Weherahena Temple or someone called “Weherahena Poorwarama Rajamaha Viharaya,” is another nice place to visit in Matara, Sri Lanka. It is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site with a large Buddha statue. The temple is considered the first and largest tunnel temple in the world. But there is no great historical value behind this. The distance to Weherahena Temple from Colombo is 170 km, and from Matara city, it is 7 km.
There is an interesting story behind this tourist attraction. It dates back to the early 20th century. Rev. Parawahera Rewatha Thero has arrived in the Weherahena area as a punishment from his teacher. The land was approximately 0.5 acres in size at the time, and it was made up of a Bodhi tree. The Thero then built a small clay house on the land with the support of the people. He then decided to develop the temple and planned to build it into the largest Buddha statue in the world. He also wanted to build a tunnel temple, as has been mentioned in the Ummagga Jathaka Story.
In 1939, the Thero began construction on the planned temple with the help of Anagarika Dharmapala. The tunnel was first made, and the work on the large statue was started later. Finally, the statue was completed in 1976. Japan was also encouraged to rebuild the temple in a modern style after 1976. The area of the whole temple is nearly 3 acres today.
Today, visitors to the temple can see the beautiful and decorated art on the tunnel walls. The 39-meter height Buddha statue has brought massive attraction to the temple from the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The Buddha statue is also thought to be in the samadhi position.
We suggest you visit this beautiful Weherahena Temple during your tour of southern Sri Lanka.
(Featured Image Credit: Gamini Nishantha from Facebook)