Wewurukannala Vihara consists of three separate parts. The first part of the temple is almost 250 years old. The next is of great significance. If you don’t follow the path to enlightenment what fate befalls you by way of punishment are depicted. The temple walls show the path towards enlightenment by depicting hundreds of representations of events in the Buddha’s lives. Wewurukannala Vihara is one of the more popular and important Buddhist shrines and also a popular Tourist Spots in Sri Lanka. The most important aspect of Wewurukannala Vihara is that it consists of a gigantic statue of the Buddha, in a seating posture.
The first part of the temple which dates back to the 18th-century reign of King Rajadhi Rajasinghe of the Kandyan Kingdom and has a more modest Buddha worked into the structure’s outward-facing architecture. The second element, the giant Buddha statue, was constructed in the 1960s when a penchant for larger-than-life roadside attractions took the world by storm. At 160 feet tall, it literally and figuratively rises above the quagmires of earthly life. Which leads to the third, most overlooked, aspect of Wewurukannala Vihara: in order to observe the big Buddha Statue up-close, visitors must first navigate the Tunnel of Hell.
Down in the tunnel, life-sized models illustrate what will happen should one succumb to all those earthly temptations lining the path to enlightement. It is Buddhist Hell made tangible, played out in cartoonish horror before visitors’ eyes. Highlights include immersion in boiling cauldrons, disembowelment, and sinners being hacked to pieces by human-like demons with fangs.
The end result to Wewurukannala Temple and its message reads strikingly the same: Don’t stop in the middle, for a serene paradise awaits just on the other side.
How to reach Wewurukannala Temple
At the town of Dikwella, 22km from Matara, a road turns inland towards Beliatta. The temple is approximately 1.5km down the road.