The Sabaragamuwa Maha Saman Devalaya is considered the main Devalaya of deity Saman except for the Shrine at top of Sri Pada. The history speaks of a temple at Ratnapura area since the time of king Dutugemunu of Anuradhapura Kingdom, but the recent history starts from Dambadeniya period.
A court Minister called Aryakamadeva had come over to Ratnapura to make a vow for gemming, and if lucky to build a Devalaya to keep God Sumana Saman’s statue. After a sucessful gem mining expedition, he is said to have built the first devalaya dedicated to God Saman at Ratnapura. Although the devalaya was highly influenced by Hindu culture, it remained a Buddhist place of worship throughout the years.
Maha Saman Devalaya, RatnapuraThe Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka in 1505 through the Galle Port. With the demise of Sitawaka Rajasinghe, the Portuguese marched towards Sitawaka destroying and looting temples on the way. These included Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya, Ratnapura Maha Saman Devalaya and Pothgul Viharaya which were highly venerated by the Buddhists. The Ratnapura Fort and a church was built on the ground of Saman Devalaya around 1618-1620 by the Portuguese.
Later the King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781) of Kandyan Kingdom re captured the Ratnapura, destroyed the church and the Portuguese Fort at Ratnapura and built a temple (Maha Saman Devalaya) on the site. It is believed that the current temple is the temple built by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe.
There are two platforms here. The lower platform is gained through two vahalkadas on the east and the south. A flight of steps on the eastern side provides access from the lower platform to the upper platform. Prakara walls around the platform are clad at top with tiles. Opposite the flight of steps leading to the upper terrace is the santi maduwa of the devala, which is a pillared structure provided with dwarfs on either side. Openings are provided on this dwarf wall for obtaining access to the image house on the north and to the Pattini Devala on the south. The dogge has wooden posts.
The three storied structure at the end of the digge is known as the palace. To one who looks at it from afar, the palace looks like a dagoba. The vihara here is built on a high stereobate and is surrounded by a varandas. It has ancient paintings. There is an ancient bo-tree south of the flight of steps leading to the upper terrace. In the devala premises is a sculptured stone of the Potuguese period which portrays the the Portuguese General Simao Pinnao with brandished sword trampling a Sinhalese soldier. On the slab is a Portuguese instription which is a short description of the Portuguese general.