Hindagala is one of the most important historical places in the island of Sri Lanka. The history of Hindagala is going back to the beginning of Sinhalese in the country. It was a particularly important place of worship during the reign of King Walagambahu, King Buwanekabahu and queen Henakada Biso Bandara. Hindagala temple was given royal patronage during the reign of kings and queen mentioned here. Hindagala temple is located about 9 Km from the city of Kandy.
The temple is picturesquely located on a mountain and surrounded by beautiful countryside. It has a very suitable calm surrounding for a Buddhist temple. It commands a beautiful view over the surrounding patches of forests, paddy fields and villages.
Hindagala temple was an important place for Buddhism in the country. And the monks of Hindagala temple served in numerous ways for the improvement of the religion in the island. The temple had been leading meditation centre in the country in the early period of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was frequently visited by scholars and devotees of the Kandyan kingdom.
Hindagala cave temple considered to be important due to several reasons. Hindagala temple was inhabited by Buddhist monks for centuries, drip edges are the most important evidence to prove its antiquity. Later with the addition of Buddha statues and paintings, it had become a leading image house in the area. According to the stone inscriptions and the wall paintings of the temple, the transformation was dating back to 6-7 century AD. This had been the beginning of the rapid improvement of the temple.
Two inscriptions dating back to 6-7 Century AD provide the details of the history of Hindagala cave temple. One of the inscriptions was done in the 6th century AD while the second inscription is originated in the 7th century AD. One inscription is written in Brahmi letters and the inscription originated in the 7th century written in the Sinhala language. Both inscriptions are located in the temple premises. One inscription is severely damaged and difficult to read but the other inscription is in good condition. The department of archaeology has taken necessary action to protect the inscriptions.
Partly destroyed two paintings, depicting the life of Buddha are considered to have a prominent place among the historical paintings of the island. The paintings are based on the almsgiving of Tapassu, Balluka and arrival of Buddha to the Indasala cave. According to Prof. Paranavitana, the present name (Hindagala cave temple), is originated due to the second painting. Paintings in the cave of Hindagala are dating back to the 18-19 century AD while paintings of the outer wall are painted in the 20th century AD. Reclining Buddha statue and the standing statue with alms across the chest are considered to be masterpieces of historical craftsmen.