Over the years we had driven past the Kumarakanda Vihara many times. It looked interesting, but somehow we never found the time to stop. Last year we finally paid it a long-overdue visit.
The temple's external appearance had always appeared to me to have been strongly influenced by Dutch colonial architecture. The arch at the top of the steps shows a date of 2308 in the Sri Lankan Buddhist calendar. This equates to 1764 CE - thus confirming that the temple was built when the Dutch ruled over this part of the island.
The name 'Kumarakanda' apparently translates as 'hill of the Prince' and 'Vihara' is Sinhala for 'monastery' or, in a wider sense, a 'temple'. A stupa, such as the one pictured below, is an essential element of any Sri Lankan Buddhist temple.
We were surprised by the extensive colourful murals we found inside. They looked reasonably well-preserved, but may have been added (or repainted) some time after the temple was built. In any case, we found them very interesting.
A chamber just off the main corridor contains a large statue of a reclining Buddha.
A small Buddha statue also sits in a niche on the side of the stupa. By the looks of it, this is where worshippers place their offerings.
The huge statue at the entrance to the compound is clearly a more recent addition.
The temple was well worth the visit - we certainly should have come here long before. It is situated just off the main coastal highway, roughly at the point where the road crosses from Hikkaduwa into Dodanduwa.