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.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Maritime and Naval History Museum, Trincomalee

Maritime and Naval History Museum, Trincomalee
The Maritime and Naval History Museum is situated in Trincomalee town, Sri Lanka.

History
The museum has been established in an old building used as the official residence of the Dutch Naval Commissioner in Trincomalee.

Official residence of the Dutch Naval Commissioner
During the period between 1640 – 1796, most of the coastal areas in Sri Lanka were controlled by the Dutch. The Dutch constructed this two storey building following their traditional architectural practices, in Trincomalee during this period to be used as the official residence of the Naval Commissioner. After the British assumed the control over the all island (1795-1948 A.D.), they used this building as the official residence of a civil service official designated as a commissioner.

Subsequently, the building has been unused and the government of Sri Lanka renovated the building to be used as the Trincomalee British Center (the Kachcheri). However, the Kachcheri was brought to two buildings located inside the Fort Fredrick and as a result of that this building once again became a deserted place. When Ranasingha Premadasa became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (1977-1986), he tried to renovate this building but the efforts carried out during this period were not successful.

Later, this building and the land was handed over to Eastern University to be used as a university property. The university used this building as a canteen and started to built a new lecture hall in the premises. However, the war between LTTE (a rebel group designated as a terrorist organization) and the government forces in the area resulted the end of the university activities and therefore, this building and the land again became an uninhabited place. During this war season, the building was swallowed and ruined by the wild.

Once again, in 2008, with financial assistance from the government of the Netherlands, the Sri Lanka Navy under the guidance of the Archaeological Department started the restoration work of the building. The conserved building was finally converted to a museum and declared open to the public on 3 February 2013, by the then Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksha.

Museum
The museum preserve a collection of items that explaining the country's maritime history, marine biodiversity and the history of the local Naval affairs.

References
1) Information boards at the Maritime and Naval History Museum, Trincomalee.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda

Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda
Sri Sugathanandanarama Purana Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Pahala Yagoda in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Image house
Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda
The image house is the main attraction of this temple with an archaeological significance. It consists of an inner shrine and a narrow ambulatory around it. The inside walls of the inner shrine is adorned with the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Inside the image house is a seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha. Two standing statues of Vishnu and Kataragama with Makara Thoranas (dragon arches) are found facing each other at both left and right walls. The Sath Sathiya (Seven weeks after the enlightenment) has been drawn on the upper section of the inner side of the entrance wall. The outer walls of the inner shrine contain no sculptures or murals.

The image house has been conserved by the Archaeological Department on 3 August 2011.

A protected site
The image house situated in Pahalayagoda Sugathanandanarama Vihara premises in Pahala Yagoda Grama Niladhari Wasama of the Gampaha Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda Sri Sugathanandanarama Viharaya, Pahala Yagoda
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala

Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala
Kaballelena Purana Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist cave temple situated in the village of Wellagala in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

Folklore
Locals connect the history of this temple with King Valagamba (103 B.C., 89-77 B.C.). They believe that the caves of this place had been used by the king when he was in hiding, seeking refuge from the threats by Cola invaders who were at the time ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom (103-89 B.C.).

Etymology
The name of this temple, Kaballelena is thought to have been evolved from the name of God Suniyam (Suniyam Deviyo), the main deity of Kaballelena Viharaya. Suniyam Deviyo is considered as a powerful deity who is capable of placing curses on other people. The god is also called as Kaballe Devi by the locals and hence it is believed that the current name of this temple has come into the parlance through the local name of Suniyam Deviyo.

Cave temple
Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala
The main cave which shelters the Len Viharaya (cave temple) is located at the middle of the rocky mountain. A Bodhi-tree, the Suniya Devalaya and several other rock caves with drip-ledges are also found on the same terrace.

The cave temple is the main attraction of this temple with an archaeological significance. It is divided into two shrines, viz: the Stupa cave and the cave of reclining Buddha. The two shrines have been divided from each other and can be entered separately through a small antechamber. The Stupa cave is at the left corner of the main cave and it contains a small size Stupa and murals & sculptures belonging to a modern period. A large reclining Buddha statue along with other sculptures and paintings are found in the cave of reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha statue is approximately 50 feet long and said to be one of the longest statues in the country. The inner surface of this cave is covered with an interesting collection of murals belonging to the Kandyan tradition. The paintings chiefly depict various Jathaka stories and life events related to the Lord Buddha. A decayed statue of Buddha made out of timber is also found placed in the cave temple.

A protected site
The cave temple (and paintings) of Kabellelena Vihara situated in Wellagala village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Wariyapola is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 8 March 1974.

Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala Kaballelena Raja Maha Viharaya, Wellagala
References
1) The Gazette notification. No: 102. 8 March 1974.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Nainativu Tamil Slab Inscription of Parakramabahu I

Nainativu Inscription of Parakramabahu I A Tamil slab inscription containing an edict by King Parakramabahu I (1123-1186 A.D.) has been discovered from the island of Nainativu (or present Nagadeepa/Nagadipa) in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. The epigraph is considered as an important archaeological heritage found from Jaffna Peninsula as it reveals about the commercial activities that existed in the time of King Parakramabahu I (Dias et al., 2016; Indrapala, 1963).

Discovery
The slab was found at the entrance of the famous Hindu shrine, Nagapooshani Amman Temple in Nainativu island (Indrapala, 1963). At the time of its discovery, a portion of the slab had been broken off and built into the wall of the Hindu temple (Indrapala, 1963).

Presently, the inscription is placed in the museum of Nagapooshani Amman temple.

Inscription
The inscription has been engraved on both sides of a stone slab of about 4 feet tall and 2 feet 5 inches wide. The obverse side which contains the first part of the record has been completely mutilated and obliterated by the sharpening of metal implements on it by the temple laborers (Indrapala, 1963). However, the reverse side is free from mutilations and contains details about the purpose of the edict and the name of the ruler who issued it (Indrapala, 1963). Without the portion of the obverse side and the last few lines of the reverse side, the inscription has 23 lines survived (Indrapala, 1963).

The inscription has been written in Tamil scripts interspersed with Grantha belonging to about the 12 century A.D. (Indrapala, 1963). The last two lines as well as the main portion on the obverse side of the inscription, according to Indrapala, are in Grantha characters (Indrapala, 1963). The main language used in the inscription is medieval Tamil but contains few lines written in Sanskrit language (Indrapala, 1963).

Content
As mentioned in the inscription itself, it has been indited by Deva Parakramabhujo, Sakala Simhala Cakravartti, which means, King Parakramabahu, the overlord of all Sinhalas (Dias et al., 2016). According to Indrapala, this is the only known Tamil inscription erected by this great Sinhalese monarch (Indrapala, 1963).

The interpretations for the Nainativu inscription by K. Indrapala (1963) are given below,

  • Nainativu Tamil slab inscription

    Reign : Parakramabahu I (1123-1186 A.D.)
    Period : 12th century A.D.
    Script  : Tamil & Grantha
    Language : Medieval Tamil & Sanskrit

    Reference : Indrapala, 1963. p.68-70.


    Transcript: ..nankal..c..uratturai (yil) paratecikal vantu irukka venumenrum avakkal raksaippata .....>>
    Translation: ..we..that foreigners should come and stay in Uratturai, that they should be protected .....>>


The inscription contains certain trade regulations enacted by the king. It proclaims that the foreigners who disembark from their ships at Uratturai port (present Kayts) will be remained under the security of the state. It further says that the foreigners who disembark from any other port should be assembled in the Uratturai port premises and the ships those suffer wreckage in transit through the waters of port will be charged based on the type of the cargo [wrecked vessels which carrying elephants and horses for the king will be charged a forth share of their cargo but the vessels carrying ordinary merchandise will have to pay a half share to the state treasury  (Dias et al., 2016; Indrapala, 1963)].

It is further revealed by this inscription that, this decree was written on a granite slab as well as on a copper plate.

Uratturai
Uratturai is the Tamil name used to identify the island of Kayts. The earliest literary references to this place is found in several Sri Lankan chronicles such as Pujavaliya, Rajavaliya and Culawamsa (Indrapala, 1963). Karthigesu Indrapala, a Sri Lankan Tamil scholar, has described how the Tamil name Uratturai was evolved from its early names;
In Pali it was known as Sukaratittha while the Sinhalese form was Huratota or Uratota. With the settlement of the Tamils in this area it became Tamilised. In Tamil while the first element of the Sinhalese name was retained, the second element came to be replaced by a Tamil synonym. Thus, it became Uratturai (turai=tota). It appears in this hybrid form in the inscription of Rajadhiraja II and in our record. This form has come down to modern times and is still used in popular parlance. But scholars have distorted its form and given it a pure Tamil look in its written form. This is how it has come to be written ar Ur-kavar-rurai. The Hollanders gave it a Dutch name, Kayts, by which it is still known in English.
Citation : Indrapala, 1963. p. 68.
A protected monument
The Nagadeepa inscription situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Nainathiw bearing No. J-34 in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Velenai Northern Island is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.175-177,202.
2) Indrapala, K., 1963. The Nainativu Tamil Inscription of Parakramabahu I. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XXI; No, I. University of Ceylon. Peradeniya. pp.63-70.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.129.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nagapooshani Amman Temple, Nainativu

Nagapooshani Amman Temple, Nainativu
Nagapooshani Amman Temple/ Kovil is a famous Hindu shrine situated on the island of Nainativu (or Nagadeepa/ Nagadipa) in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvathi who is known as Nagapooshani or Buwaneshwari and her consort, Shiva who is named as Rakshseshwar or Nayinar (Hewapaththuwa et al., 2018).

Presently, the temple is venerated by the people of all religions, mainly by the Hindu devotees.

History
Nagadeepa
Nagadeepa is referred to as Nainativu or Manipallavam or Maninaga island as well (Dias et al., 2016). The place is mentioned in several early Sri Lankan chronicles such as Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa and in ancient Tamil Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu (India) such as Manimekalai and Kundalakesi (Dias et al., 2016; Hewapaththuwa et al., 2018).

Literary mentions
The temple is mentioned in Shakthi Peetha Stotram written by Adi Shankarcharya, an 8th-century Hindu philosopher. Therefore, this temple is considered today as one of the prominent 64 Shakti Peethas (one of the 64 mighty places of the goddess Ambhal) in the Indian sub-continent (Hewapaththuwa et al., 2018).

Legends
Nagapooshani Amman TempleAccording to Hindu mythology, the Nagapooshani Amman temple is standing today on the site where the anklet of Mata Suti was fallen when her dead body was cut into 52 parts by Vishnu (Hewapaththuwa et al., 2018).

According to another legend, a merchant who was sailing through the sea had seen an eagle preventing the way of a cobra swimming across the sea towards Nainativu with a lotus flower in its mouth, for the worship of Bhuvaneswari Amman. The merchant asked the eagle to let the cobra go on its way without any harm. The eagle agreed on the merchant's request but asked him to build a beautiful temple for Sri Bhuvaneshwari Amman on the island of Nainathivu if he wanted to let the cobra go free. The merchant agreed on that request and built a beautiful temple accordingly (Dias et al., 2016; Hewapaththuwa et al., 2018).

Destruction
The temple was looted and destroyed in 1625, after the Portuguese assumed control over the Jaffna peninsula (Dias et al., 2016). Subsequently, a small temple was erected at the same site by a person named Ramalingam Ramachandranal of Pattar community (Dias et al., 2016). The temple confronted another threat of destruction by Dutch but it was prevented by Kadirithambi, a Pattar, by convincing them that the temple is not a Hindu shrine but a church of Mother Goddess (Dias et al., 2016). 

Modern temple
The temple was restored in 1778, and its East-Gopuram was constructed in 1951.

Nainativu Inscription of Parakramabahu I
A stone slab containing a Tamil inscription has been identified in the premises of the Nagapooshani Amman temple (Dias et al., 2016; Indrapala, 1963). This epigraph is considered as an important archaeological heritage found from Jaffna Peninsula as it reveals about the commercial activities that existed in the ancient times (Dias et al., 2016).

The slab is about 4 feet in height and 2 feet 5 inches in width. It has been written in Tamil scripts interspersed with Grantha (Indrapala, 1963). As mentioned in the inscription itself, it has been indited by King Parakramabahu I (1123-1186 A.D.) to proclaim that the foreigners who disembark from their ships at Uratturai port (present Kayts) will be remained under the security of the state. It further says that the foreigners who disembark from any other port should be assembled in the Uratturai port premises and the ships those suffer wreckage in transit through the waters of port will be charged based on the type of the cargo by the state treasury  (Dias et al., 2016; Indrapala, 1963).

Presently the slab is placed in the museum of Nagapooshani Amman temple with other artifacts and ancient coins discovered in the temple premises (Dias et al., 2016).

Nagapooshani Amman Temple, Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple, Nainativu
References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.163,201-202,209-210.
2) Hewapaththuwa, H.P.M., Rupasinghe, R.M.W.K.R. and Herath, H.M.A.S., 2018. Connection of Valluvar Community to Naaga and Shakthi Worship Related to Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple: A Historical Review. pp.85-87.
3) Indrapala, K., 1963. The Nainativu Tamil Inscription of Parakramabahu I. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XXI; No, I. University of Ceylon. Peradeniya. pp.63-70.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Archaeological Museum of Kotte

Archaeological Museum of Kotte
The Archaeological Museum of Kotte, Sri Lanka is one of the regional museums administered by the Department of Archaeology. It is located at Bungalow Junction at a distance of 5 km from the Borella bus stop. The museum contains artifacts mainly discovered from Kotte and the surrounding area. 

History
The museum has been established on the residence of the famous politician Mr. E. W. Perera (1875 - 1953). In 1992, the residence was converted to E. W. Perera Memorial Museum and declared open for the public in 1995.

Museum
Artifacts which are being exhibited include ancient monuments, photographs, various flags, swords, knives, guns, statues, coins, ceramic ware, clay vessels, as well as a number of antiquities discovered in excavations and during the construction of buildings in the Kotte and vicinity area. In addition to them, a collection of items used by Mr. E. W. Perera and items donated and purchased by Mr. Douglas Ranasinghe are also available in the museum.

Attribution
1) Kotte Museum by L Manju is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

References
1) Official website of Archaeological Department : Museums#Kotte

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This page was last updated on 8 September 2019

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Archaeological Museum of Dedigama

Archaeological Museum of Dedigama
The Archaeological Museum of Dedigama, Sri Lanka is one of the regional museums administered by the Department of Archaeology. The museum can be reached by traveling along the Nelundeniya - Galapitamada road (B540) about a 4 km distance from the Nelundeniya junction.

History
Established in 1954, the Dedigama museum is said to be the first regional museum of the Archaeological Department.

Museum
The museum preserve a collection of items discovered mainly from the excavations done at Dedigama Kota Vehera. Artifacts that are being exhibited include stone creations/tools, inscriptions, metal creations, and statues, etc.. In addition to them, antiquities belonging to the reign of Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) which were received from certain places such as Panduwasnuwara and Kegalle are also exhibited in the museum.

References
1) Official website of Archaeological Department : Museums#Dedigama

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Archaeological Museum of Jaffna

Archaeological Museum of Jaffna
The Archaeological Museum of Jaffna, Sri Lanka is one of the regional museums administered by the Department of Archaeology. It is situated on the wayside of Navalar road behind the Navalar Memorial Cultural Hall. The museum contains a large collection of artifacts mainly related to Buddhism and Hinduism.

History
The museum has been established on a land originally owned by the famous Tamil scholar and Philosopher Mr. Arumuka Navalar [(1822-1879) Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). The land was gifted to the Department of Archaeology in 1975, by the Arumuka Navalar Foundation. Under the supervision of Dr. Roland Silva, the then Archaeological Commissioner, the construction of the museum building was commenced on this land in 1976 (Wijebandara, 2014).

Museum
The museum preserve a large collection of items and implements created/used by people of Jaffna centered Northern Province. Antiquities with archaeological and historical value which were received from various places and donations are exhibited in the museum.

Artifacts which are being exhibited include stone creations, inscriptions, ivory objects, metal and timber creations, skeletons, as well as a number of antiquities discovered from nearby archaeological sites such as Jaffna Fort, Kadurugoda Viharaya and Puttur (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). In addition to them, a large number of coins belonging to different periods is also available in the museum.

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.205-206.
2) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.120-122.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019