Asian art

Aluvihare Rock Temple

Aluvihare Rock Temple

View our collection of Temples / Shrines in our gallery

Aluvihare Rock Temple is also popularly known as Matale Alu Viharaya which is located in Aluvihare, Matale District of Sri Lanka. This sacred Buddhist temple is situated 30 km north of Kandy on the Matale-Dambulla road. The construction of Aluvihare Rock Temple can be traced back to the 3rd Century BC to the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. It is believed that the king established this temple only after the introduction of Buddhism to the country during his reign.

It is not to be forgotten that Aluvihare Rock Temple was the historic location where the Pali Canon was first written down in the text on palm leaves. We can also find frescoes in some cave monasteries near this temple.

Etymology

Buddha statue

It has been recorded that the various beliefs are associated with the emergence of the word Aluvihara. Some believe that the Aloka Vihara, the temple of light in English, later became Aluvihara. The Aloka is the Pali word which is also referred to as Alu in ancient Sinhalese language. The vihara is the place for the Buddhist monks to pray the Buddha and to spread the teachings of Buddha. Hence the words combined to make the term Aluvihara.

Others believe that even though the temple is situated in a rock cave with a huge rock in the east, sunlight towards the temple is not disturbed by anything. Therefore, it was known as the Aloka Lena, the cave with light in English.

Historical significance of the Aluvihara Rock Temple

During the reign of King Walagamba in the 1st century BC, Sri Lanka faced a 12 years long famine, popularly known as Baminithiyasaya. Due to famine, Buddhist monks had a troubled time and therefore around 60 Buddhist monks migrated to Malaya Rata, the hilly area of the country. They managed to live on the banks of the Mahaweli river. Other monks set off for India.

At the same time, there was also a South Indian Invasion in the country. The King Walagamba was overthrown by a South Indian during the invasion. With continuous effort, the throne was regained by defeating the invaders only after fourteen years.

After ending the famine and regaining the throne by the King Walagamba, the monks returned. The Buddhist monks realized that the existence of the teachings of Buddha will be a danger if the South Indian continuously invade their country. They also felt that memorizing and repeating the Dhamma would be difficult in that period. Then they decided to transcribe the Tripitaka for the preservation and for the use of future generations. The monks selected Aluvihara Rock Temple as the most suitable and secure place to carry out the transcriptions. It is said that 500 scholarly monks gathered together at Aluvihare Rock temple to perform this task. It was written down in Pali language on the leaves of Palmyra or talipot palm by a metal stylus.

Since this word was done on the premises of the Aluvihara Rock Temple, this temple has the most significance for the Buddhism.

Features of Aluvihare Rock Temple

In the premises of Aluvihare Rock temple, there are many caves with ancient inscriptions. These caves are surrounded by modern wall and ceiling paintings. There are also impressive Buddha statues. The main cave constitutes large reclining statue of Buddha along with Standing and seated Buddha statues. One of the cave has terrifying depictions of the hellish afterlife that awaits people who commit sins.

Among the caves, one cave is dedicated to the Indian monk, Buddhagosa. He is regarded as the greatest exponent and interpreter of the Pali canonical scriptures. He also spent several years at the Aluvihara to engage in his scholarly works.

Share this page

View our collection of Buddha statues in our gallery

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

2750 euro
Old Nepali Buddha statue

Old Nepali Buddha statue

550 euro
Antique limestone Buddha

Antique limestone Buddha

325 euro
Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

2750 euro
Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

450 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha statue

3750 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

2250 euro
Large old wooden Buddha statue

Large old wooden Buddha statue

1250 euro
Antique marble Buddha statue

Antique marble Buddha statue

1750 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

3500 euro
High quality Nepali medicine Buddha statue

High quality Nepali medicine Buddha statue

525 euro
High quality Nepali Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Buddha statue

1450 euro
High quality Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

850 euro
Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha

750 euro
Antique Thailand Buddha statue

Antique Thailand Buddha statue

125 euro
Bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Bronze Nepali Buddha statue

175 euro
High quality Nepali Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Buddha statue

2450 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

1950 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha statue

175 euro
Large bronze Thai Buddha statue

Large bronze Thai Buddha statue

2350 euro
Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Antique Burmese Mandalay Buddha

1150 euro
Special antique Burmese Ava Buddha statue

Special antique Burmese Ava Buddha statue

5500 euro
Antique Japanese Amida Buddha statue

Antique Japanese Amida Buddha statue

2300 euro
Antique Burmese Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Buddha statue

550 euro
High quality Nepali Buddha statue

High quality Nepali Buddha statue

950 euro
Old Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Old Burmese Mandalay Buddha

650 euro
Antique marble Mandalay Buddha

Antique marble Mandalay Buddha

1600 euro
Antique wooden Japanese Buddha

Antique wooden Japanese Buddha

350 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

5450 euro
Antique Burmese Buddha statue

Antique Burmese Buddha statue

4300 euro
arrow-right keyboard_arrow_right arrow-down chevron-down keyboard_arrow_down chevron-up arrow-left keyboard_arrow_left close menu search twitter facebook youtube-play linkedin envelope instagram google-plus pinterest whatsapp heart-o Wishlist share file-pdf-o printer trash