This village has become the cynosure of all – Buddhist – non Buddhist, locals and foreigners – because of the Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya located therein. This temple is considered a place of great sanctity and veneration. And this is mainly due to its sacred Bodhi – tree.
Historical records reveal that this Bodhi – tree is one of the 32 saplings that sprang from the sacted Bodhi – tree at Anuradhapura planted in the 3rd century B.C. The 32 saplings were distributed throughout the Island over 2000 years ago, and the one at Bellanwila temple is one of these 32 saplings.
The belief in the sanctity of the Bodhi – tree and the temple precincts is so long – cherished and deep – rooted in the minds of the people, it is generally believed that a child who treads the ground under shade of this sacred Bodhi – tree will never fail in life.
The precincts where the Bodhi – tree and the temple are located have been considered a hallowed site from very early times, but there aren’t many historical record or archeological findings to reconstruct the chronological history of Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya. Other than a few sporadic reference to it in connection with planting of the Bodhi – tree spling, there aren’t any specific references to it in early times.
Its history shrouded by the mist of time, gets a little clearer by about the 15th century, when Kotte not far away from Bellanwila, became the capital under the reign of King Parakramabahu VI (1412-1476). But the subjugation of the maritime provinces by the Portuguese, in the latter part of the 17th century, adversely affected Buddhism in the region, and these circumstances made Bellanwila temple to go into oblivion again.