Ridi Vihara information
Literally the ‘Silver Temple’, Ridi Vihara is so named because it was here that silver ore was discovered in the 2nd century BC. It makes for an interesting detour to see its wonderful frescoes and the unusual Dutch tiles from Neduntivu (Delft).
The primary attraction is the golden statue in the main cave, called the Pahala Vihara (Lower Temple), which also houses a 9m recumbent Buddha resting on a platform decorated with a series of blue-and-white tiles.
The tiles were a gift from the Dutch consul and depict scenes from the Bible, including Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden.
The nearby Uda Vihara (Upper Temple) was built by King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe. The entrance has a Kandyan-period moonstone. Some clever visual tricks were used by the fresco artists; in one case, what appears to be an elephant reveals itself on closer inspection to be a formation of nine maidens. Hindu deities and images of the Buddha are represented in the caves.
Outside the temple complex you can see an abandoned dagoba at the top of a smooth rocky outcrop. On the way up, to your right, is an ancient inscription in the stone, said to have been etched on King Dutugemunu’s behalf. An easy 10-minute walk starts to the right of this abandoned dagoba (as you are walking up to it). Head past a modern pavilion to an abandoned bungalow; nearby, on the top of the cliff there are the most magnificent views.