The Agrabodhi Vihara in Weligama is an ancient temple that dates back to the time of King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC). The Bodhivamsa, a chronicle that recounts the story of the bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, states that the very first bodhi sapling out of the 32 saplings brought to Sri Lanka from the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi, was planted here by the king. The Sri Maha Bodhi holds great significance to Buddhists all over the world as it is the bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment.
According to Folklore
When the first few saplings were being transported to the south, the group rested for one night in Weligama and it is said that one of the saplings had taken root here. It was decided to leave the tree on this site, thus the first bodhi tree temple was created. There is also another belief that the temple was constructed by King Agrabodhi IV and the name was after him.
A Temple Deeply Rooted in the Ancient Kingdoms
The temple has roots from almost all of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Ruhuna. However, despite the almost three-millennia old temple, most of the structures seen today were built during the reign of the Kandyan Kingdom following the destruction of the temple by the Portuguese. Nevertheless, you should visit the temple to find peace and calm amidst bustling Weligama.