Showcasing Lankan heritage | Sunday Observer
Burunnawa Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya:

Showcasing Lankan heritage

Sri Nagarukkaramaya Viharaya in Burnnawa is a protected archaeological monument.
Sri Nagarukkaramaya Viharaya in Burnnawa is a protected archaeological monument.

Elegant wood carvings; large, fine doors with carved door jambs; elaborate roofs with strong wooden pillars; and rectangular buildings of wood, wattle and daub were prominent features of Kandyan architecture. The most important part of the Kandyan monastery, the image house (pilima ge), played a significant role throughout the region, established on stone pillars and called tampita viharas. The stone, wood, wattle and daub as well as the verandah (pila) around the pilima ge a traditional response to the climate of the country depicted the heritage of the country. Burunnawa Tampita Rajamaha Viharaya is one such gem of Kandyan architecture and Sri Lankan heritage out of many dotting the central hills.

Built on a wooden base platform that rests on sixteen stone columns 1.3 metres above ground level, the shrine room at the ancient Burunnawa Tampita Raja Maha Viharaya also known as the Sri Nagarukkaramaya Viharaya is evidence of our heritage and exquisite Kandyan architecture.

The protected Archaeological monument is situated in remote Burunnawa Village which is in the Keeriweli Pattuwa of the Beligal Koralaya of Kegalle District in the Sabaragamuwa Province.

The temple borders a large extent of paddy land and is believed to have been built by a Kandyan Chieftain. The exact year of construction is not known but the chief Incumbent Ven Elagamuwe Rathanajothi thera says that the first mention of the temple was in 1884

To reach the temple one has to turn off at the Udukumbura junction on the Colombo Kandy Road and travel just over 3 km on the Oththapitiya Road. Four wooden beams each 6.35 metres in length and 25 cm in height and 23 cm in width and five wooden beams each 4.35 metres in length and with the same height and width have been used to construct the wooden base of the shrine room while the walls are of rammed earth. The stairs leading to the platform seen today was built by the Department of Archaeology when restoration work was carried out in 1993 as the original staircase said to have been more steeper had perished.

The shrine room rectangular in form is 3.35 metres length and 2.4 metres in breadth while the walls are of rammed earth held together by a bamboo and arecanut frame.

The walls are plastered and the interior walls are covered with murals which are in need of restoration. The exquisitley carved 15 cm thick door frame at the entrance to the shrine room is 1.4 metres in height and 47 cm in width.

The frame is flanked by two sword bearing guardian deities.

The tiled roof rests on the wooden wall plates and carved square pillars each of which are 1.9 metres in height and 15 cm in width.

The joints depict the intricacies of Kandyan Architecture. The ceiling is also of wood.

The statue of Lord Buddha in the posture of meditation is 1.25 metres in height. The radius of the halo is 1.45 metres. On either side of the central statue are two other statues of Lord Buddha which are 1.55 metres tall.

In Sinhala Tampita means built on stone columns. Most probably, these wooden shrines have been built on granite columns to prevent them being destroyed by termites.

There are many shrines built on columns within the Kandyan Kingdom but there are a few in other parts of Sri Lanka as well.