In the picturesque journey from Kaluwamodara junction on the Colombo Galle Matara main road, a hidden gem awaits – the temple atop the mountain, known as ‘Kande Viharre’. Some locals also refer to it as Aluthgama Kande Viharra, given its proximity to Aluthgama city.
For those traveling from Colombo, as you pass Beruwala, the Kaluwamodara bridge marks the turning point. Take a left and continue for about a mile, and you’ll arrive at this sacred haven nestled amidst nature’s embrace. The Kande Temple exudes a divine aura, attracting pilgrims and devotees who seek solace and blessings.
Notably, the architecture of Kande Temple distinguishes it from other temples, particularly in the arrangement of its shrine rooms. While most temples feature separate chambers for offerings, at Kande Temple, these rooms are delicately crafted as cottages with intricate Atapattam designs. It is believed that within one of these cottages resides a venerated relic, revered by the devoted followers. The construction of this unique Wehera was undertaken by Ven. Udugama Chandasara Thero, dating back to the year 2327 in the Buddhist calendar during the Vesak month.
Over a century and a half later, in 2479, Venerable Pothuvila Siri Saranathissa Thero added a new chapter to the temple’s history. He built a small chaitya and encircled it with a cottage, signifying another significant milestone in the temple’s evolution. Legend has it that the mountain temple’s construction was carried out to ward off the English, symbolized by a copper leaf, following their capture of the Sinhala king in 1815. Thus, the foundations of the Kande Temple were laid back in 1787.
The awe-inspiring chaitya, adorned with lotus flowers, stands as a testament to the sacredness of the Kande Temple. Notably, the corners of the square fortress are embellished with gracefully carved bow leaves, cascading downwards in an exquisite display of craftsmanship. To provide respite from the scorching sun during the afternoons, a sheltering ‘Bodhigara’ was constructed, offering a peaceful sanctuary for devotees to worship the sacred Bodhi tree.
Within the temple, the ‘Metal Mandiraya,’ also known as ‘Sri Sugat Dhatu Gaya,’ houses precious relics. Offering trays of rice and other ceremonial items are displayed outdoors, bearing witness to the devotion of the faithful. Be sure to take a moment to admire the traditional Sinhala wall paintings adorning the temple’s interior walls, capturing the essence of ancient artistic heritage. While the quality of the paintings on the ceiling of the courtyard may not match the mastery of the older ones, they still add to the temple’s aesthetic allure.
As you explore, you’ll encounter the grand Buddha building, a magnificent edifice that dominates the temple grounds. However, it’s not just Lord Buddha who watches over the temple; various deities such as Vishnu, Natha, Ishwar, and Ananga find their place of reverence here, each enshrined in their respective sanctuaries.
Knowing your appreciation for ancient art, immerse yourself in the captivating world of Kande Temple’s old paintings. From the exterior and interior walls to the ceilings and doorways, these time-honored wall paintings narrate stories of a bygone era.
Ultimately, a stroll through the mountain temple is an invitation to embrace the serenity and wisdom of the Dhamma.