According to the historical information, the temple was constructed under the leadership of King Dutugemunu in 2nd century BC. Temple was further improved under the patronage of King Walagambahu in 1st century BC. Veheragala Temple had been given royal patronage due to its importance as a religious centre, during the Anuradhapura period (4th century BC to 11th century AD).
Temple was renovated several times after 1st Century BC. But no proper evidence is discovered about the reconstruction after 1st century BC. However archaeologists have discovered two gold plated Buddha statues and they are dating back to 7th and 9th century AD, proves that the temple was given a prominent place in the religious affairs through 7th and 9th century AD.
Veheragala Rock Cave Temple- Present condition
History of Veheragala Temple is one of the popular places among the holidaymakers on the island.
The temple is under the purview of the Department of Archeology, it is conserved and in good shape. The historical name of the temple was known as “Nuwara Gampalatha Kanada Korale Ella Weawa”. The ancient name was derived from the nearby lake of the temple that still can be seen next to the temple. Since 1968 the official name of the temple is “Veheragala Siri Sanga Bo Vihara”.
There are large numbers of artefacts discovered at the site during the excavations. Two valuable Buddha statues; one is in meditation posture and the other is a reclining statue, are among the objects discovered in the temple. Both statues were made of bronze and gold plated. Presently the Buddha statues are in the national museum of Colombo.
The meditation Buddha statue is 49.8 cm in height, and its seated position is called “Maharaja Leelasana”. This statue considered to be one of the best examples of ancient craftsmen of Sri Lanka.
The height of the Standing Buddha is measured to be 66 cm. this valuable artefact is deposited in the national museum at present. The right hand of the statue is raised and while the left hand is holding the robe. The Buddha statue is called “Abhaya Mudra”.
Miriwedi sganaga (sandals)
Anuradhapura ancient capital of Sri Lanka is popular for historical Buddhist temples. According to Theravada Buddhism, the devotees are worshipping the sacred Bo-tree, Dagoba and Buddha statues. But devotees of Mahayana Buddhism have a habit of worshipping” Miriwedi sangala” (a kind of sandals). According to Mahayana Buddhism, Miriwedi sanagala is given the importance similar to the footprint of Buddha.
The pond that can be seen at the entrance of the temple, believed to be also originated in the early days of the temple. Towards the northern end of the temple is a cave, which believed to be resided by the monks. One can find a Dagoba near the granite cave; it is renovated by the department of archaeology. On the summit of the rock is a valuable stone inscription dating back to the 9th century. The stone cut staircase leads the way to the summit of the rock.
How to get there
Veheragala is a rock cave temple situated in the district of Anuradhapura, North-Central province. It can be reached driving along the Trincomalee-Anuradhapura main road. Turn to the right (Towards Kahatagasdigiliya) upon reaching the 62nd milepost on this route. After a few kilometres from the main road is the Veheragala temple.