Ridi Viharaya

Ridi Viharaya, commonly known as the Silver Temple, stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s ancient Buddhist heritage, dating back to the 2nd century BCE. Nestled in the village of Ridigama, this Theravada Buddhist temple holds profound historical significance, intertwined with the reign of King Dutthagamani of Anuradhapura.

During King Dutthagamani’s reign, the discovery of silver ore in the vicinity of Ridi Viharaya played a pivotal role in the completion of Ruwanwelisaya, one of Sri Lanka’s largest stupas. According to ancient chronicles such as the Mahavamsa and Thupavamsa, the temple complex was erected as a gesture of gratitude towards the divine providence that facilitated the fulfillment of the king’s aspiration to complete Ruwanwelisaya.

Situated approximately 18 kilometers northeast of Kurunegala, within the city of Ridigama, Ridi Viharaya remains a revered pilgrimage site. Kurunegala itself lies 94 kilometers northeast of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, with the temple located about 10 kilometers from Ibbagamuwa.

King Dutthagamani’s legacy is marked by his victorious campaign against the Tamil prince Elara of the Chola Kingdom, which culminated in the construction of Ruwanwelisaya. The necessity of silver for the stupa’s foundation underscores the significance of Ridi Viharaya in Sri Lanka’s religious and architectural history.

Surrounding the temple are approximately twenty-five caves inhabited by Arhat monks since the arrival of Arhat Mahinda in the 3rd century BCE. The temple experienced a revival in the 18th century CE during the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasinha of Kandy, with the addition of Uda Viharaya and the establishment of affiliated devalas such as Kumara Bandara Devalaya and Paththini Devalaya.

At the entrance of Ridi Viharaya lies Serasum Gala, a prominent rock believed to be the site of the original temple’s construction. It is also thought to be the spot where King Dutthagamani adorned himself before paying homage to the temple, with a small stupa crowning its summit.

Ridi Viharaya, under the stewardship of the Malwatte chapter of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, continues to enchant visitors with its sacred ambiance and storied past, preserving the legacy of ancient kings and spiritual luminaries for generations to come.