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, December 14, 2019

Kingdom of Kotte

The Kingdom of Kotte was a kingdom in Sri Lanka during the 15th century. It was the last native sovereign that unified the entire island under one rule.

The Sinhalese Kingdom which was established in Anuradhapura in the 3rd century B.C. moved to Polonnaruwa during the 11th century A.D. due to the foreign invasions mainly flooded from neighboring India. It was then gradually moved to the south-west part of the country, starting from Dambadeniya to Gampola. After the shift from Gampola, Kotte became the capital city of the Sinhalese Kingdom in the 15th century A.D.

Details about the ancient Kotte Kingdom are found in several old documents such as Nikaya Sangrahaya (1396 A.D.), Saddharmaratnakaraya, Alakeshvara Yuddhaya, Rajavaliya as well as in the descriptions by Couto (1552-1616 A.D.), Ribeiro (1685 A.D.), Queyroz (1688 A.D.) and Valentijn [(1722 A.D.) Fonseka, 2010].

Construction of Kotte Fortress
According to Nikaya Sangrahaya, the initial step to make the Kotte a fortified city was taken by Alagakkonara (Nissanka Alakesvara) during the reign of King Vikramabahu IV of Gampola [(1360-1373 A.D.) Fonseka, 2010; Somaratna, 1969]. It is said that this fort was built as a garrison town to resist the tax collectors who had been appointed by the rulers of Jaffna. The political instability and power struggle that occurred at the end of the 14th century resulted in the giving up of Gampola and the ruling body was then moved to Kotte, the newly established frontier fort. However, Kotte became an official kingdom after the anointing of King Parakramabahu VI (c.1412-1467 A.D.) as the King of Jayawardanapura (Wijewardana et al., 2011).

King Parakramabahu VI
Siri Perakumba Pirivena
King Parakramabahu VI developed this garrison town to a fortified capital city. In addition to the fortification, the king built a three-storied Temple of Tooth, five-storied palace for himself, but no a trace of these two edifices are found today (Fonseka, 2010; Wijewardana et al., 2011) However, the fortification of Parakramabahu VI in Kabok (laterite) stones is still visible at several places in the area.

During this period, the Jaffna was captured and the entire island was unified under one canopy by King Parakramabahu VI for the first time after the reign of King Parakramabahu I the Great [(1153-1186 A.D.) Somaratna, 1969; Wijewardana et al., 2011].

Conquest of Jaffna
During the reign of King Parakramabahu VI, Sapumal Kumaraya, an adopted son of the king, attacked Jaffna (Yapa Patuna) and brought it under the control of Kotte Kingdom.  

Simhala Peraliya
Dedigama Slab Inscription of Bhuvanekabahu VI
After the demise of King Parakramabahu VI, the throne of the Kotte Kingdom was given to Prince Jayabahu, the son of Ulakudaya Deviya [(the daughter of King Parakramabahu VI) Suraweera, 1997]. By hearing this coronation, Sapumal Kumaraya who was at the time at Yapa Patuna came to Kotte and usurped the throne and became the king of Kotte under the name Bhuvanekabahu VI (Suraweera, 1997). However, this incident caused to make an insurrection among Sinhalese people in the kingdom. Details on the insurrection against King Bhuvanekabahu VI are found in some chronicles such as Rajavaliya and lithic inscriptions including the Dedigama slab inscription.

Vijayaba Kollaya
An uprising popularly known as Vijayaba Kollaya occurred in 1521, against King Vijayabahu VII (1519-1521 A.D.) resulting in the division of Kotte Kingdom into three parts (Somaratna, 1969; Wijewardana et al., 2011). The three sons of Vijayabahu VII mutinied against their father and divided the kingdom among themselves. The elder son, Buvanekabahu VII ruled the Kotte as the chief sovereign while Mayadunne ruled Sitawaka and Pararajasingha (or Raigam Bandara) ruled Raigama.

The political stability of the Kotte Kingdom started to more deteriorate when the Prince Dharmapala (the son of King Buvanekabahu VII’s daughter) became the ruler of the country. By this period, the Portuguese had arrived in Sri Lanka and was engaging in commercial trading. In 1565, Prince Dharmapala had to abandon the capital of Kotte due to frequent attacks from the Sitawaka Kingdom led by Mayadunne and his son Rajasinghe I (Wijewardana et al., 2011). The prince who had been baptized as a Catholic by the Portuguese, able to get the assistance of the Portuguese and lived in Colombo under their protection. In 1597 Dharmapala gifted the Kotte Kingdom to the Portuguese throne marking the end of the kingdom that had existed for nearly 200 years.

The rulers of the Kotte Kingdom
Parakramabahu VI (1412-1467 A.D.)                         Jayabahu II (1467-1472 A.D.)
Buvanekabahu VI (1472-1480 A.D.)                           Panditha Parakramabahu VII (1480-1484 A.D.)
Vira Parakramabahu VIII (1484-1508 A.D.)               Dharma Parakramabahu IX (1508-1519 A.D.)
Vijayabahu VII (1519-1521 A.D.)                                 Buvanekabahu VII (1521-1550 A.D.)
Prince Dharmapala (1550-1597 A.D.)

Keragala Padmavathi Pirivena, Sri Lanka
The Sinhalese literature was at the peak of its development during the Kotte period. Many important literary works in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, and Tamil were written during this period by well known Buddhist and Hindu scholars such as Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera, Veedagama Maithri Thera, Keragala Wanarathana Thera, Ramachandra Bharathi, and Thannuru Tuneiar. The teaching of Tripitakaya and Buddhism were the main subjects in Kotte literature while poetry, dancing, and astrology were among the other subjects. Keragala Padmavathi, Veedagama Siri Ganananda, Totagamuwe Vijayaba, Pepiliyana Sunetradevi, and Devinuwara Thilaka Pirivena were several prominent teaching institutions that engaged in spreading literacy to the entire country.

Notable literary works of the Kotte period
Bhakthi Shathakaya                    Buduguna Alankaraya                    Elu Attanagamu Vamsaya
Elu-silo Shathakaya                    Gira Sandeshaya                             Guttila Kawya
Kaw Lakunu Minimal                  Kawyashekaraya                             Kokila Sandeshaya
Kuweni Asna                                Loweda Sangarawa                        Panchikapradeepaya
Parewi Sandeshaya                    Perakumba Siritha                           Purana Namawaliya
Ruwanmala                                  Saddharmaratnakaraya                  Selalihini Sandeshaya
Vaidya Chinthamani                   Yogaratnakarakaya

Thamba-massa, Silver Angutu-massa, and Panama were among the main coins circulated during the Kotte period. Other contemporary coins used during this period include Setu and Pagodi coins.

Coins of Parakramabahu VI
Thamba-massa (Copper coin of specific weight) - This is a coin minted by King Parakramabahu VI (c.1412-1467 A.D.) following a similar pattern to Thamba-massa coin used during the Polonnaruwa (1017-1232 A.D.) and Dambadeniya (1220-1345 A.D.) periods. These coins can be distinguished from early Massa coins by the presence of a seated lion together with the standing figure on the obverse. On the reverse of the coin is a seated man with the legend "Sri Parakramabahu" (the name has been written in Nagari characters). The coins have been minted by pouring molten copper into round clay molds. 

Panama - A valuable coin used during the 14th century A.D.. Silver Panama coins were circulated between the period 1454 to 1506 and subsequently replaced by the gold Panama coins. 

Silver Angutu-massa - Circulated since the 16th century A.D. Silver Angutu-massa was also known by the names of bent-silver, Masu-angutu, and Koku-massa. The coin has been made by bending a 4-inch long silver wire of specific diameter to a hook-shaped structure.

Historical sites situated within the present Kotte Municipality
Kotte was the capital of Sri Lanka from 1412 to 1565 A.D. (Fonseka, 2010). Since it existed nearly 150 years as the capital of the country, a significant amount of preserved ruins of this ancient kingdom can be expected. However, the rapid development and land occupation that were taken place in the recent history in this area have caused massive destruction of the ruins of this ancient kingdom.

Presently, only a few places in the area reminiscent the old glory of the Kotte Kingdom.

Alakeshwara Archaeological Site                              Ananda Sastralaya Ruins
Diyawanna Oya                                                             Gal Ambalama
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya                                          Perakumba Pirivena
Vehera Kanda

1) Fonseka, P., 2010. The Ancient City of Kōṭṭe and its Fortification. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 56, pp.57-117.
2) Somaratna, G.P.V., 1969. Political history of the Kingdom of Kotte (c. AD 1400-1521) (Doctoral dissertation, SOAS University of London). pp.79-85,147-188, 456-460.
3) Suraweera, A. V., 1997. Rajavaliya: A critical edition with an introduction (In Sinhala). Educational Publications Department. pp.85-86, 90, 219-220.
4) Wijewardana, A., Thilakawardana, A. E. L., Priyangani, S., 2011. Aithihasika Kotte (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-9159-69-8. pp.1-5.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christ Church, Galkissa

Christ Church, Galkissa
Christ Church is an Anglican church situated in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. The church is located on the wayside of the Colombo-Galle main road approximately 12.3 km distance from Colombo Fort Station.

The history of the Galkissa Christ Church is running back to the 19th century. On 16 February 1843, the church was consecrated by Bishop Trevor Spencer, the second bishop of Madras.

A protected site
The ancient four tombs engravings in the Christian cemetery in the Grama Niladhari Division of Dehiwela South, in the Ratmalana Divisional Secretary’s Division, are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.  

1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.

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This page was last updated on 11 December 2019

Uththararama Purana Viharaya, Udugampola

Uththararama Purana Viharaya, Udugampola
Uththararama Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Udugampola in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

A toilet base from Maliga-godella Uththararama ViharayaAccording to the available historical and archaeological evidences, Udugampola was a Upa-Rajadhani (sub-kingdom) which was ruled by deputies under the guidance of the king during the Kotte period [(1412–1597 A.D.) Wijesuriya, 2015]. Several historical sources such as Rajavaliya and "Alakeshwara Yuddhaya" (The battale of Alakeshwara) reveal that the King Sakalakala Wallabha (or Sakalakala Wallakabahu), one of sons of King Vira Parakramabahu VIII (1484-1505 A.D.) had ruled this region (Suraweera, 1997). The others, Dharma Parakramabahu (1508/09–1528 A.D.), the eldest son of  Vira Parakramabahu VIII became the king of Kotte and Prince Taniya Wallabha reigned the principality of Madampe. The palace of the king of Udugampola was built at the premises today known as Maliga-godella (the mound of palace) where the Uththararama Viharaya is situated. Remains of the royal pond and its protective moat are still being identified at the site (Wijesuriya, 2015). Also, the names of several villages surrounding the Udugampola, bear similar pronunciations of various task and services attached to the royal palace (Wijesuriya, 2015).

1) Suraweera, A. V., 1997. Rajavaliya: A critical edition with an introduction (In Sinhala). Educational Publications Department. pp.91-92.
2) Wijesuriya, D., 2015. Administration of Udugampola, sub kingdom: A historical and archaeological legacy. 3rd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Asian Heritage, 27th - 28th December 2015, Centre for Asian Studies, University of Kelaniya & International Association for Asian Heritage (IAAH).

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This page was last updated on 11 December 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Isurumuniya Viharaya

Isurumuniya ViharayaIsurumuniya Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated by the side of the Tissa Wewa in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. The temple is widely popular for its remarkable stone carvings such as Isurumuniya Lovers, Elephant Pond, the Royal Family, and the Man and Horsehead.

The sacred Bodhi-tree, IsurumuniyaAncient Meghagiri or Meygiri Viharaya in Mahameghavana is presently called as Isurumuniya (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1953). Situated between Dakkhina Stupa and the eastern gate of Magul Uyana (Royal Pleasure Garden), this temple is said to be the first repository of the Tooth Relic of Buddha (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1953).

Some information found in the Sinhalese glossary Mahabodhivamsa has helped in the identification of this site. It mentions that there is a bathing-pond belonging to a Met-giri-vehera between the Dakkhina Thupa and a path leading from the eastern gate of the Royal Pleasure Garden. The name Met-giri, according to Paranavitana (1953), has been incorrectly written in this text and the probable correct reading is May-giri, the Pali equivalent of Megha-giri [(the cloud rock) Paranavitana, 1953]. A temple named Megha-giri Vihara is mentioned in the "Dathavamsa" and it was the place where the Tooth Relic of Buddha found refuge before it received the royal recognition (Paranavitana, 1953). The 14th-century text "Dalada-sirita" also mentions that Megha-giri Vihara was the first resting place of the Tooth Relic of Buddha in Sri Lanka. According to the details given in the "Dathavamsa", "Dalada-sirita" and a 10th-century pillar inscription from Kiribath Vehera, the site presently called as Isurumuniya is believed to be the ancient Meghagiri temple (Paranavitana, 1953).

Ancient Issarasamana Viharaya
Isurumuniya (Pali: Issarasamana; Old Sinhala: Isiramana), according to the opinion of some scholars (Gamage, 1987; Perera, 1970), is the ancient Issarasamana Viharaya (or part of it) founded by King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C.) in the 3rd century B.C. (Nicholas, 1963). It has received its name from the 500 disciples of Prince Arittha who dwelt there, after they had been ordained by Mahinda Thera (Gamage, 1987). According to chronicles, one of eight saplings of the Sri Maha Bodhi-tree has been planted in this site (Gamage, 1987). 

Issarasamana Viharaya, throughout history, has received the patronage of kings. King Chandra-Mukhasiva (43-52 A.D.) built a tank in Manikaragama and bestowed it for the usage of this temple (Gamage, 1987). During the reign of King Vasabha (67-111 A.D.) an Uposatha house was added to this temple and a wall had been also added to it by King Voharika Tissa [(209-231 A.D.) Gamage, 1987; Nicholas, 1963]. The temple was repaired and enlarged in the 5th century A.D. by King Kassapa I [(473-491 A.D.) Gamage, 1987; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1953]. 

The name Isiramana (the old Sinhala form of the name of Isurumuniya) is found in several first or second-century inscriptions located in the Vessagiriya monastic site (Paranavitana, 1953). According to Mahawamsa, King Kassapa I renovated the Issarasamana temple and renamed it as Bo-Upulvan Kasubgiri Viharaya, giving it his own name and the names of his daughters Bodhi and Uppalavanna (Gamage, 1987). This fact given in the Mahawamsa is also confirmed by the inscriptions found in the Vessagiriya Vihara premises (Nicholas, 1963). Therefore, the old Issarasamana Viharaya which is mentioned in the chronicles is presently identified with the site now called Vessagiriya (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1953).

The temple is popular among the locals as well as foreigners due to its magnificent collection of stone sculptures. These sculptures are found carved in the living rocks and separate stone slabs.

Elephant Pond
Elephant carvings, IsurumuniyaA herd of elephants (four figures) at water sports are found carved on the rock face of two adjoining boulders. These low-relief figures sculpted just above the water level of the pond have been carved in a very naturalistic manner. The presence of leaves and buds of lotus indicates that elephants are bathing in a pool.

These elephant figures are said to be similar to the figures that are found in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) in India (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The Man & Horsehead (Minisa saha Ashwa-hisa)
The Man & Horsehead, Isurumuniya
The figures of a seated man and the head of a horse behind him are found carved in a cavity on a rock situated in the temple premises. The man figure is about 2 feet 7½ inches tall (from the waist to the crown of the head) and in a seated position (Gamage, 1987; Paranavitana, 1953). The left leg is horizontally placed on the ground and folded therefore, the left foot touches the right thigh. The knee of the right leg is raised and the right hand is resting on it. The left-hand stretches vertically down and touches the base. The upper body of the figure is naked and ornamented with a necklace, bracelet, and heavy ear-rings. The lower half of the body is covered by a thin cloth.

The horse head is emerging out behind the right hand of the seated figure. The snout of the horse has been damaged due to some reason and has been recently restored in cement (Gamage, 1987).

There are several opinions regarding the identity of this sculpture. Ananda Coomaraswamy believes this sculpture illustrates Kapila Muni, a sage from the Indian myth of the Descent of the Ganges from heaven (Chakrabarti, 2017; Paranavitana, 1953; Perera). However, due to the powerful military and forceful countenance of the man, some scholars such as Prof. Vogel, Dr. William Cohn have dismissed this opinion (Chakrabarti, 2017; Gamage, 1987; Paranavitana, 1953). Prof. Senarath Paranavithana believes that this man figure represents "Parjanya" or"Varuna", the rain god and the horse represents "Agni", the fire (Chakrabarti, 2017; Gamage, 1987; Jayasuriya, 2016; Paranavitana, 1953). The Dutch scholar Prof. Van Lohuizen de Leeuw thinks that this man figure symbolizes Aiyanar, a guardian deity who protects crops, cattle and irrigation tanks (Gamage, 1987; Jayasuriya, 2016).

Buddha shrine
Near to the sculpture of the Man and the horse is a small rock-cut shrine containing a seated Buddha (Gamage, 1987). The shrine is the main attraction to the pilgrims today and can be accessed through a flight of steps. The "Makara Thorana" at the entrance of the shrine shows artistic features belonging to the 10th century or later (Paranavitana, 1953).

Isurumuni Lovers (Isurumuni Pem Yuwala)
Isurumuni Lovers
This is a world-famous couple sculpted on a slab of granite, presently living in the Archaeological Museum of Isurumuniya. It is said to be doubtful whether this sculpture was actually found from the Isurumuniya temple premises or from the adjoining Royal Pleasure Garden (Wijesekera, 1990).

The slab contains two figures: a man and a woman. The man figure is apparently lustful and embracing the woman who is sitting on his left thigh. He bears a shield-shaped halo and a sward around his neck. The woman who has an erotic look on her eyes is sitting on the thigh of the man in a passionate posture. Both figures have been ornamented with jewelry such as necklaces, bangles, etc.

Scholars have given many interpretations for the two figures. A famous opinion says that this couple represents Mahayana Bodhisatva Sthira-cakra Manjusri and his consort (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wijesekera, 1990). Another opinion suggests that this sculpture depicts King Dutugemunu's (161-137 B.C.) son Prince Saliya and the low-cast girl Asokamala to whom he loved (Jayasuriya, 2016). It is popularly known that Prince Saliya gave up the throne for Asokamala.

This sculpture with Gupta characteristics belongs to the 4-5th centuries A.D. (Wijesekera, 1990).

The Royal Family (Raja Paula)
The Royal family, Isurumuniya
An irregular-shaped stone slab containing five human figures is found placed in the Archaeological Museum of Isurumuniya Viharaya. The maximum length of this slab is 3 ft 3.5 in and the breadth is 2 ft 2.25 in (Paranavitana, 1956). According to the opinion of Paranavitana (1956), this sculpture represents a scene of a royal family, probably the family of King Dutugemunu (Paranavitana, 1956). 

The total sculpture is dominated by the center male figure with a noble appearance who is seated in an unconventional pose. The figure is apparently sitting on a raised platform and fanned by someone (probably a servant) at his right side. His left leg, bent at the knee, rests on the seat. The knee of the right leg is raised and the foot, pointing downward, touches the platform before the left thigh. The right arm which is bent at the elbow stretches towards his shoulder while his left arm rests on the lap of a female who is sitting next to him on the left side. The upper body of the figure is naked and the lower part is covered by a thin cloth. The figure ornamented with a crown, bangles, ear-rings, and necklaces. It is suggested that this figure represents a king (Paranavitana, 1956).

The lady figure at the left side is also sitting on a platform but a little lower than the center male figure. Slightly incline towards the right side, she holds the left arm of the center male figure by her both hands. She is also ornamented with jewelry. If the central figure is a king, this lady may represent his queen (Paranavitana, 1956).

At the most right corner from the center figure is a seated youth with hands folded across the chest. The figure is sitting on a lower level and wears jewelry. This figure may represent a prince of the royal family (Paranavitana, 1956). Another lady figure who is sitting on her haunches with raised knees to the waist is found at the most right corner of the sculpture carved behind the main female figure (Paranavitana, 1956).

Stylistically, this sculpture has been ascribed to the Gupta period (Paranavitana, 1956).


1) Chakrabarti, M., 2017. Man and Horse Sculpture at Isurumuniya Anuradhapura A New Interpretation. Buddhism and Jainism in Early Historic Asia. pp.73-79.
2) Gamage, D., 1987. ඉසුරුමුණි විහාරයේ මිනිසා සහ අශ්ව හිස පිළිබද නව සංකල්පයක් (In Sinhala). Vidyodaya J., Soc., Sc. Vol. 1. No.1. pp.47-58.
3) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.53-54.
4) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, vol VI, Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.148
5) Paranavitana, S., 1953. The Sculpture of Man and Horse near Tisāväva at Anurādhapura, Ceylon. Artibus Asiae, pp.167-190.
6) Paranavitana, S., 1956. A Bas-Relief at" Isurumuṇi" Anurādhapura. Artibus Asiae, 19(3/4), pp.335-341.
7) Perera, A.D.T.E., 1970. A Possible Identification of a Significant Sculpture at Isurumuniya Temple, Anurādhapura A Man and a Horse's Head. East and West, 20(1/2), pp.122-143.
8) Wijesekera, N. (Editor-in-chief), 1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Sculpture (Vol. 4). Commissioner of Archaeology. pp.34-35, 70.

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Lankaramaya, Anuradhapura

Lankaramaya (ancient names: Manisomaramaya, Manithuparamaya, Silasobbhakandaka) is a Buddhist temple situated in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is also one of eight sacred places in the country known as Atamasthana.

According to historical sources, King Valagamba (89-77 B.C.) built a Stupa named "Silasobbhakandaka" on an elevated ground to the north of Ruwanveliseya and the Stupa presently known as Lankarama is believed to be that Stupa built by the king (Jayasuriya, 2016). The ruins around the Lankarama Stupa have been identified as the Manisomaramaya established by King Valagamba (Wikramagamage, 2004). Later, a circular Stupa-house (Vatadageya) was added to this Stupa by King Kanittatissa (164-192 A.D.)

Lankarama temple
Initially, there were a square on the dome and a parasol to this Stupa (Wikramagamage, 2004), but its original shape has been altered due to the later renovation works (Jayasuriya, 2016). The present Stupa is 15.24 m (50 ft) in height, 45.72 m (150 ft) in circumference and has a diameter of 11.54 m (38 ft). The shape of the Stupa is Amlakara (the shape of myrobalan fruit).

The Stupa has been built on an elevated circular platform measuring 3.1 m in height (Wikramagamage, 2004) and is surrounded by three concentric circles of stone pillars: 20 pillars in the first row, 28 pillars in the second row and 40 pillars in the third row. The inner circle of pillars has been fixed on the raised floor immediately around the Stupa and the outer circle stands just outside the enclosure wall. Four flight of steps has been built to access the Stupa ground. Remaining evidence indicates that Buddha statues had been placed around the Stupa (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The relic of the Buddha (part of the belt) and the jewels of Queen Somadevi are believed to be enshrined in this Stupa.

Lankarama complex
Presence of Vatadageya, Bodhi-tree shrine, chapter house, image house, residential units, pond and the boundary wall in the Lankarama complex indicate that it may have existed as an independent institution within the Abhayagiri Monastery. Another opinion suggests that this temple complex could be a monastery reserved for the Buddhist nuns of Abhayagiri Viharaya (Jayasuriya, 2016). 

2) This image (Anuradhapura Lankarama 1927) has been released into the public domain

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. pp.106-107.

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This page was last updated on 1 December 2019

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Kossinna Yatawatta Raja Maha Viharaya

Kossinna Yatawatta Viharaya
Kossinna Yatawatta Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Kossinna in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

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

"Kossinna" is the village where the present temple is situated. 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.

Image house
The seated Buddha, Kossinna temple
The image house of Kossinna temple is archaeologically important. It is about 273ft long, 14.8ft wide and has been built on an elevated rectangular-shaped platform (Lakmali et al., 2017). 

A seated Buddha statue accompanied by two figures of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha, are found inside the image house. Two standing statues of Buddha are also found facing each other at both left and right walls (Lakmali et al., 2017). The inner walls of the shrine contain no empty spaces and are filled with the paintings of various decorative motifs. A "Makara Thorana"(a dragon arch) with the images of deities and doorkeepers adorn the front of the entrance wall. The outer walls, except the entrance wall, are not decorated with any sculptures or murals. The existing paintings and sculptures, according to their artistic features, are belonging to the Kandyan period [(1469-1815 A.D.) Lakmali et al., 2017].

A protected site
The ancient image house, Devalaya and the Stupa located on the premises of Kossinna Raja Maha Vihara in the Grama Niladari Division of Kossinna in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Gampaha are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

The bell tower Kossinna temple image house Kossinna Viharaya Kossinna 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) Lakmali, A.S., Priyamali, A.S., Madhushani, E.P. and Chandrasiri, T.M.J., 2017. කොස්සින්න යටවත්ත රජමහ විහාරයෙහි ඇති ඉපැරණි විහාර මන්දිරය පිළිබඳව විමර්ශනයක්. 2nd Undergraduates' Research Conference 2017 (URACT). p.13.
4) 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 30 November 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Archaeological Ruins at Kotte Ananda Sastralaya

Ruins at Kotte Ananda Sastralaya
Ruins of several ancient monuments (probably the ruins of an old Buddhist shrine) made of "Kabok" (laterite) have been unearthed from the school premises of Ananda Sastralaya in Pita Kotte village in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Without certain identification. these ruins are popularly called by the locals as an ancient tunnel that belongs to the Kingdom of Kotte (1412-1597 A.D.).

Folklore says that Prince Veediya Bandara who had been held inside the fort of Colombo by  Portuguese was rescued by his wife by having a tunnel dug underneath the walls of the fort (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The tunnel entrance, according to folklore, was somewhere in Kotte and the rest was extending towards the Colombo Fort and Borella area (Manathunga, 2016). The ruined structure with a door-shape cavity exposed within the premises of Kotte Ananda Sastralaya is believed by the locals as the tunnel entrance that is mentioned in the folklore (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

However, an excavation which was carried out at the premises by the Archaeological Department in 2014, revealed no single evidence of a tunnel but the ruins of a small Stupa and a chamber built of laterite rock (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Also, a fragment of plaque with the carvings of miniature Buddha figures has been recovered from the site and that artifact is presently on the display at the Archaeological Museum of Kotte.

The site contains two large structures, viz; a Stupa and a tall rectangular chamber. They have been built by digging the living laterite rock and hence located about 3 m below the ground level (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The rectangular chamber, according to the local beliefs is the tunnel entrance/exit but its true identity is yet to be found. A portico is extending outwards from this rectangular chamber and its front face has been decorated with a "Makara Thorana" (a dragon arch). The floor of the ruins can be reached through a flight of steps starting from the ground level. The steps have also been cut out of living laterite rock and end with a shape similar to a "Sandakada Pahana" [(a moonstone) Rajapakshe et al., 2018]. 

A protected site
The ancient ruins (the gazette mentions them as the ruins of an ancient tunnel) located in the school premises of Ananda Sastralaya in the Grama Niladari Division of Pitakotte (No. 522 B) in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 27 June 1952.

1) A Tunnel Which Supposedly Led To Colombo Fort by Indi Samarajiva is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.86-87.
2) 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. p.4.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 10418. 27 June 1952.

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This page was last updated on 2 December 2019

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Demalamaha Seya

Demalamaha Seya
Demalamaha Seya (also known as Damila Thupa) is a gigantic brick-built Stupa situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The smaller Stupa with a square-shaped platform
Demalamaha Seya, according to the description in Mahawamsa, was a Stupa with a size of approximately 1300 cubit. It is believed that this Stupa was built by King Parakramabahu I (1153–1186 A.D.) in the 12th century with a workforce of 12,000 Dravidians (Pandyan prisoners) who brought from South India.

According to scholars, this Stupa built by King Parakramabahu I was intended to surpass all other monuments of the type in the country (Ray, 1960). However, due to some reason, the king has not completed the dome of Stupa and stopped its construction at a height of about 50 feet from the ground, forming an extensive circular plateau at the top (Ray, 1960). In the middle of that plateau, a smaller Stupa with a square-shaped platform has been built.

Carbon dating
Four charcoal samples discovered from Demalamaha Seya during the conservation process were sent to Beta Analytic Institute in U.S.A. by authorities for dating and the results revealed the carbon date as 1155 A.D.

The present Stupa has a perimeter of 600 m and a height of 25.65 m. It is said to have been built enveloping an existing quartzite (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The Stupa which was remained like a small hill covered with vegetation for a long period was started to conserve several times by the authorities, but the attempts had been abandoned due to the massive expenses required for the project. However, in 2014, the excavation and the conservation works of the Stupa was started by the Central Cultural Fund under the supervision of Dr. Nimal Perera.

A massive brick structure Excavation pits
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.86.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. pp.594-595.

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This page was last updated on 23 November 2019