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.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sun Moon Carved Rock, Ganemulla

Sun Moon carved rock at Ganemulla
The Sun Moon Carved Rock (also known as Ira Handa Gala) is a rock with the marks of the Sun & Moon situated near Ganemulla town in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. Located near the Ulukade junction the site can be reached by traveling along the Kadawatha - Ganemulla road about 650 m distance from the Ganemulla bus stand.

Ira Handa Gala, Ganemulla
According to local beliefs, this rock has been inscribed during the 15th century A.D. to denote a boundary. Presently, it is situated in a non-cultivating fallow land.

A protected monument
The Sun & Moon carved boundary rock situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Galahitiyawa in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Gampaha is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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This page was last updated on 21 October 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Henarathgoda Old Railway Station

Henarathgoda Old Railway Station
Henarathgoda Railway Station (present name Gampaga Railway Station) is one of earliest railway stations in Sri Lanka. It is presently situated in the vicinity of Gampaha Railway Station in the middle of Gampaha town.

Henarathgoda Old Railway Station
In the 19th century, the British rulers commenced the railway service in Sri Lanka for planters to facilitate the transportation of their harvest from inland to the sea port located in Colombo (Kesavan et al., 2015). On 3 August 1858, the then Ceylon Governor, Henry George Ward (1855-1860 A.D.) commenced the construction of the first railway line in the country to be run between Colombo and Ambepussa (Abeysinghe, 2016). 

After the completion, the first train transportation was happened between Colombo and Ambepussa on 27 December 1864 (Abeysinghe, 2016). Besides the stations at Colombo (presently known as Colombo Terminus Station) and Ambepussa, three more stations at Mahara (present Ragama), Henarathgoda (present Gampaha) and Veyangoda were completed along the railway line in 1866 (CGR, 1964).

A protected monument
The Building that had accommodated the old Henerathgoda Railway Station in the Gampaha town situated within the region of 223 Medagama I, Grama Niladhari in the Gampaha Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 13 February 2009.

1) Abeysinghe, A.H.M.S.P., 2016. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ දුම්රිය කාර්මික පුරාවිද්‍යාව; නව මානයක් කරා රැගෙන යමු. Puraveda 2016.
2) CGR, 1964. Ceylon Government Railway : One hundred years, 1864-1964, Colombo. p.19.
3) Kesavan, R.A., Chandrakumar, C., Kulatunga, A.K., Gowrynathan, J., Rajapaksha, R.T.D., Senewiratne, R.K.G.D.M. and Laguleshwaran, D., 150 Years of Sri Lankan Railways: Evaluation of the Services from Employee and Customer Perspectives. International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering. Volume 5, Issue 5.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: No: 1589. 13 February 2009. p.192.

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Mangalagama Ambalama

The Mangalagama Ambalama is an old wayside rest in the village of Mangalagama in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Colombo - Kandy main road about 7.2 km distance from the Kegalle bus stand.

Mangalagama Ambalama
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were traveling to distant places. The Ambalama at Mangalagama is believed to have been built in the 18th century (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

The Ambalama building is rectangular in shape has been built by erecting sixteen pillars (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The roof is paved with flat clay tiles and supported by the twelve and four pillars fixed on the ground in two concentric tiers. Connecting the outer twelve pillars, a short wall goes around the structure. The pillar capitals are made of wood and decorated with Pekada carvings (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The four sided roof with elevated middle portion has a short ridge decorated with two clay pots. Some clay artifacts recovered from the Mangalagama Ambalama are presently on the display at the Archaeological Museum of Dedigama.

A protected monument
The Mangalagama Ambalama situated in Mangalagama village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Rambukkana is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 15 March 1974.

1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.169.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: No: 103. 15 March 1974.

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Deduru Oya Reservoir

Deduru Oya Reservoir
Deduru Oya Reservoir is a hydroelectric and irrigation reservoir situated in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka (Samarakoon et al., 2017).

Deduru Oya Reservoir project
The Deduru Oya project is a multipurpose water resource management project carried out by the Ministry of Irrigation (Mishra et al., 2017). The project mainly aimed to improve the livelihood of farmers by increasing the productivity of land by extending the Deduru Oya river water into more regions and to establish a hydro-electric power plant (Samarakoon et al., 2017; Sampath et al., 2014).

Deduru Oya river
Deduru Oya ReservoirOriginated from the western slopes of Kandy-Matale mountains, Deduru Oya is the fourth largest river in the country (Samarakoon et al., 2017). The dam which is an earth filled type, was constructed across the Deduru Oya river at about 300 m upstream of the existing Ridi Bendi Ella anicut (Mishra et al., 2017; Samarakoon et al., 2017). The 2.4 km long dam inundated about 2000 ha of land and had displaced more than 1100 families (Jayasiri et al., 2018; Mishra et al., 2017).

The completed reservoir was declared open on 22 November 2014 by the then President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

  • Reservoir data

    Length of bund : 2400 m
    Bund height (Ave.) : 17 m
    Capacity :  75x106 m3
    Full supply level : 70.79 m (M.S.L.)
    Area at full supply level : 1957 hectares
    High flood level : 71.32 m (M.S.L.)
    Bund top level : 73.68 m (M.S.L.)
    Catchment area : 1400 km2
    Command area : 12000 ha
  • Sluice & spill data

    No of channels : Two (left & right)
    Sill level : [65.1 m (left), 67.5 m (right) M.S.L.]
    Length of channel. : 44 km (left), 36.7 km (right)
    Discharge : 7 m3/s (left), 8.5 m3/s (right)
    Size of gate : 1.5x2.0 m 2 Nos (left), 1.7x2.0 m 2 Nos (right)
    Radial gate : 8.1x8.5 m 8 Nos
    Scour gate : 1.8x1.6 m 2 Nos
    Power house capacity : 1.5 M.W.

1) Jayasiri, M.M.J.G.C.N., Diyawadana, D.M.N., Samarakoon, S.M.L.D., Pathmarajah, S. and Dayawansa, N.D.K., 2018. A gendered analysis on adaptation to resettlement stress: case studies from Deduru Oya reservoir project in Sri Lanka. Tropical Agricultural Research, 29(4), pp.348-360.
2) Mishra, B.K., Herath, S., Sampath, D.S., Fukushi, K. and Weerakoon, S.B., 2017. Modeling water allocation options in Deduru Oya reservoir system, Sri Lanka. Sustainable Water Resources Management, 3(2), pp.181-191.
3) Samarakoon, S.M.L.D., Dayawansa, N.D.K. and Gunawardena, E.R.N., 2017. Land use changes resulting from construction of Deduru oya reservoir and its’ impacts on livelihood. Tropical Agricultural Research, 28(2). pp.162-174.
4) Sampath, D., Weerakoon, S., Mishra, B. and Herath, S., 2014. Analysis of the Diversion Requirements from the Deduru Oya Reservoir in Sri Lanka. International Journal of Surface and Groundwater Management Vol. 01, No. 02. pp. 74-76.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

St. Paul's Church, Kandy

St. Paul's Church, Kandy
St. Paul's Church is an Anglican church situated within the premises of Temple of Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

With the downfall of the Kandyan Kingdom (1469-1815 A.D.), Sri Lanka fell into the hands of the British empire in 1815, and survived as a colonial country till 1948. When the British rulers wanted to built a church in Kandy for Christians, the King of Great Britain, George III (1760-1820 A.D.) had advised them to built it near the Temple of Tooth, the Buddhist shrine which houses the Tooth Relic of Buddha (Rajapakse, 2016). 

Construction of a church near to the Temple of Tooth and the Audience Hall (the "Magul Maduwa") is said to be had made some allegations among the Buddhists, but the church authorities at the time had justified their decision by saying that the Christian judges who are responsible for the administration of justice have to take oaths before trials and therefore, a place like a church is needed for them to carry out their works (Abeywardana, 2004).

Construction work of the church was commenced on 16 March 1843, in a stretch of land called Alakolamaditta (Abeywardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The foundation stone of the church was laid by George Spencer, the then Bishop of Madras [(present Chennai in Tamil Nadu) Rajapakse, 2016]. Although, it was opened for the worship in 1846, the church was formally consecrated on 25 January 1853 (on St. Paul’s Day) as St. Paul’s Church, by the first Bishop of Colombo, James Chapman (Rajapakse, 2016). The church was altered and enlarged in 1878 and 1928 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

A school by the name of St. Paul's Collage was also established in 1879, in the church premises but it was shifted out in the beginning of the 1990's, when the land including the church was demarcated for the Kandy Sacred City and the Temple of Tooth. The moved school was re-established at Asgiriya in Kandy by the name of Wariyapola Sumangala Vidyalaya (Abeywardana, 2004).

The form of the original St. Paul's Church building differs from the present church building which is cruciform in shape (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Roughly, the building is 51.3 m long and 34.8 m wide (Rajapakse, 2016). In front of the building is a tower shape portico adorned with Gothic decorations. The square shaped tower which is topped with battlements is rising upward from the west part of the building. The entrance door is about 3 m wide and makes the access to the praying hall. The front screen of the praying hall which is known as "Rude Serwn Screen" is decorated with wooden frames and carvings of Gothic style. The west gallery of the church was rebuilt in 1953 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

The east window of St. Paul's Church which is believed to be the oldest stained glass window in Sri Lanka (Coningham & Lewer, 1999) is considered as an excellent work of art in stained glass. It was added to the church in 1874 by the widow of Laurence St. George Carey, a tea planter on Le Vallon Estate, Pupuressa. Events related to Jesus Christ such as Crucifixion, the Ascension, the Angel in the Tomb and the Nativity have been nicely depicted in separate frames of the window.

On 25 January 1998, LTTE rebels (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam: a militant group designated as a terrorist organization) exploded a massive truck bomb inside the Temple of the Tooth premises, killing about 17 people (Coningham & Lewer, 1999). The power of the bomb caused extensive damages to neighboring buildings including the St. Paul's Church (Coningham & Lewer, 1999)

A protected monument
The St. Paul's Church located at no.10 of Deva Veediya in Kandy town in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Gangawata Koralaya, is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 8 July 2005.

1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.48.
2) Coningham, R. and Lewer, N., 1999. Paradise Lost: the bombing of the Temple of the Tooth—a UNESCO World Heritage site in Sri Lanka. Antiquity, 73(282), pp.857-866.
3) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.131.
4) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.19-21.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1401. 8 July 2005.

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Kumara Pokuna

Kumara Pokuna
The Kumara Pokuna is a royal bath located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The great chronicle, Mahawamsa records this pond as "Sila Pokkharani" built by King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Ray, 1960]. Although, the site is located outside of the citadel it may have belonged to King Parakramabahu's royal park named "Nandana Uyana".

The pond which is built with a cruciform ground plan has been attractively finished with elegantly smoothed stone slabs. The pond is about 44 ft. long and 38 ft. wide at the surface level and its dimension is reducing toward the bottom of the pond (Ray, 1960). A flight of steps at the western side of the pond provides the access to the bath. The water which comes from the moat at the foot of the citadel wall reaches to the pond along an underground passage and falls into the pond through dragon-mouthed conduits fixed on the inner walls (Ray, 1960). The used water is drained off through a specific outlet which is controlled with a stone nail (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The ruins of the pavilion which are located on the south of the pond is thought to be the "Salu Mandapaya" (the changing room) for those who were privileged to use this bath (Wikramagamage, 2004; Ray, 1960). An elegantly carved "Sandakada Pahana" (a moonstone) can be seen at the entrance of this pavilion (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Kumara Pokuna, Polonnaruwa Kumara Pokuna, Polonnaruwa

1) Polonnaruwa-Kumara Pokuna (3) by Ji-Elle is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
2) Kumara Pukuna 02 by Bgag is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
3) Polonnaruwa-Kumara Pokuna (5) by Ji-Elle is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

1) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.603.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.207-208.

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Pabalu Vehera

Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa
Pabalu Vehera is a ruined Buddhist monastery located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It is located to the south of the main street which starts from the eastern gate.

There is no evidence to prove the exact builder or the ancient name of this monastery. It is popularly believed that the Pabalu Vehera could be the Stupa which is supposed to have been built by Queen Rupavathi, a consort of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.).

Pabalu Vehera
Pabalu Vehera
Presently, this site including the large Stupa is called as "Pabalu Vehera" (meaning: the beads Stupa/temple). This name may have been attached to this monastic complex, owing to the discovery of a large amount of beads in the vicinity around the Stupa.

A number of image houses, each comprising images in different postures, have been built around the Stupa. The image houses are vary in size and the largest of them houses an image of reclining Buddha. At the south of the Stupa is a narrow staircase in three flights providing access to the top of the basal tiers. During the excavations, a round stone and the "Yupa" with melted iron fragments on them had been found by archaeologists (Fernando, 1990).

Pabalu Vehera copper plaque
A stone slab used as a deposit container was found from Pabalu Vehera along with several other objects such as bronzes, reliquaries, a miniature Stupa and beads (Ślączka, 2007). The slab had nine regular square compartments and one of them contained a copper plaque inscribed with a Sanskrit inscription of two lines (Ślączka, 2007). 

  • Pabalu Vehera Sanskrit Inscription

    Period : 9-10th centuries A.D.
    Script  : Sinhala
    Language : Sanskrit

    Transcript : (1) Om manipa (2) (dme) sv(o)sti
    Translation : Translation is difficult as it contains mysterious words.
    Citation : Dhammaratana, 2000.

According to Dhammaratana, this inscription is an invocation address to Tara, a Tantric goddess who was widely worshiped in Sri Lanka during the 9-10 centuries A.D. (Dhammaratana, 2000).

Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa

1) Dhammaratana, I., 2000. Sanskrit Inscriptions in Sri Lanka: A thesis submitted to the University of Pune in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sanskrit. Department of Sanskrit & Prakrit Languages, University of Pune, India. pp.391-394.
2) Fernando, W.B.M., 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology, 1930-1950. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.101.
3) Ślączka, A.A., 2007. Temple consecration rituals in ancient India: text and archaeology (Vol. 26). Brill. pp.382-383.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Pita Kotte in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

The history of Kotte temple is dated back to the period of Kotte Kingdom (1412-1597 A.D.). The temple which was the main religious center for the Kingdom of Kotte during the 15 century, is described in details in Sandesha Kavya (poetic literature) of the era and was developed under the royal patronage of King Parakramabahu VI [(1412-1467 A.D.) Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018].

At the time, the temple is said to be completed in all aspects including a three storeyed Temple of Tooth, a Stupa, a Bodhi-tree, an image house and a Pohoya Geya. It was located near to the royal palace of Kotte and therefore, it received much royal patronage of the kings of Kotte Kingdom. However, with the down fall of Kotte Kingdom, the temple confronted invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). During the Dutch period, the temple was completely destroyed .

The destroyed Kotte Viharaya was re-established by Ven. Pilane Buddha Rakkhitha Thera in 1818, by utilizing the ruins and remains of the old temple (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). New constructions such as an image house and a Vahalkada/Vahal Doratuwa (the entrance to the temple premises) were added to the temple subsequently by Buddha Rakkhitha Thera.

Presently, a Na-tree (iron wood) located few meters outside of the temple premises, is worshiped as a sacred tree by the local people. They connect the history of this tree with Prince Sapumal, the adopted son of King Parakramabahu VI, who attacked Jaffna (Yapa Patuna) and brought it under the control of Kotte Kingdom. According to them, Prince Sapumal had made a vow to this Na-tree prior to his departure to capture Jaffna peninsula.
Literary mentions
Nampotha (Vihara Asna)
The temple at Kotte is mentioned in the 15th century Sinhalese text "Nampotha" as "Jayawardhana Kottayehi Oth Pilima Geya" & "Shanmukha Devalaya". The Oth Pilima Geya (the house of reclining statue) is believed to be the image house (with reclining Buddha statue) of old Kotte temple built by King Parakramabahu VI while the shrine in front of it, is believed to be the Shanmukha Devalaya.

Image house
The image house which has a rectangular shape, is about 40 ft. long, 30 ft. wide, and 40 ft high (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The open verandah which facing the north makes the access to the image house and its roof is supported by eight pairs of cylindrical shaped pillars. 

The image house consists of two sections; the outer hall and the middle Mandapaya (a pavilion). The outer hall runs around the middle Mandapaya and can be accessed through two separated entrances. The middle Mandapaya also contains two compartments: the outer section and the inner section. The front and side walls of the outer section have been adorned with Kandyan era paintings (Southern School art style) and sculptures depicting floral decorations, divinities and Jathaka stories such as Thelapatta, Manichora, Chulla Paduma and Kattahari (Rajapakshe et al., 2018) . The inner section which can be accessed through two entrances, houses four Buddha statues; a large reclining statue and three standing statues (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). A portrait of Queen Victoria and a crest containing the name "Jayawardana Kotte Jayawardhana Maha Vihara" in English are found drawn over the right and left entrance doors of the inner section (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

A portrait of Queen Victoria, Kotte temple Queen Victoria at Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

A portrait  of Queen Victoria  who received  the  coronation
as  the  queen  of  all colonial  countries has  been  painted
over the inner entrance (the right door) of the image house
of  Kotte  Raja  Maha  Viharaya.  A  similar portrait  can  be
seen at Dehiwala Karagampitiya Viharaya.
Reference : Chutiwongs et al., 1990. p.34.
Besides the old image house, several other constructions such as the Vahal Doratuwa, the Kataragama Devalaya, and the Bamunu Geya are considered as old monuments with archaeological interests (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

A protected site
The all artifacts and the ancient Wahalkada (Gateway) located in the territory of the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara in the Grama Niladari Division of Pitakotte (GND No. 522) in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 20 June 2014.
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

1) Kotte Raja Maha Vihara 1 by L Manju is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

1) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilaka, L.; Silva, R., 1990. Sri Lanka Bithu Sithuwam: Karagampitiya (Paintings of Sri Lanka: Karagampitiya). Sri Lanka Archaeological Authority: Centenary publication. Central Cultural Fund. p.34.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.85.
3) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. pp.7-5.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1868. 20 June 2014. p.503.

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