The history of the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara dates back to the kingdom of Kotte. The temple has been formally recognized by the government as an archaeological site in Sri Lanka and it was declared under the Government Gazette No 1811 of 17th May 2013. During the reign of King Parakumba VI (1415-1467) the royal patronage was commenced .. The King built the temple close to his royal palace to serve the needs of the Sanghagh community.
When the Dutch were in the country they completely destroyed the Kotte Devalaya. In 1813, this ancient temple was renovated by the Dharma Keerthi Sri Buddura Rakkitha Tera of Pilani. However, most of the structures and artifacts of the original temple have been destroyed by foreigners and only a few remains remain. The ruins of the present stupa, parts of the Kataragama Devalaya and several stone pillars are said to have been left in the temple premises.
Another important artifact of the temple is the Kabok Tunnel in the Ananda Shastra of Kotte. There are three tunnel openings. One door leads to the palace and another door to guard against enemy attacks. Significantly, in the past, the entrance to the tunnel was decorated with a dragon thorana. The outline of the decorations was still on the doorstep. It is said that another tunnel was involved. The queen and her attendants were able to safely reach the nearby temples.
There are many ancient paintings in the temple, a portrait of a Portuguese Mudliyar or soldier in the image of the old ‘Thevalej’, a shirt with bronze buttons, a sarong and a hat. One of the wall paintings shows this Portuguese man dancing next to a bird and a devil, and another pointing out something muddy. Paintings gradually fade away. It gives several color markers. However, it is now in black and white colors. The moonstone or moonstone of the temple is decorated with swans, horses, elephants and leaves. The center of the moonstone is decorated with colorful glass beads to give the effect of the seeds of the lotus flower.It is believed to be the idol shrine with the Buddha of Kotte Temple built by King Parakumba VI and the Devalaya in front of it. Apart from that, the temple is described in the Kotte era poetry literature (Sandesha Kavya).
The Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya has two chambers and the walls of the inner chamber are decorated with frescoes from the Kandyan era. The outer chamber seems to have been recently built with modern murals. Inside, the chamber has two entrances, framed by sculptures of dragons. A picture of Queen Victoria with two lions in a picture framed above the door on the right.
Every year the Kotte Vihara Perera (Perahera) is held to commemorate and honor the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Tooth of the Buddha, as the Kotte Kingdom once inhabited the Sacred Tooth Relic. Perehera was first founded by King Parakumba VI in 1415. After the collapse of the Kotte Kingdom, the Perahera ceased functioning and was restarted in 1901.