Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. have been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Kanniya Thermal Springs and Archaeological Ruins

Kanniya hot water wells
Kanniya Thermal Springs (or Kanniya hot water wells) are located in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

Hot water springs
Commonly, thermal springs in the world are associated with volcanic terrain but the hot springs located in Sri Lanka are said to be not related to volcanic activities as the island is not in an active volcanic or tectonic region (Premasiri et al., 2006). The waters can get heat either from subsurface heat sources such as large bodies of hot rocks or through deep percolation under the geochemical gradient of the earth (Adikaram & Dharmagunawardhane, 2013). If these waters find weak structural discontinuities leading upward they rise to the surface and emerge as naturally discharging hot water springs.

Kanniya springs
The Kanniya hot springs are located close to the boundary between Highland-Vijayan lithologic complexes consisting mainly of crystalline metamorphic rocks (Premasiri et al., 2006). Seven out flowing hot water wells, each with varying temperature, are situated close to each other at the site. The average temperature of Kanniya springs is said to be 42 °C (Premasiri et al., 2006).

Archaeological significance
The Kanniya hot water wells are situated in a Buddhist monastery complex functioned during the Anuradhapura Period (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.). Structural ruins of an ancient Stupa and an image house which are belonging to the 2-3 centuries A.D. have been found from the site (Jayasinghe, 2019). Also, many Buddhist ruins including "Siri Pathul Gal" (Buddha's foot prints), "Yupa Gal", broken images and pottery pieces have been discovered by exploratory excavations done at the site (Jayasinghe, 2019)

Kanniya hot water spring fragmentary inscription
A broken slab containing a later-Brahmi inscription was found by archaeologists from the Kanniya hot water wells premises.
Period: 2-3 centuries A.D.
Scripts: Later Brahmi
Transcript: "(1)...Maharaja Kujaviya...(2)...Marudaviya ha Bojiya(pathi)...(3)...Bojiyapathi ha cha pala...(4)...????...(5)...Me Ethaka Thanahi...(6)...Sagahaya Dini"
Content: The water tax received from near by tanks (such as) Kuruviya, Marudaviya, Palaweva was given to Sangha (Buddhist monks) by the king (the name is not in the preserved portion).
Reference: Jayasinghe, 2019.
A protected site
Seven hot water wells located in the vicinity of Chaithya mound and other building ruins in Kanniya village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 243/P, Kanniya in the Kadawath Sathara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 September 2011.  

The Kanniya hot water wells site, according to local Hindus, is a sacred Saiva site and its history is connected with King Ravana, a mythical figure found in the Indian epic Ramayana. However, the identification of this site as a Buddhist monastery complex triggered a religious tension between the local Hindu and Buddhist devotees.

1) Sri Lankan Hot Bath by Annette 777 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1) Adikaram, A.M.N.M., Dharmagunawardhane, H.A., 2013. Diurnal temperature variations in thermal water springs: A case study at Mahaoya thermal spring cluster, Sri Lanka.
2) Jayasinghe, P., 2019. Kanniya unuwathura lin parishraye puravidyathmaka smaraka sanrakshanayata piyawara gene (In Sinhala). Dayada newsletter. Vol.13. July 2019. Department of Archaeology.  p.2.
3) Premasiri, H.M.R., Wijeyesekera, D.S., Weerawarnakula, S. and Puswewala, U.G.A., 2006. Formation of Hot Water Springs in Sri Lanka. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. p.7.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1723. 9 September 2011. p.683.

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This page was last updated on 18 November 2019

Sri Parakramabahu Raja Maha Viharaya

The Bodhi-tree at Kudumirissa Viharaya
Sri Parakramabahu Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Kudumirissa Viharaya or Amunugoda Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Amunugoda in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

During the reign of King Parakramabahu VIII (1490-1509 A.D.), many Buddhist temples were built around the country. Jayapala Deva Pathiraja, a minister of the king is also engaged in establishing Buddhist temples in several places on the island. The Kossinna Raja Maha Viharaya in Gampaha District is believed to be a such temple established by Jayapala Deva Pathiraja (Chandananda Thera, 2009). 

"Kossinna" is a nearby village of the present Kudumirissa temple. The name, Kossinna is thought to have been evolved from "Koswinna" meaning a grove of Jack trees (Gunasekara, 1887). According to popular beliefs, Jayapala Deva Pathiraja had removed a Madel forest that existed in the present temple area and grown a grove of Jack trees there (Chandananda Thera, 2009). He constructed a complete Buddhist temple (present Kossinna Viharaya) at a high ground within this grove and invited King Parakramabahu VIII to bestow it to Buddhist monks. The king who came for the bestowal ceremony ("Vihara Puja") planted a Bodhi-tree at the place where the present Kudumirissa Viharaya stands (Chandananda Thera, 2009) and established a rock inscription at the same site to declare a royal decree.

Kudumirissa Inscription of Vira Parakramabahu VIII
The inscription which containing 42 lines has been inscribed on a natural rock lies near the temple image house. It records the confirmation by Siri Sangabo Sri Parakramabahu of Kotte of an endowment of certain lands granted by his royal father for the benefit of certain Brahmins (Gunasekara, 1887).

Kudumirissa Inscription
Reign : Parakramabahu VIII (1490–1509 A.D.)
Language & Script : Sinhala
Transcript :   Sri    Lankadhipath    Parakrama-
-bhujassuryanvayalankratirya             cheham
bhavato      wachassrinuta      mebhumiswara
Translation : I,   Parakrama   Bahu,   supreme 
lord of  the  illustrious  Lanka,  the  ornament 
of  the  Solar  race,  make  my  request to you,
princes, who will......>>
Reference : Rohanadeera, 2007
Kudumirissa rock inscription
Near to the Kudumirissa inscription is another epigraph written with modern Sinhala scripts. It records about a grant made to the temple by a lady devotee named "Kapu Upasaka Amma".
Transcript: "Me Viharayata Kapu Upasaka Amma Ru. 40k Dunna"
Translation: Rs.40 was given to this temple by Kapu Upaska Amma

An inscription at Kudumirissa temple The Stupa at Kudumirissa temple
1) Chandananda Thera, R., 2009. Siyanepuren Siyaratata Abhimanayak Vu Yatawathu Vehera Ha Kossini Sanga Parapura (In Sinhala). Abhisthava. pp.XLIII-LI.
2) Gunasekara, M. B., 1887. Three Sinhalese Inscriptions: Text, transliteration, translation and notes#Inscription at Kudumirisa. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol. X. No. 34. pp. 95-102.
3) Rohanadeera, M., 2007. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon. Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-64-3. pp.79-88.

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This page was last updated on 17 November 2019

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Nelum Pokuna, Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa Lotus Pond
The Nelum Pokuna (lit: the Lotus Pond/Lotus Bath) is an old pond situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The pond which is referred to in chronicles by the name "Paduma-nahana-kotthaka" (Ray, 1960; Wikramagamage, 2004) is located within the Jetavanarama monastery premises built by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.). The chronicle Mahawamsa states that King Parakramabahu built eight ponds of stone to "cleanse the outward impurity of the monks" (Jayasuriya, 2016). Ruins of several ponds similar in structure to Nelum Pokuna (a smaller lotus-bath and the remains of a bath designated "Guha-nahana-kotthaka") have been found within the limits of Jetavanarama monastery (Ray, 1960).

 The circular stepped Nelum Pokuna pond has been built in the form of a full-blown lotus flower (Wikramagamage, 2004). The tiers indicating the petals of the lotus gradually became small as they go down of the pond. The filling method of the pond is not known (Wikramagamage, 2004).

1) Lotosbad polonnaruwa 2017-10-17 (2) by Z thomas is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.85.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.600.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.225.

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Eth Pokuna

Eth Pokuna
The Eth Pokuna (lit: the Elephant Pond) is an old pond situated in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Located to the south-west of the Abhayagiri Stupa in close proximity of Lankarama Viharaya, the pond is considered as one of the largest man-made ponds in the island (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The pond which is believed to be the ancient Maspotha Pokuna (1st-century B.C.-11 century A.D.) is presently called "Eth Pokuna" (the Elephant Pond) because of its gigantic size. It is said to have been built to store water for the usage of Buddhist monks who were living in the monastic complex of Abhayagiriya.

The rectangular-shaped pond is 159 m long, 53 m wide and 10 m deep. The size is said to be six times larger than the size of the Olympic swimming pool. Several flight of steps at all four sides provide access to the bottom of the pond.

The water to this pond had been supplied from nearby reservoirs through underground conduits and one of which functions even today (Jayasuriya, 2016). The Gamani Wewa (Perumiyankulam tank) located to the north supplies water to the pond through a conduit when it is over-flowing (Wikramagamage, 2004). The water which comes through conduits first flows into a cistern sluice ("Bisokotuwa") located in the southwest corner of the pond and after slowing the speed, the water then flows to the pond along a stone-made drain. The existing sluice suggests that the water of Eth Pokuna may have been distributed to other ponds in the vicinity (Jayasuriya, 2016). A channel taking the water out of the pond has also been discovered to the south of the pond at the bottom to the east (Wikramagamage, 2004).

1) Eth Pokuna in Anuradhapuraya by Kurun is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.25.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.105.

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This page was last updated on 16 November 2019

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Surathali Ella Falls

Surathali Ella Fall
Surathali Ella Falls is a waterfall cascading in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. The fall is situated on the roadside of the Balangoda-Beragala road (A4 road) approximately 9.5 km distance from the Belihuloya town.

The fall is about 50 m tall and mainly has two segments. It is named as “Surathali Ella” after the film that was shot in that area.   

1) Walhaputenna, Sri Lanka - panoramio by sanjana.sudam is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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This page was last updated on 14 November 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Kirindi Ella Falls

Kirindi Ella Falls
Kirindi Ella Falls is a waterfall cascading in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. Situated in Kuttapitiya village, the fall can be reached by traveling along the Pelmadulla-Kuttapitiya road about 7.8 km distance from the Pelmadulla bus stand.

The fall
The waterfall originates from Kirindi Ela, a stream flowing from the Kuttapitiya Kanda mountain (940 m). The fall is considered to be the 7th tallest waterfalls in Sri Lanka with a drop of 116 m (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Kirindi Ella Falls Kirindi Ella Falls
1) Kirindi Ella Water fall- Rathnapura District, Sri Lanka 08 by WMKKalhara is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) Kirindi Ella Water fall- Rathnapura District, Sri Lanka 07 by WMKKalhara is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
3) Kirindi Ella Water fall- Rathnapura District, Sri Lanka 03 by WMKKalhara is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.24.

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Brahmana Ella Falls, Lankagama

Brahmana Ella Falls
Brahmana Ella Falls is a waterfall situated near the border of the Sinharaja Forest in Galle District, Sri Lanka. The fall can be reached via Sinharaja Lankagama entrance.  

The fall
The fall is 31 m tall and originates from Hariyawa stream (හැරියාව දොල), a tributary of Gin Ganga river. It occurs 237 meters above the sea level.

1) Brahmana Ella by Kalindu ashirwada is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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Udawattakele Forest Reserve, Kandy

Udawattakele Forest Reserve
Udawattakele Forest Reserve (also known as Udawattakele Royal Forest Park) is a historic forest located behind the premises of the sacred Temple of Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka. During the Kandyan Kingdom, the Udawattakele forest was considered as a part of the palace premises and the ruling kings and their royal families used this forest as a pleasure garden. Presently, the forest is protected under the authority of the Forest Department (Weerakoon, 2015).

During the reign of King Gajabahu I (114-136 A.D.), there was no human settlements in Kandy and was covered by thick forest. The king ordered his nephew Siriwardana Seneviratna to change a part of the existing land use in Kandy and to build a village there. More than 1000 years later, King Panditha Parakramabahu (1302-1326 A.D.) who reigned in Kurunegala took measures to settle people in the area. During the mid-14th century, King Wikramabahu III who ruled from 1357 to 1374, established his kingdom in Kandy and named it "Senkadagala" in remembrance of the Brahmin named "Senkanda" who lived in a rock cave in Udawattakele forest during the reign of King Gajabahu I at Anuradhapura.

The Kingdom of Kandy (1469-1815 A.D.) was the last independent monarchy of Sri Lanka. King Senasammata Vikramabahu (1469-1511 A.D.), the first king of the Kandy Kingdom, built his palace within this forest and named it as Uda-wasala-watta. After that, the forest was exclusively utilized by the members of the royal family for aesthetic purposes. As a result of that, the rulers declared the forest area as a restricted zone for the general public. During the royal era, the forest was the main source of firewood to the palace.

Later on, the condition of the forest became deteriorate due to the felling down of Kitul-trees and other edible foliage for the elephants of Kandy Perahera pageant. It was further intensified during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when a large amount of timber was extracted to supply firewood for the adjoining British Governor's residence (Nyanatusita & Dissanayake, 2013).

In 1856, the then government declared the Udawattakele as a forest reserve and in 1938, it was declared again as a sanctuary (Nyanatusita & Dissanayake, 2013; Weerakoon, 2015). In 1940, several valuable trees such as Jack and Mahogani were planted in this site by the Department of Forest (Weerakoon, 2015).

Udawatta Kele belongs to the mid-country wet zone and is situated about 635 m above the mean sea level (Abeysekara et al., 2018; Weerakoon, 2015). Located behind the sacred Temple of Tooth premises, the forest stretches in an area about 113 hectares [(279.229 acres) Abeysekara et al., 2018]. The forest receives an annual mean rainfall of more than 2000 mm (Abeysekara et al., 2018).

A large number of endemic flora [(about 460 plant species including 135 tree species, 11 liana species) Wedathanthri & Hitinayake, 1999] and fauna species are found in the forest reserve. Three vegetation strata namely the canopy (dominant), sub-canopy and underground layers are identified in the forest reserve.

The Udawattakele forest is surrounded by a highly urbanized area. Therefore, the forest is considered very important in controlling the pollution of Kandy city. It also acts as the catchment area for the supply of water to the Kandy city. 

Important locations within the forest
The Maithree Lena, Udawattakele
The Senkanda cave
A rock cave which is said to be used by an ascetic named Senkanda is found in the Udawattakele forest. According to "Asigiri Upatha", this Brahmin was practicing asceticism in a cave in Maya rata during the reign of King Gajabahu I at Anuradhapura (Karunaratna, 1986). Besides the Senkanda cave, two rock caves (named Chitta Visuddhi Lena and Maithree Lena) used by Buddhist monks are also found in the forest.

The Senkanda cave has been designated as an archaeological protected monument by the government gazette notification no.23 on 1 October 1972.

Lady Horton street
This is the first street constructed within the forest. It was built in 1834 by Horton, the then Governor of Ceylon (1831-1837), in memory of his beloved wife (Karunaratna, 1986). 

Kodimale Kanda mountain
This is the highest point (1800 feet from the mean sea level) situated within the forest. This spot is believed to be used to hoist the national flag and religious flags during ancient times. A giant endemic liana called "Pus Wela" (Entada pusaetha) which is said to be about 200-300 years old can be seen near Kodimale Kanda.

Garrison Cemetery
The Garrison Cemetery
The dead bodies of soldiers and generals in the British army who died in Sri Lanka have been buried in this cemetery. 
The Marble seat
A flat marble rock which had been used as a resting place was in the forest (Karunaratna, 1986), but today is at the Sri Dalada Sylvan as an altar for offering flowers.

The pond
The pond which is found in the forest, during the royal era, was used by the queen and other members of the royal family (Karunaratna, 1986). The earliest reference to the pond is found with regard to an expenditure incurred in August 1824 (Karunaratna, 1986). It is presently encircled by a narrow lane known as Lover's Walk.

Ironwood forest
A patch of forest consisting of Na-trees (ironwood: Mesua ferrea) is found within the Udawattakele forest. These trees are believed to be planted in 1926.

1) This image (Dalada Maligawa Sri Lanka B) has been released into the public domain by its creator, Wouterhagens.
2) Maitri Lena by Nyanatusita is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
3) Garrison Cemetery by Nyanatusita is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

1) Abeysekara, A.M.S.K., Yatigammana, S.K. and Premakantha, K.T., 2018. Biomass and Carbon Stock Estimation of Udawattakele Forest Reserve in Kandy District of Sri Lanka. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment, 8(2). pp.13-28.
2) Karunaratna N., 1986. Udavattakälē: The Forbidden Forest of the Kings of Kandy, Colombo: Department of National Archives. pp.1,91,97,103.
3)  Nyanatusita, B. and Dissanayake, R., 2013. Udawattakele:“A Sanctuary Destroyed From Within”. Loris, Journal of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka, 26(5), pp.39-40.
4) Wedathanthri, H.P. and Hitinayake, H.M.G.S.B., 1999. Invasive behaviour of Myroxylon balsamum at Udawattakele forest reserve. In Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium. p.14.
5) Weerakoon, W.M.B.M.B., 2015. Avifaunal diversity of Udawattakele, an urban forest reserve in the Kandy District. Sciscitator 2015 / Volume 2. pp. 19-21.

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This page was last updated on 12 November 2019