Galapata Raja Maha Viharaya - Benthara

The stone inscriptions at Galapatha Raja Maha Viharaya
Galapatha Raja Maha Viharaya at Beruwala, Sri Lanka

Situated in close proximity to Benthara River, near a river crossing, which was said to be haunted by a man-eating demon, the Galapata Raja Maha Viharaya holds the key to a number of historical mysteries that continue to mystify archaeologists and historians.

Identified as the Bhimathitta Viharaya, mentioned in the chronicles of Sri Lanka, Mahavamsa and Culavamsa, the stupa at the temple is believed to house the sacred tooth relic of Arhat Maha Kassapa Thera, a chief disciple of the Lord Buddha.

Although the temple is believed to belong to an earlier period, most of the structures found on site today belong to the Kandyan Period. The stone pathway leading to the temple and the stone archway decorated with Nari Latha motifs are textbook examples of Kandyan craftsmanship.

Yet the stone inscriptions by the entrance belonging to the 13th-century detail the renovations and new constructions done at the temple by King Parakramabahu with the assistance of a Dravidian chieftain, while excavations at the site have revealed that the temple had been in existence since the 3rd century BC.

Standing as a mute witness to its rich history is a stone water filter that had been in use at the temple since the time immemorial. Built with a porous stone and shaped like a basin the filter known as ‘Galperanaya’ or the stone filter carries no incisions but filters the water through the pores, to the amazement of the visitors to the temple.