Sri Lanka Travel Tours

Aluvihara Cave Temple

Aluvihara Cave Temple

Sum up

The ancient Aluvihara cave temple is on the outskirts of Matale, north of Kandy, and has great religious significance in Sri Lanka. It was here that the teachings of Buddha – the Triptaka – were committed to writing for the first time, in the 3rd century AD.

Duration: 1 hour

Best Time: Year-round

Additional Information

This monastery is an intriguing place to see. There is a cave dedicated to the ‘Venerable Buddhagosa’, the monk who spent several years in this cave documenting the doctrines of the Buddha in Pali. The language of these Buddhist scriptures (Pali) influenced the development of the Sinhala language.

The temple consists of large caves decorated with images of Lord Buddha and frescoes similar to those of Dambulla Cave Temple. The first two caves contain 10m reclining Buddhas and lotus-pattern murals on the ceilings. The second cave carries more of a threat in the form of cartoon-style murals of the realms of hell to help stop potential sinners going astray. Look out for the sinner whose brains are being ladled out by demons. On top of a square rocky outcrop, a huge Golden Buddha grants blessings with palms facing outwards.

Aluvihara owes its name to legend. The story goes that a giant used three of the rocks here as the base for his cooking pot. The name Aluvihara, which means Ash Monastery, refers to the ashes left by the fire on which he cooked.

The small museum at the entrance includes an example of one of the many Tipitaka texts rewritten on palm leaf after the Aluvihara library was destroyed by British troops putting down a revolt in 1848.

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