Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya

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Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, Ella Overview

Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya or Muthiyangana Temple is a Buddhist temple at the centre of Badulla, a town 22.7 km away from Ella. The stupa has a history dating back to the 5th century BC and has continued to be a popular attraction in the country for tourists and pilgrims alike.

Muthiyangana Temple is one amongst the sixteen sacred Buddhist temples in the country. According to legends, during Lord Buddha’s third visit to Sri Lanka, he had given his sermons at the location where Muthiyangana Temple now stands. The stupa was built by a tribal leader and later transformed into a temple complex by Sinhalese kings. Apart from the stupa, Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is also known for the four Bodhi trees at its premises, each tree with an interesting story associated with it. Also, a procession occurs annually at the temple.

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History of Muthiyangana Temple

Lord Buddha, along with 500 Arhants (one who has realized enlightenment), during his third visit to the island, arrived at Badulla by the invitation of King Indaka, the chieftain of the Deva tribe. King Indaka immortalized a few of Lord Buddha’s hairs, alongside drops of sweat that later turned into pearls, into a stupa at the site of his sermons.

The renovation of the stupa to form a temple complex began during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa and was continued by several Sinhalese kings who succeeded him

Features of Muthiyangana Temple

1. The Thorana
The Thorana is a structure at the entrance of the temple, comprising six levels. Apart from the first level, which is the main entrance, figures of various animals, such as bulls and lions, adorn the remaining levels. The second level is noted for the Makara (dragon head), flanked by the figures of two guards.

2. The Image Houses
The temple complex includes two image houses with ancient paintings inside. A striking Makara Thorana lies at the entrance to the main image house, along with two statues of Indaka and Maithee Bodhisattva. The centre image house sits behind the stupa.

3. The Stupa
The holy stupa is the site of the enshrinement of Buddha’s hair and Mukthaka Dathu, the drops of sweat that were transformed into pearls. It has a diameter of 270 feet and a height of approximately 65 feet.

4. Bo Trees
The Bo or Bodhi trees are sacred to the religion; there are four such trees scattered across the temple complex. It is believed that there were initially seven trees; the disappearance of the other trees is shrouded in mystery. One of the trees is named after Maliyadeva, Sri Lanka’s last Arhant. Another tree is said to have been planted by King Devanamapiya Tissa and is an offshoot of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred fig tree in Anuradhapura.

Best Time To Visit Muthiyangana Temple

The best time to visit Muthiyangana Temple is on non-full moon days. The temple is crowded with hordes of pilgrims on full moon (Poya) days. Visit the temple in the early morning or the late afternoon to avoid the heat.

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