Grandeur of Gangarama
Gangarama is one of the royal temples located
in Kandy Municipality area. This is so named because of its close
proximity to the Mahaweli river. The route through Gangarama leads to
another royal temple of ancient fame is Degaldoruwa. Inscription of
Gangarama indicates that the route had been used by royalty in reaching
a bathing site at the river.
The monastery of Gangarama possesses valuable 18th Century paintings.
According to historical evidence of the epitaph as well as the style of
the Buddha image the history of the temple runs beyond the 18th Century.
Gangarama. Pictures by Lakshan Maduranga
King Kirthisri Rajasinghe seemed to have lent his full patronage to
the temple. On the face of the boulder containing the colossal Buddha
refers to the renovation of the image, and building of the two storied
shrine completed with paintings.
King Kirthisri Rajasinghe who used to have used the route by the
Gangaramaya said to have greatly worried to see that the temple had been
the target of the dutch who destroyed it. It was King Kirthisri
Rajasinghe who brought the glory of Gangaramaya to its original
grandeur, by spending a great wealth one bestowing great wealth to the
painters and other workers.
There are two enclosed sites at Gangarama. Through a roofed gateway,
the new preaching hall, the Bodhi tree and the two devales could be
reached. The main image house with paintings is in the lower court. This
faces south where the open drumming mandapa is located. The main shrine
has been built round a standing stone image cut out of the living rock.
There is a makara-torana which has been painted over the layer of stucco
work a decorative valakulu-bemma runs around the two court yards.
Arrangement of paintings sculptured and painted makara torana built at
the entrance makes a devotional affect in those who enter the temple. A
pair of Suddhavasa Bhahmas hovers over the arch. There are some figures
of divinities too.
The painting is much damaged. It has flaked at many spots. The door
of the main shrine room has wooden panels painted with figures of
standing lions. Figures of two ferocious guardians Aghora-Bahaiava and
Vatuk-Bahaiawa represent the most terrifying aspect of Siva.
Inscription on the rock of Gangarama indicates the work of King
Kirthisri Rajasinghe in this monastery. He had built dwelling quarters
for the monks, and many grants too have made. The main statue of Buddha
which is carved in high relief bears close similarity as that of the
Avukana Colossus. The King had replastered and painted the image and
also added multi coloured paintings to decorate the shrine. These are
the main attractions of the paintings which catch the eye of the
There used to be great painters who had contributed their skill for
most reputed temples in the country. Gannoruwe Lokumuhandiram, found to
be one of such painters. Artist of Udagama and Hiriyala who had done
great works of painting found to be associated at other sites like
Dambulla. Danagirigala-Dodantale and Ridivehera. According to the old
people of Talwatte – this monastery used to be the cremation site of the
monks of the Malwatte chapter till recent times.
Gangarama is a great temple, which should not escape ones attention.
I say so not because of its historical significance, but the temple
makes the ancient arts an craft live again. Among the main plates of
aesthetic value there are the presiding image of the Buddha which is
main object of worship.
Configuration of Buddha is in inner west wall.
The other paintings of interest popularity and cultural importance
found to be in Gangarama are renunciation enlightenment, Buddha among
the hosts of mara, paintings, depicting second weak often enlightenment,
third week upto the 7th week is well-depicted.