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 Post subject: Kiri Vehera - Kataragama
 Post Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2005 3:57 pm 
Kiri Vehera - Kataragama

@ Sunday Observer

When we talk about the historic city of Kataragama, one place we cannot forget is the Kiri Vehera. It is one of the five most important sites of worship in the city along with the Maha Bodhi, Kataragama Devale, Sella Kataragama and Vedihitikanda. The dagoba is also described in the stanzas as one of 16 most important pilgrimage sites in the whole country.

The 95 feet tall Kiri Vehera has a circumference of 280 feet. It is milky white in colour, hence the name. It is situated near the famous Menik Ganga.


There are many theories as to the origin of the dagoba. Some believe it was built by Parakramabahu the Great of Polonnaruwa during the third century BC, on the request of Queen Subadra. Some think that it was first built by a local ruler named Mahasena on a site made hallowed by the Buddha's visit.

Some believe that the vihara was originally known as Magul Maha Seya and although there are no clues as to who built it, the bricks used in the construction bear Brahmin inscriptions which point to King Mahanaga's reign during the third century BC. Some records even date it to the first century BC.

The Buddha is believed to have paid a visit to Kataragama during His third trip to Sri Lanka. The Kiri Vehera is said to enshrine the golden seat the Buddha sat on during His sermon, a lock of His hair and the royal sword (magul kaduwa) with which Prince Siddhartha cut off His hair at the Great Renunciation.

The place is also linked to the reign of Dappula I, Vijayabahu I and Kavantissa, the father of King Dutugemunu and Saddhatissa. However, the Kiri Vehera went into ruin with jungles covering much of the area after the Chola invasions of Polonnaruwa in the 12th century. A renovation programme was carried out at the Kiri Vehera in 1912 and again in 1970.

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