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. has 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.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ethimale Wewa

Ethimale Wewa is a reservoir situated in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. 

History
This tank has been constructed in an ancient district called Uruvela-mandala or Etumala (Nicholas, 1963). Queen Sugala, the last ruler of Ruhuna is said to have been defeated here by the forces of King Parakramabahu I [(1153–1186 A.D.) Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963]. Although Sugala managed to escape from the battlefield, the Tooth and the Bowl Relic of the Buddha in her possession were captured by Parakramabahu I (Nicholas, 1963).

The tank Ethimale Wewa has been identified with the ancient Uruvela Vapi located in the Uruwela-mandala District (Arumugam, 1969). It is said to have been restored by King Parakramabahu I (Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963). The present tank was restored in 1962 (Arumugam, 1969).

The reservoir
The bund of the reservoir is about 3,950 ft. long and the water is extending in an area of about 470 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969). It has one spill and one sluice (Arumugam, 1969). 

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.145.
2) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.53.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 23 September 2021
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Heenatipana Ambalama

The Heenatipana Ambalama (also known as Mawanella Molligoda Pinkumbura Ambalama) is an old wayside rest situated in Mawanella Molligoda village in Kagella District, Sri Lanka. 

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. As mentioned on one of its pillars, this Ambalama has been built in 1947.

Located at the edge of a paddy field, this Ambalama has been built on a stone base of about 2.5 ft. high. Large well-cut blocks of stone have been used for the base. Four stone pillars at the corners of the base support the pitched roof covered with flat-clay tiles (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The upper and lower parts of the pillars are square and the middle part is octagonal in shape. The capitals of them are made of wood decorated with Pekada carvings.

An inscription inscribed on one of the pillars of this building contain details about the construction of this Ambalama. It can be read as follows; 
Text: ශ්‍රී බු.ව. 2490, මෙය හීනටිපන යූ. බී. හඳකුඹුරේ විසින් කරවා 25.4.47 වැනි දින නිමවන ලදී.
Transcript: Sri Buddhist Year 2490 , This, made by U.B. Handakumbure, was completed on 25.4.47.
References
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.160.

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This page was last updated on 23 September 2021
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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Bothale Raja Maha Viharaya

Sri Gotabaya Raja Maha Viharaya (or popularly known as Bothale Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Bothale village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple runs back to the Anuradhapura Period. According to folklore, King Gotabhaya (254-267 A.D.) wanted to build a Viharaya at Attanagalla after King Sirisamghabodhi (252-254 A.D.) gave up his life there. He obtained a sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura to plant there and started the journey with his crew. On their way to Attanagalla, as the night approached, the group decided to spend that day at the village where the present temple stands. They placed the Bo sapling safely on slightly higher ground and spent the night. On the next day when the king and his crew were about to leave the place, they observed that the Bo sapling couldn't be moved from the ground where they placed it. Overjoyed by this incident, the king ordered his crew to stop there to perform the Bodhi tree rituals. From then on, the people used to identify this area by the name "Botale" which means "the plateau of Bo tree". Presently, the Bo tree at this temple has been protected as a monument by the Department of Archaeology.

A protected site
The old Bodhi tree and other ancient monuments situated in the premises of Gothabhaya Raja Maha Vihara in Bothale village in the Hapitigama Grama Niladari Division in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Mirigama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 July 1966.

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14702. 1 July 1966.
 
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This page was last updated on 22 September 2021
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Kaluwila Mee Tree

The Kaluwila Mee Tree (also known as Kaluwila Mee Gasa) was an old tree situated in Kaluwila village in Anuradhapura District Sri Lanka. The tree which was standing on the bund of Kaluwila Wewa fell down on the ground in March 2017.

It was a Mee tree (scientific name: Madhuca longifolia), a tree belongs to the family Sapotaceae. As per belief of locals, this tree had a history associated with Robert Knox (1641-1720 A.D.), an English sea captain who lived in Sri Lanka for 19 years as a captive of Kandyan King Rajasinghe II (1635-1687 A.D.). Knox is said to have rested under this tree and a reference to this tree is found in his manuscript "An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon".
 
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Paramaulla Geta Kumbuk Tree

The Paramaulla Geta Kumbuk Tree situated in Paramaulla village in Kurunegala District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Alawwa-Maharagama road near the junction that leads the road to Paramaulla Tempita Viharaya.

It is a Kumbuk tree (scientific name: Terminalia arjuna), a tree of the genus Terminalia. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, the history of this tree is related to King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 A.D.) of Dambadeniya. It is said that this tree stood on the bund of the small reservoir called Paramaulla Wewa, which is now turned into paddy fields. The bund of this tank now served as a part of the road.
 
Due to the knotty appearance of the lower part of the trunk, this tree is known among the locals as Geta-Kumbuk Gasa. Kumbuk trees are said to have water purification abilities and therefore, they were planted on river banks and reservoir bunds since ancient times.

An Ambalama (a traditional resting place) has been built under the shade of this tree by locals to accommodate wayfarers who travel to distant places.

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This page was last updated on 21 September 2021
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Leonard Woolf's Tamarind Tree

The Leonard Woolf's Tamarind Tree (also known as Leonard Woolf's Siyambala Tree) situated in Meegahajandura village in Hambantota District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Kumaragama-Mahagalwawa-Meegahajandura road near the Meegahajandura Ayurvedic Hospital.

It is a Tamarind tree (scientific name: Tamarindus indica), a leguminous tree bearing edible fruits. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is historically important as it is related to Leonard Woolf (1880-1969), a British political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant. He moved to Sri Lanka in 1904 and served as an assistant government agent in the Southern Province administering the District of Hambantota from 1908 to 1911. It is said that, under this tree, Woolf listened to minor complaints and solved disputes.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Balana Kadawatha Jack Tree

The Kadawatha Jack Tree (also known as Kadawatha Kos Tree) situated in Balana village in Kandy District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Kadugannawa-Balana road near the ancient Balana Fort.

It is a jack tree (scientific name: Artocarpus heterophyllus), a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is believed to be more than 500 years old. As believed by local people, this tree has shaded the "Kadawatha", the tax-collecting point established near the ancient Balana Fort, a strategic rock fortress and an outpost of the Kandyan Kingdom (1469-1815 A.D.).



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Pilawala Tamarind Tree

The Pilawala Tamarind Tree (also known as Pilawala Siyambala Tree) situated in Pilawala village in Kandy District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Sirimalwatta-Yakgahapitiya-Menikhinna road near the junction between Pilawala Maha Vidyalaya and its playground.

It is a Tamarind tree (scientific name: Tamarindus indica), a leguminous tree bearing edible fruits. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is believed to be about 300 years old. As believed by local people, God Natha, the regional deity of Dumbara valley and God Pitiye Bandara have rested under the shade of this tree. It is also believed that the flower garden of King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendra Singha (1707–1739 A.D.) of Kandy was located near this tree.



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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Rameswaram Inscription of Nissankamalla

The Rameswaram Inscription of King Nissankamalla is a 12th-century Sinhalese inscription discovered from the premises of Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India. 

The stone seat
The inscription has been engraved on the surface (of about 3 ft. 10 inches) of a stone seat (Paranavitana, 1970). The writing has been commenced at the upper right corner of the seat and then it flows rightwards on all four sides until a space of 5 inches square is left at the centre of the surface (Paranavitana, 1970). This space is filled with a lotus and its petals once had Tamil letters engraved on them (Paranavitana, 1970). A number of stone seat inscriptions of King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) written in this style have been found at Polonnaruwa and other places in Sri Lanka (Paranavitana, 1970).

Content
The script and the language of the inscription are Sinhala of the second half of the 12th century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1970). Although it is not dated, the inscription contains a eulogy of a king styled Kalinga Chakravarti (Paranavitana, 1970). This king who has been identified as King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa is referred to in the chronicle Culavamsa by the name Kitti Nissanka and in his inscriptions by the name of Nissankamalla with additions of various epithets (Paranavitana, 1970).

Although this inscription is not fully readable, it contains some details about Nissankamalla's tours of inspections within his kingdom, the Tulabhara gifts (donations of wealth equal to his weight), the unification of Sangha, the restoration of Mahathupa at Anuradhapura, the standardization of the grain-tax, the introduction of copper-plate grants, the expedition to the Pandya country and the construction of a shrine at Rameswaram (Paranavitana, 1970). Details similar to this have been found in a number of his inscriptions (see: Kiri Vehera Slab Inscription, Dambulla Rock Inscription, Galpota Inscription) established in various parts of Sri Lanka (Wickremasinghe, 1912; Wickremasinghe, 1928). As further revealed in the Rameswaram inscription, Nissankamalla has visited the islands of Puvagu (modern Pungudutivu), Mininak (Maninaga), Kappa and Kara (modern Karaitivu) during his expeditions within the realm (Paranavitana, 1970).

References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Ramesvaram inscription of Nissankamalla. Epigraphia Indica. Vol. XXXVI. pp.23-32.
2) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.121-135. 
3) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.98-123. 

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Panadura Rankoth Viharaya

Rankoth Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Panadura in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

History
The beginning
The temple was established in 1810 as a small cottage (Abeyawardana, 2002). According to folklore, this temple has been built on a ground that gives victory for the weaker party. It is said that the residents in the area thought to establish a temple on this ground after seeing an attack on a cobra by a multitude of frogs (Abeyawardana, 2002). In the beginning, the temple was called Galwala Pansala or Galkande Vihara, but after the painting of the pinnacle of the Stupa in gold in the year 1890, it was begun to know as Rankoth Vihara which means the "Gold-pinnacled temple" (Abeyawardana, 2002). Before the end of the 19th century, the temple developed into a fully-fledged Vihara in the area. The two-storey residence of monks was built in 1886 and the works of the Stupa were finished in 1894 (Abeyawardana, 2002).
 
Panadura-vadaya
The preliminary discussions before the commencement of the popular debate between Buddhism and Christianity called Panadura-vadaya (1873) are said to have been held at the premises of this temple. The cause for this debate arose when Walpita Gunaratana Tissa Thera, the then incumbent of Rankoth Vihara was compelled to address the arguments raised by the nearby Wesleyan Chapel against the Buddhist faith (Abeyawardana, 2002). These arguments finally led the Buddhist monks to come together and hold an open debate between the two parties; Christians and Buddhists. The debate was held at Panadura on two days in August 1873 and Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera (1823-1890) represented the side of the Buddhists as the main debater (Goonatilake, 2004).

The impact of the debate was phenomenal, both locally and internationally. Reports on this historic debate were published in the outside world and as a result of that some western personalities such as Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), the co-founder of the Theosophical Society, came to Sri Lanka and heavily involved in reviving Buddhism in the country (Goonatilake, 2004). He visited Rankoth Viharaya in May 1880 (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The Pirivena
Rankoth Viharaya also gained its recognition as a prominent education centre of Buddhist learning. Beruwala Sri Niwasa Thera, Kahandamodara Sri Piyaratna Thera, Ambalangoda Dhammakusala Thera were a few scholarly monks graduated from the Pirivena of Rankoth Viharaya (Abeyawardana, 2002). This temple was also served as the residence of the renowned Mahayana and Sanskrit scholar Prof. Moratuwa Sasararatna Thera (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The temple
The temple today is a fully-fledged Buddhist place of worship. The temple ground comprises two terraces, the upper and lower. The Stupa, Bodhi tree, image house, belfry, and a library are located on the upper terrace while the dwellings of monks and other ancillary buildings are on the lower terrace. 

The image house
The image house (or the Buddha shrine) of Rankoth Viharaya is archaeologically important. It consists of two parts; the inner shrine and the walled ambulatory area around it. The facade of the image house is highly decorated with plaster mouldings. The walls and the ceiling of the ambulatory have been filled with paintings depicting Jataka stories, hell, and life stories of the Buddha such as Mara Parajaya (the defeat of Mara), Buddha Chithakaya (the cremation of the Buddha), and Datu Bedima (the distribution of relics).

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine of Panadura Rankot Vihare situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 686-B-Pattiya South, in the Panadura Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government notification published on 6 June 2008.

References
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.  pp.98-99.
2) Goonatilake, S., 2004. Pānadurā Vādaya and Its Consequences: Mischievous Association with Fundamentalism. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 49, pp.87-118. 
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.
 
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