Galapata Raja Maha Vihara, Bentota - Timings, History, Darshan, Pooja Timings

Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Bentota Railway Station): 4 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 30 Mins - 1 Hr

Transportation Options: Cab / Auto

Travel Tips: None

At a distance of 4 km from Bentota Railway Station, Galapata Raja Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple situated in the coastal town of Bentota, Sri Lanka. It is one of the ancient Buddhist temples in Bentota and among the prime places to visit as part of Bentota Tour Packages.

Also known as Galapata Buddhist Temple, this temple dates back to the 12th century CE. Legend claims that it was built by a minister of Parakramabahu (1153 -86 CE), who was responsible for most of the wonders at the medieval city of Polonnaruwa. However, the temple faced serious damage during the Dutch invasion in the 16th century and was subsequently rebuilt giving it a newer look. However, one will be fascinated by the mural paintings, Jataka stories painted on the walls and the Avasaya that has a hint of colonial architecture attached to it even today.

True to its name (meaning built-in stone), most of the temple is built from rock right from the pathway that leads to the temple to the welcoming stone archway. The arched doorway is made of 2 upright monolith carved pillars with another 2 pillars on the top and bottom of the doorway. Dating back to the Kandyan Period, these pillars are elaborately carved with the 'Nari Latha' motifs. Originally installed at the Kali devale, these stone pillars were then transferred to the Udakotuwa Raja Maha Vihare in Bentota and eventually brought to the Galapata temple premises. Close to the stone gateway down on a rock outcrop is etched a line of inscriptions supposed to date back to the reign of Parakramabahu the Great of the 12th Century AD.

Galapata Vihara is known for its attractive collections of magnificent wall paintings, and Buddha statues. A rare archaeological finding that was made at the temple in recent years is a stone water filter, made out of a substance that has the possibility to absorb water poured into it. Inside the shrine room is a reclining Buddha statue, about 25 feet long. Another significant aspect of the temple is the Dagabo where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Maha Kasyapa Arahat, the 3rd disciple of Lord Buddha, is said to be have been enshrined. It is also believed that the temple was linked by a maze of subterranean tunnels with all the other temples in the area - traces of which are still extant.

Timings: 5 AM - 9 PM