Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development

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Sacred Area Development

A Sacred Area is defined as a sacred place  with a national and provincial importance for the devotees from a long time as well as a national , environmental, historical, archaeological and architectural dignity.

Objective of the Division

Conservation of sacred areas with a religious importance and a historical value in the Island by providing public utilities & infrastructure facilities and enhancing & upgrading the life style of the people employed in such areas.

Functions of the Division

  1. Identifying sacred areas for development
  2. Declaration as a sacred area in the Gazette of Democatic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
  3. Preparing sustainable development plans and implementation in collaboration with other agencies.
  4. Continuous monitoring and monthly & quarterly progress reviewing of sacred area development projects
  5. Handing over the completed project to the respective Authority in the sacred area for continuous maintenance.
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Status of Sacred Area Development

Small description of Sacred Area Development

Alu Viharaya is located at Matale by the side of Dambulla to Kandy road. Ealier this Viharayawhich was built in 3rd century BC was called ' Aloka Lena' or Alu Lena ' as well.
During the reign of King Walagamba, Thripikaya, Holly Book of Buddhism was documented at Alu Viharaya.



Ambulgama Raja Maha Viharaya is located at Jalthara in Colombo district. This was a famous historical Monastery for many Arahath Bikkus during ancient times. It has utmost respect of all Sri Lankans and one of the Thirty Two Sacred Bo Sapling was planted here.
There are many ruins of monuments visible in the area.



Attanagalle Raja Maha Viharaya is the most important religious and historical sacred place in Gampaha district.Legend reveals a realtionship with King Sirisangabo. Attangalle Raja Maha Vihara was destroyed by Portuguese  and went wilderness.
There are many monuments depicting the historical importance of this sacred place. Pond made at the place where King Sirisangabo offered his head to the passenger, Ancient Bo tree, Dambadeni Dagaba and the Devalas for  God Kataragama, Saman, Paththini and Natha are other important places


Athkanda Rajamaha Viharaya is located at  Kurunegala District in Wayamba Province. It was built during the reign of King Devanampiyathissa in  Anuradhapura period.
During the reign of King Parakumba IV there was a Pirivena called "Mihinduba" in this Viharaya. There are two stone caves and is believed that Arahath Pussadeva lived in this ancient Viharaya.
Documentation of the book of "Five Hundred Jathaka Stories" during the reign of Parakumba IV was taken place in this Viharaya. There is an Annual Perahara performed as the honor for Pansiya Panas Jathaka Potha by the Viharaya.



Aukana Raja Maha Viharaya is world famous for the stone Buddha statue. the Viharaya is also called Kala Vapee Viharaya,Kala Gal Viharaya & Kala Gulu Viharaya and was built by King Dhatusena in 5th century BC.



Bellanvila Raja Maha Viharaya is located at Bellanvila in Colombo district. It is beleived that the Bo tree was planted during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa , 247-207 BC.
Viharaya has gone wilderness and renovated by Kongodagedara Thero in 1850 . In ancient times this was named as Bellanvila Maha Bodhi Rajaramaya or Bellanvila Bodhi Sameepa Viharaya.



Out of sixteen most sacred Buddhist places, Deegavapiya Raja Maha Viharaya located in Digamadulla within the Addalachchena Divisional Secretariat of Ampara District in the Eastern Province has earned utmost respect from all Sri Lankan Buddhists.
Deegavapi was widely developed by King Saddhatissa during the period of 137BC - 119BC erecting a pagoda with a  height of 185 feet.
At Present ruins of a hall at Doctrine, Abode of monks, Museum with an archeological value are visible in the area. 


Delgamuwa raja Maha Viharaya is located at Delgamuwa, Kuruvita in Rathnapura district. Earlier this Viharaya was known as ' Saparagamu Viharaya' and ' Labujagama Viharaya' as well. It is believed that the sacred tooth relic was kept safely at this Viharaya for centuries by the Kings. 



Dimbulagala Aranya Senasanaya is located at Dimbulagala District Secretariat in Polonnaruwa District in the North Central Province. It was established in third century BC and many ruins of Dagabas, Ponds, sculptures and caves are visible in the area. Dimbulagala raja Maha Viharaya is believed to be constructed  by King Mahanama during fifth century BC.


Sacred Area of Egoda Kelaniya containing religious buildings including the ancient Dagaba is situated on the opposite bank of Kelani River.
Egoda Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya belongs to the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya. With the construction of new bridge number of devotees for this sacred place have been increased. 


This Viharaya is located at Asgiriya in Kandy district. the last day of Esala Perahera in Kandy showing the utmost respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic starts from Gedige Viharaya. 
Architecture of Viharaya depicts the tradition of South Indian Vijaya Nagar 
Legend reveals that Gedige Viharaya was also known as 'Chandrawathi Viharaya' or ' Dalada Gaman Maliga Viharaya'. It was built by King Vickramabahu III ( AC 1358- AC 1374) as a gift to his teacher, Dhammakeerthi Thero.
Cremation of King Wimala Dharmasooriya I, Dona Kathirina, and King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe were taken place at this place.


Girihandu Viharaya is located at Ambalantota in Hambantota district. Dagaba was built by King Kawantissa in 2nd century BC inserting sacred hair given by the Lord Buddha to his first lay- followers, Thapassu and Bhalluka.
A ruined statue of Avalokitheshwara Buddha in 7th Century BC was discovered among the ruins. Further ruins of  a Viharaya, Damma Hall and abode of monks are visible at this sacred place.



Katararagama which is important for both Buddhists and Hindus is located by the side of Menik Ganga in Monaragala district. It is believed that the Bo tree behind Kataragama Devalaya is one of eight Sacred Bo Saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi. There is a belief that King Mahasen as God Kataragama. Large gathering with utmost respect reach to this place during the season. Annual Perahera is performed on behalf of the God. Other places of worship at the sacred area are Kiri Vehera, Weda Siti Kanda and Sella Kataragama.


Kodigalakanada Aranya Senasanaya is located at Habarana in Polonnaruwa District within the North Central Province.
This Senasanaya is believed to be built during the time of Arahath Mahinda and later destroyed by the invaders during the reign of King Kalinga Maga


Maligathenna Raja Maha Viharaya located at Badulla district has utmost respect of all Sri Lankan Buddhists since it was a place Lord Buddha visited at his first visit to Sri Lanka after nine months of the enlightenment. 
Bodhiwansa reveal that one of Thirty Two Sacred Bo Saplings from Sri Maha Bodhi was planted at Maligathenna Raja Maha Viharaya.


Maligavila Raja Maha Viharaya is located in Buththala in Monaragala district in area of 200 acres. Earlier this Viharaya was known as Ariyakara Viharaya, Aricote Viharaya, Arikari and Ariyakara.
Maligavila Buddha statues are the main archaeological ruins in the Viharaya. the famous Maligavila Buddha statue built by King Agrabodhi is the highest Buddha statue in Asia (564-598 AC)



Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya is located at Giruwapattu at the top of a mountain in Hambantota district.The temple was built by King Devanampiyatissa and later King Kawantissa, Dutugemunu and several others renovated it when gone to wilderness. Nearly 25 caves are visible in this Viharaya and it was a centre  for Mulkirigala generation of Low country monks. Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya is famous for its frescoes .
During ancient times this Viharaya was famous for witchcraft.



Muthiyangana Rajamaha Viharaya is one of the sixteen most sacred sites in Sri Lanka. Lord Buddha visited this area at the third visit to Sri Lanka. It is located in Badulla District of Uva Province.


Nawagamuwa Sacred Area is situated at Kaduwela DS in the Western Province. Ancient Paththini Devalaya and Sugatha Pinbara Viharaya were located in this Sacred Area. Viharaya was built during the Anuradhapura Area and later went on wilderness and renovated by King Mayadunne


Raja Maha Viharaya is very important sacred place which is located on a relic mountain in Gampaha district. During the time of 1st -3rd century BC , a person named Aggibhuta offered this temple with 99 caves  to the Buddhist monks. The recorded temple with highest no. of caves is Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya. Another special feature of this temple is the timber bridge with Dutch architecture.


Res Vehera or Ses Vehera is located in Kurunegala district. There is one of Thirty Two Sacred Bo Saplings and at the time planting this Bo sapling the whole area was spreaded with rays.. Therefore it was named as Res Vehera which was built by King Devanampiyatissa.



Sanchi Stupa is located in the provincial state of Bopal in India is a Buddhist monastery built by King Dharmashoka in 3rd century BC. It has a close resemblance to the layout and architecture of Mihintale.
Sanchi is the best preserved Buddhist monasteryand was declared as a world heritage  site by the International Councils of Monuments and sites (ICOMOS) attached to UNESCO.


Seruwila Raja Maha Viharaya ha salso been an still remains as a highly respected Buddhist temple in the countrydue to the frontal bone ( Lalata Dhatu) of the Lord Buddha which shrined in the Stupa.
Seruwila is the oldest among the highly venerated temples of which the history runs back to 2nd century BC built by King Kavantissa and further this temple is among the sixteen holiest Buddhist Temples ( Solos Masthana).
Seruvila temple with a religious and cultural significance untouched internal conflicts emerged from time to time.. In 1922 Ven. Dambagasare Sri Sumedhankara Thero re-established the temple with an area of 1000 acres gone into wilderness .



Historical legend reveals that Sithulpawwa Raja Maha Viharaya was known as 'Chiththala Pabbatha or Kinal Pavatha Vehera during ancient times. It ia located at a calm and quiet place at Yala Sanctuary and was built by King kawantissa ( 209-164 AC) as a monastery for  about twelve thousand Bikkus.Later about ten Stupas were built by King Wasaba. King Kanishka Thissa did Thissa Vewa around the Viharaya.
There are many ruins of architecture, monuments and carvings visible in the area.



Somawathi Chaiththaya has also utmost respect of devout Buddhists in Sri Lanka as there is a sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. This has a history of about 2100 years and many ruins of monuments and sculptures are visible in the area.



Lord Buddha visited Sri Pada at his third visit to Sri Lanka. Lord Buddha left his foot print at the top of this mountain which is called Samanalagira, Samankoota, Samanala Kanda, Sumana Koota  and Adams Peak.Sri Pada is conic in shape and located in a set of mountain ranges.
According to the legends , Lord Saman is in charge of this sacred place. Millions of butterflies leave to Sri Pada at the beginning of the season which begins from Unduwap Poya and ends with Vesak Poya.



Temple of Tooth Relic is a world heritage located at Kandy which was built by King Wickramabahu III. As its beauty and prosperity, it was named as Senkadagalapura or Sri Wardanapura.
Temple of the Tooth Relic known as Dalada Ge was built by King Wimaladharmasooriya I.. But 'Pattirippuwa' and beautiful Kandy Lake were built by Kind Sri Wickramarajasinghe.
Annual Kandy Perahera or the Esala Perahera of Kandy is a spectacular cutural pageant which commences with ' Kap Situweema' and end with 'Diya Kepeema'. The ceremony is mainly conducted to invoke the blessings on the King and the people.



Thantirimale Raja Maha Viharaya is located in a sactuary of an area of 250 acres in Vilachchiya in Anuradhapura district. There is a Training and Education Centre for Samanera Bikkus is conducted by the Temple .
History says that  a village for Brahmis, 'Thiwakka' was located within this area.A Bo tree, Buddha statue and a abode of monks constructed by former kings are still visible in the Viharaya.


Thissamaharamaya was built by King Kawantissa in 2nd Century BC as an abode of about twelve thousand monks. This is the centre for Buddhist  culture and Buddhism in Ruhuna.
There are lots of archaeological ruins visible in the premises.


Varana Raja Maha Viharaya is located at Attanagalle in Gampaha district.The ancient Viharaya  and Bo tree  are at the top of the relic mountain called ' Uda Buduge'.


Vidyalankara Pirivena is one of the foremost establishments improving knowledge of Buddhism to monks.
The scope services is Dhamma school, accommodation for visiting monks and the temple for devotees. this is a tribute to the pioneers of Buddhist Educational Centre.
Land for this Pirivena has been donated  by a devout Buddhist for reciting Thripitaka.


Yapahuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is located at Mahawa in Kurunegala district. Ancient kingdom and Raja Maha Viharaya was surrounded by a artistic and architectural wall.Ancient Viharaya and Bo Maluwa are the most important places and carved Vahalkada at the entrance of the temple of tooth relic admire the local and international tourists.
Ruins of a Viharaya, Dagaba and many other constructions with  an archaeological value are visible in the area. Yapahuwa was a famous rock fortress for a Commander called ' Subha' to attack the invaders from 1214-1235 AD.

Attanagalle Raja Maha Viharaya is the most important religious and historical sacred place in Gampaha district.Legend reveals a realtionship with King Sirisangabo. Attangalle Raja Maha Vihara was destroyed by Portuguese  and went wilderness.

There are many monuments depicting the historical importance of this sacred place. Pond made at the place where King Sirisangabo offered his head to the passenger, Ancient Bo tree, Dambadeni Dagaba and the Devalas for  God Kataragama, Saman, Paththini and Natha are other important places