The Matale Alu Viharaya is a sacred Buddhist temple located in Aluvihare, Matale district in Sri Lanka. (Matale-Dambulla road and about 2 miles from the city of Alu Viharaya). Surrounded by hills, the famous Aluvihara cave temple 30 km south of Kandy on the Matale-Dambulla road is of great historic importance. It is of historical importance place and also called Aluvihare Rock Temple.
AFTER THEN/The Aloka Vihara became Aluvihara. Folklore has many meanings to the name Aluvihara. One is that the Pali word Aloka was Alu (light) in ancient Sinhala and as it was the abode of Theras, it was a Viharaya. Hence the two words have been coined to make it Aluvihara. Another view is that although there is a huge rock, east of the main rock cave, it has not cut off the light. Therefore it was known as the Aloka lena (cave with light).
The history of Aluvihare Rock Temple is traced back to the 3rd Century B.C to the reign King Devanampiyatissa, It is believed that the King built the dagoba, planted the Bo sapling and founded the temple after the introduction of Buddhism to the country during his reign.
Ven. Dr. Inamaluwe Nandarathana Thera, the trustee of the Viharaya said that this June 1, 2012 Department of Agriculture, Peradeniya had inspected the tree and shifted a root to grow in another direction, avoiding a section of a rock. The Ven. Thera says that it started to grow thereafter and is fairly tall now.
It had been the practice in Buddhism to hand down the sacred literature orally, from one generation to the next. It is recorded that during King Valagamba’s rule, the Pali canon was recited and along with the commentaries and it was written down in a cave at Alu Vihara.
Aluvihare Rock Temple was the historic location where the Pali Canon was first written down completely in text on ola (palm) leaves.Many monastery caves, some of which exhibit frescoes are situated near this temple.
At present there are 13 rock caves. The Ven. Dr. Inamaluwe Nandarathana Thera had cleared three caves that were overgrown with shrubs and buried under soil just three years ago. He remembered seeing these buried rocks as a young child when he came to the temple premises. He used his own funds and cleared the caves.