Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka: The birth of the Tripitakaya
Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka is a rock-cave temple close to Matale where Buddhist monks wrote the Tripitakas during King Walagamba’s rule. These Tripitakas originally had come down by mere word of mouth by being committed to memory by Buddhist monks of the time. Such Tripitakas are classified into three divisions. They are:
1) Vinaya Pitakaya (Basket of Discipline)
2) Sutta Pitakaya (Basket of Discourse) and
3) Abidharma Pitakaya (Basket of Metaphysics).
Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka: The Structure
At the entrance of the Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka is a solid Pandal with an arch constructed out of concrete it leads to a steep climb of stone steps leading to the Meda-midula — the frontage terrace. Then from there, rise stone steps making way to the drip ledge rock caves.
The Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka has a library containing a gallery of antiques ranging from Buddhist statues made out of clay, brass, marble, while some of them have been gold plated. There are also very valuable Buddha statues gifted by Siam, Cambodia, China, Japan, and Myanmar, together with other archaeological artifacts. The first cave is about 25 feet long and 10 feet high and it was one of the venues where some of these old Thripitaka were written on Ola leaves in Pali by Buddhist monks. On its apex is written in bold Sinhala letters that the Thripitaka were written during the rule of king Walagamba.
It’s a rock cave shelter that harbours an Image House decorated with the typical Makara Thorana. There are also seated, standing and recumbent Buddha statues of terra-cotta, while the murals are adorned with paintings of Jathaka stories. Kandyan period paintings are covering the cave ceilings. A spiral stone staircase ends on its summit where the Sacred Bo Tree stands serenely cloistering an image house in this rock cave. The third cave is met amidst a conclave of rock boulders where is sheltered another rock cave where the Thripitaka were written on Ola leaves by the ancient Buddhist monks and a commodious residence for the present day Bhikkhus arriving from all four quarters.
For more in depth details on religious places, visit our page on Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka.