Weheragalla Samudragiri Viharaya

This is a documentary video about an ancient temple in Sri Lanka with a historical value. The video won a certificate of appreciation for this video at the eSwabhimani Awards 2014 organised by the ICTA (Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka) and the Ministry of Telecommunication & Information Technology in Sri Lanka.

Weheragalla Samudragiri Viharaya in Mirissa is an ancient Buddhist temple located about 10 Km away from Matara towards Galle.

While this temple is religiously important for the residents of that area & those who are in the Southern province, it is historically important for the whole island.

According to the history, the pioneer of the temple is Venerable Thiranagama Thero who is a descendant of Venerable Welivita Asarana Sarana Saranankara Thero.

The 'Buddha House' has a significant importance because of the paintings in it and it is popular internationally. It is said that these paintings were done near the end of the Kandyan era around 1880s. There are historical records mentioning two names of artists who drew these paintings. These names are 'Dinipitiye Maha Siththara' and 'Edo'.

When comparing, there are some differences between paintings of temple in the southern area and the ones in Kandy area. This has been influenced by the fact that Southern coastal regions were being ruled by the Portuguese & the Dutch while the kandy royalty has been having more connections with South India at that time.

In Kandyan ear paintings, red color background and flowers such as Lotus, Parasathu, Wetakeyya, Sapu are visible. But in the southern area in the Kandyan era darker color backgrounds decorated with more flowers, twigs and branches are visible.

Initially, the paintings have been colored and preserved with locally found minerals such as Sadilingam, Ranhiriyal, Makul and plant based materials such as Gokatu Kiri, Wood apple gum, Keppitiya gum. Later on colored powders, resin, Dorana oil have been used as color preservatives.

Famous archaeologists & artists in Sri Lanka such as Dr. Roland Silva, Prof. Senaka Banadaranayake, Prof. Premathilaka L P T Manjusri have commented that paintings in Weheragalla temple show radiation of the arts in the down south of Sri Lanka. In recognition of unique features of paintings in Samuddragiri temple, Sri Lanka postal Department & the Archaeological Department issued 4 Vesak stamps in 1986.

It is the responsibility of all of us to protect this temple and the paintings for the next generation which are archaeologically and historically invaluable for the Buddhist as well as to all Sri Lankans as a whole.