Kirinda-Katharagama - SRI LANKA

Kirinda View



Kirinda Bell




Kirinda is a small but beautiful village on the southern coast of Sri Lanka close to Kataragama. It has a beautiful beach and a Buddhist shrine built on a huge round rock. The area is also close to the Great and Little Basses reefs which provide some of the most spectacular scuba diving in the country.


To us Kirinda is one of the most beautiful temples in Sri Lanka with stunning beach views from its elevated heights atop a rocky outcrop.



Three Women in Sinhala History




By P.L.N. de Silva


The Great

For me the greatest woman in Sri Lankan history is Vihara Maha Devi, daughter of king Kalanitissa and the mother of king Dutugamunu and also king Saddatissa.

It is strange that there is very little information in our historical records about Vihara Maha Devi. Though many of our present-day scholars have written books on Dona Katarina and Gagaman Nona, no one has written even a booklet on Vihara Maha Devi. Therefore it is difficult to give a full account of Devi.

Princess Devi the daughter of Kalanitissa must have been a fantastic child. There is no evidence at all about her birth, childhood or her education. Therefore it is a mystery as to how she got her courage and her patriotism. It is her love of the country that shines throughout her life. It is said the king Kalanitissa unjustly suspected a high priest and had him murdered in a cauldron of boiling oil and threw the dead priest in to the sea. This angered the sea gods and they flooded the land. The displeased people appealed to the king. The astrologers declared that the way to placate the sea-gods was to sacrifice the most beautiful virgin in the land. It was discovered that the most beautiful virgin was the kings only daughter. Naturally the king was reluctant to sacrifice his daughter. However hearing this, Devi came forward and told the king, “father I will sacrifice myself for my country. Therefore a golden colored boat was built with an inscription, A King Daughter. Thereafter she was ceremonially sacrificed to the sea-gods




 The winds were favorable to her. The boat went down south and landed in Hambanthota. The people reported this occurrence to the king, whose name was Kawantissa i.e. crow colored Tissa. Therefore when Kawantissa met Devi it would have been like the Beauty meeting the Beast. Therefore Kawantissa, who experienced love at first sight, took Devi as his chief queen.






Kataragama — Where Sinhala and Hindu Cultures are Interwoven



Ancient statue of King Mahasena at Kirivehera




Few places lavish the luxury of extreme serenity and spiritual bliss just upon setting foot into it the way the Kiri Vehera temple in Kataragama does. While it is the Hindu Kataragama, with its myriad and colourful rituals and renowned deity that has captured the imagination of pilgrims’ world over, the more quietly ethereal Kiri Vehera, in its virgin whiteness, has a charm beyond the clash of colour and life that is so much a part of the venerable holy city.



Kiri Vehera is one of the five most important sites of worship in the city along with the Maha Bodhi, Kataragama Devale, Sella Kataragama and Vedihitikanda. The dagoba is also described in the stanzas as one of 16 most important pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka


The 95 ft. tall Kiri Vehera has a circumference of 280 feet. It is milky white in colour, hence the name. It is situated near the well known Menik Ganga.

There are many theories on the origin of the dagoba. Some believe it was built by Parakramabahu the Great of Polonnaruwa during the Third Century BC, on the request of Queen Subadra. Some think that it was first built by a local ruler named Mahasena on a site made hallowed by the Buddha’s visit.

Some believe that the vihara was originally known as Magul Maha Seya and although there are no clues as to who built it, the bricks used in the construction bear Brahmin inscriptions which point to King Mahanaga’s reign during the Third Century BC. Some records even date it to the first century BC.

The Buddha is believed to have paid a visit to Kataragama during His third visit to Sri Lanka. The Kiri Vehera is said to enshrine the golden seat the Buddha sat on during His sermon, a lock of His hair and the royal sword — magul kaduwa with which Prince Siddhartha cut off His hair at the Great Renunciation.

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