Dematamal Viharaya is located at Helagama on the Buttala-Okkampitiya road which leads to the Maligawila Buddha Statues. The temple lies about 4 km from the Buttala town.Located in the middle of paddy field, you can see the dark coloured Stupa and the bo-tree surrounded by the green paddy from the road itself. Though much attention is not paid by the average tourist the history of the temple complex is said to date back to the 3rd century BC.
It is believed that this is the temple that prince Tissa hid from his brother prince Gamini (some times called Gemunu, later king Dutugemunu) after a major battle for power at the location now called Yudaganawa.After the death of King Kavanthissa the two sons, price Gamini and prince Tissa had two major battles in the struggle for power. Legend says that the first battle at the Yudaganawa was won by Tissa.But the second battle was won by Gamini and Tissa unable to flee far, hid inside this temple knowing the brother will never violate a Buddhist temple. Prince Gamini chasing after his brother realised he was inside the temple and asked chief incumbent Ven. Gonashanka Tissa thero whether his brother was inside the temple. The thero unable to lie refused to answer the prince.
The name of the temple “Dematamal” also has its own legends. One legend says this area was called Detu-mal meaning “I saw (found) the brother”, which happened at the Viharaya. And later became Dematamal.
Another legend says that once peace was brought within the brothers, prince Tissa was in charge of the area and he cultivated the land and it was very rich in harvest. During this time Prince Gamini (now King Dutu Gemunu) was getting ready for the final battle with the South Indian invader King Elara who was ruling the Sri Lankan capital Anuradhapura, seeing the prosperity of the area King Dutu Gemunu said to his brother “Govithen kala ethi male”. Meaning “We have done enough of farming now brother”. Because of this statement this area was called Ethi-Male which with time became Dematamal.
In addition to the peaceful and serene location, the temple ruins include pillars, guardstone , stone steps, an image house and a series of meditation cells.This guardstone (muragala) is a unique sculpture as this shows a couple in an intimate position and behind the head of the man is a number of Cobra Heads. Generally all guard stones depict a Naga king carrying a pot of plenty and a long floral arrangement in the other hand. Such Stone can be seen at any ancient temple in Anuradhapura or Pollonaruwa.