Kande Vihara is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in the Kalutara district. The name of this sacred place means ‘Mountain Temple’ and was derived because it was built on the crest of a hill near to Aluthgama town. The temple is a formally recognized Archaeological Site of Sri Lanka.
While the temple was founded by Venerable Mong Karapagala Dewamitta in 1734; the credits for its construction the Venerable Monks Udugama Chandrasara and Dedduwa Dhammananda. However, the temple gains most of its current fame, not from its historical elements; but from the gigantic Samdhi Buddha statue unveiled in 2006. This 48 m statue is the tallest Seated Buddha statue in the world.
The Temple’s Features
Kande Vihare has all the important features necessary for a major Buddhist Temple. These include the Stupa, Bo Tree, Relic Chamber, Image House, Sri Vishnu Temple and the four Great Temples including the Kataragama Temple. The ancient Bo Tree, Sri Saranatissa Memorial Meditation Hall and other such structures are situated outside the vihara premises.
- The Stupa: Kande Vihara has a bell shaped stupa erected within an octagonal shelter. The base of the stupa has a flower petal molding with three steplike terraces above which is the dome. The square boxlike top before the spire has a Bo leaf engraving in each comer.
- The Relic Chamber: This is believed to be oldest structure within the Kande temple grounds. At the entrance to the chamber is a Moon Stone (Sandakada Pahana) on the ground and an ancient solid granite door frame. The relic casket lies within the inner chamber. The relic chamber is also one of the most beautiful places within the temple due to it’s ceiling and walls being completely covered in detailed and colorful paintings, belonging to the latter part of the Kandyan period.
- The Bo Tree: The tree dates back to over 300 years. In 1980s a square enclosure wall was created for the tree.However, recently the present Chief Incumbent Monk erected an replaced the square enclosure with an octagonal one. The cells of the enclosure have sculptures depicting the events during the arrival of the Sri Maha Bodhi sapling to Sri Lanka.
- The Image House: This attractive structure is decorated with complex floral and creeper designs, together with three arched entrances including one magnetic looking decorative arch. It was created in 1731 with an inner chamber and an outer chamber. Within the inner chamber are paintings of Buddha in the standing, seated and reclining postures. Figures of monks have also been painted along with other traditional artistic motifs.
- Outside the Temple: Beyond the temple walls are the Meditation Hall; an ancient Bo Tree surrounded by a lotus petaled wall; and a five storied structure with a small relic chamber, a museum with artefacts, ancient books and scrolls, and the Sri Saranatissa Memorial Library. Numerous valuable books are available within this library. On the other side of the Bo Tree, is the Saranatyissa Dhamma Hall where Buddhism is preached to the masses.
Locals identify this temple as Bentota Kande Vihara, in case you ask for directions.