top. Some believe that this is the place where king Dutugemunu come and dressed to worship Rediviharaya.

Waraka Weladu Viharaya (Jackfruit Treat Temple )

Waraka Weladu Viharaya
Waraka Weladu Viharaya out side view

This is a very small temple, located by a small rock. Actually this is in size of a very small room and made by stones. Inside you will find a Buddha statue and many paintings belonging to Kandian era.

Waraka Weladu Viharaya Buddha Statue
Waraka Weladu Viharaya Buddha Statue

Waraka Weladu Viharaya Buddha Statue
Waraka Weladu Viharaya Buddha Statue

This temple has similar features, what we can see in Hindu temples. Other noticeable thing is the stone pillars with carvings.

It is believed that this is the place where the arahat accepted the Waraka ( Jack Fruit) danaya and consume it.

 Waraka Weladu Viharaya Rock Pillers
Waraka Weladu Viharaya Rock Pillers

Hevisi Mandapaya

 Ridi Viharaya - Hevisi Mandapaya
Ridi Viharaya - Hevisi Mandapaya

Once you pass the "Jackfruit Treat Temple ", you will reach the Hevisi Mandapaya. There are no paintings or statues over here, but you can see few historical things such as "Pellackkiya"s and a rice bowl.

Pallekkiya in Hevisi Mandapaya
Pallekkiya in Hevisi Mandapaya

Maha Viharaya (Main Temple):

Ridi Viharaya - Maha Viharaya and Unda Vehera
Ridi Viharaya - Maha Viharaya and Unda Vehera

Maha Viharaya is the main Cave temple located after the Hevisi Mandapaya. This has few Buddha statues , some other statues and large number of paintings on walls and roof of the cave.

Ridi Viharaya - Gold Plated Buddha Statue Doneted by King Dutugemunu
Gold Plated Buddha Statue Doneted by King Dutugemunu ( 101-77 BC)

This section of the Ridi Viharaya was done by king Dutugemunu and you can see the gold plated Buddha statue, which was donated by king Dutugemunu. According to the historical records, this statue was bring down to Sri Lanka from India. This statue was underdone some restorations in Kandian kingdom time and currently kept in a special glass casing.

Ridi Viharaya -  Maha Viharaya Statues and Paintings
Maha Viharaya Statues and Paintings

There are hundreds paintings of Load Buddha were done on the wall of the temple. These paintings seems need some restoration. Other than the gold plated Buddha stature, there are several other Buddha status are located inside. One statue believed to be king Dutugemunu, which is dated to the Anuradapura time.

Other interesting thing in here is the old Dutch floor tiles, laid by the recumbent Buddha statue. You can see rows of tiles, with blue colored painting on while background, which explain the various e incidences happens in Cristian religion history such as Garden of Eden, Adam and Eva, creation of man etc. According to the some historical facts, these tiles ware a gift to King Kirthi Sri Rajasinga (1746-1778 AD) by a Dutch envoy and then he donated to the temple. These tiles were laid without a proper orientation or a order.

Ridi Viharaya - Floor Tiles with Christian Stories
Ridi Viharaya - Floor Tiles with Christian Stories

Don't forget to check the ivaroy carving of a vase call "Pancha Nari Getaya" ( knot with five maidens) designed on the one of the temple door.

Uda Veharaya (Upper Temple) and Stupa :

Uda Vehera is located by the right side of the Maha Viharaya and dated to Kandy Regime time This temple was build by king Keerhi Sri Rajasinghe in 18th century.

Ridi Viharaya -Stupa at Uda Vehera
Ridi Viharaya -Stupa at Uda Vehera

The main attraction in here the Buddha stature with the Makara Thorana ( Dragon Arch) There are many images of the Hindu gods.

Ridi Viharaya - Uda Viharaya Buddha Statue
Uda Viharaya Buddha Statue

You can see a small Stupa ( dageba) also in this cave.
Other special things to notice is painting of three lions with one face( call Thri Sinha Rupaya ) and some painting about king Rawana.

Paintings on the Cave :

Paintings on the Cave
Paintings on the Cave

Paintings in the Cave above the Roof You can see some frescoes done on the cave wall, just above the shrine room roof. This collection has a image of load Buddha and many monks and almost faded away. Seems these images were not completed, the marks of the sketches also visible.

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