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.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Parakrama Samudra, Polonnaruwa

Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra (lit: Sea of Parakrama) is a large man-made irrigation reservoir in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

This shallow reservoir (Z max= 12.7 m) which is extending in an area about 25.5 km2 is considered as one of the larger reservoir of an ancient irrigation system (Schiemer, 2012). It has a natural catchment area of about 75 km2 located on the western side of the lake (Schiemer, 2012). The same side is bordered by the Sudukanda ridge (Schiemer, 2012). The reservoir is mainly fed by a channel from the Amban Ganga river and the inflow is regulated by the anicut at Angamedilla (Schiemer, 2012).

Parakrama Samudraya is said to be a result of connecting three original reservoirs (Schiemer, 2012). The northernmost reservoir is the oldest and referred to as Topa Wewa built around 386 A.D. (Schiemer, 2012). The middle part represents the Eramudu Wewa and the southernmost part is the Dumbutula Wewa. The middle and southern parts of the reservoir were constructed during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great [(1153-1183 A.D.) Schiemer, 1981]. The dam of the middle part was destroyed in 1854 and the area subsequently swallowed by the forest (Schiemer, 1981). In 1945, the dam was reconstructed (Schiemer, 1981).

  • Reservoir data

    Length of bund : 12.38 km
    Bund height (Max.) : 9.45 m
    Catchment area : 71.71 km2
    Area at full supply level : 2539.50 Ha.
    Capacity at f. s. l. : 134.07x106 m3
    Dead storage : 18.45x106 m3
  • Sluice & spill data

    No of sluices : Three - (I), (II), (III)
    Sill level : [(I) 51.51 m, (II) 51.82 m, (III) 51.82 M.S.L.]
    Max discharge : (I) 13.02 m3/s, (II) 4.53 m3/s, (III) 1.41 m3/s.
    Spills : Natural (N) and Radial gates (RG)
    Sill level : (N) 59.30 m, (RG) 59.15 m
    Length : (N) 121.96 m, (RG) 30.48 m

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References
1) Schiemer, F., 1981. Parakrama Samudra (Sri Lanka) Project, a study of a tropical lake ecosystem I. An interim review: With 3 figures and 1 table in the text. Internationale Vereinigung für theoretische und angewandte Limnologie: Verhandlungen, 21(2), pp.987-993.
2) Schiemer, F., 2012. Limnology of Parakrama Samudra—Sri Lanka: A case study of an ancient man-made lake in the tropics (Vol. 12). Springer Science & Business Media. pp.1,4-5.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Dipa Uyana, Polonnaruwa

Deepa Uyana
Dipa Uyana (lit: the Island Park) is an archaeological site situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. 

History
This site has been identified as the Dipa Uyana (the Island Park) built by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.). King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) built his audience hall within this park and renamed it as the Kaling Uyana (the Kalinga Park). 

The site
The site is located to the west of the walls of the Palace of Parakramabahu the Great and extends up to the verge of the Parakrama Samudra reservoir (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruins of many important monuments including the Council Chamber of Nissankamalla are found located within this premises. To the extreme south of the site is a bathing pond which could be the Ananta Naga Pokuna built by King Parakramabahu the Great. The water to the pond had been supplied from the Parakrama Samudra reservoir by using a conduit (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruins of a building, probably a summer house is found on a small nearby island located in the Parakrama Samudra reservoir (Wikramagamage, 2004). 

References
1) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.204-205.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Naigala Raja Maha Viharaya

Naigala Viharaya
Naigala Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Weeraketiya in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

History
Naigala Viharaya
The ruins of many ancient structures and monuments such as pillared buildings, Siri Pathul Gal (the Buddha's footprint), urinal stones, Korawak Gal (balustrades), molded stone slabs, Sandakada Pahana (moonstone), Yupa stones (stone pillar of a Stupa) have been found from the Naigala temple. A two-storied image house that belonging to the Anuradhapura period was excavated and conserved in 2013, by the Department of Archaeology. The building is quadrangle in shape and had been built as an image house of Gandhakuti tradition. The Buddha image is believed to be placed in the center of this building.

Among the ruins, there is a carved circular-shaped stone vessel. It is believed that this artifact could be one of vessels that used to hide the Tooth Relic of the Buddha by Sugala Devi during the Polonnaruwa period.

Besides the structural ruins, two rock inscriptions dating back to the 3rd-5th centuries A.D. have also been found in the temple premises.

Inscriptions
Naigala rock inscription no. 1 
Naigala rock inscriptions
This rock inscription was copied by the Department of Archaeology in 1929 (Dias, 1991).
Period: 3rd-4th centuries A.D.
Scripts: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Content: This inscription records about a gift of Kahapanas given for the festival of Ariyavansa at Kala-pavata (Kala Parvata) monastery. The inscription can not be read completely due to its worn condition.
Reference: Dias, 1991.

Naigala rock inscription no. 2
Naigala rock inscriptions
Period: 4th-5th centuries A.D.
Script: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Content: The slaves of the Kala-pavata (Kala Parvata) temple were freed from their compulsory service by the monk of Mahawaka who donated one hundred Kahavanu coins. The merit of this action was to be shared by all beings
References: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage. 

Modern image house
The modern image house of the Naigala temple has a number of paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan style. It has been built in 1880.

A protected site
The ancient monuments of Naigala Purana Vihara (marked in the land plots 9c, 10 & 11 of the village plan no. 244) situated in the village of Agrahara in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Weeraketiya are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 4 June 2004.

Naigala temple Naigala Viharaya Naigala temple Naigala Viharaya
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References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp. 71,75.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1344. 4 June 2004. p.15.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya

Maligatenna Viharaya
Maligatenna Viharaya/ Aranya Senasanaya is a Buddhist temple/ a forest monastery located in Malwathuhiripitiya village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
Maligatenna Viharaya
A number of drip-ledged caves have been found from the temple premises. The caves are believed to be there as the abodes of Buddhist monks since the B.C. era. The other cave temples located in the vicinity of the Maligatenna Viharaya such as Uruwala, Pilikuttuwa, Warana, Miriswatta, and Koskandawala have clear archaeological evidence dating back to the pre-Christian era and therefore it has been assumed that this cluster of cave temples including the Maligatenna have existed as one major cave site during the early Anuradhapura period.

In one of the caves, a decorated stone door-frame has been found. Depending on its morphological features some believe that it is a work belongs to the 8th century A.D. Besides that, on the surface of the summit of the Maligatenna rock, a number of rock-carved holes used to install the pillars (probably the pillars of an ancient structure) have been identified. A Bodhi-tree surrounded by a rampart is also found on the rock summit.

The present temple and the forest monastery was established in this ancient site in 1924 with the efforts of a Buddhist monk named Menikdivela Sri Devananda Thera.

Folklore
As mentioned in the legends related to the cave temples of Pilikuttuwa and Asgiriya, the caves of the Maligatenna temple are also said to be used by King Valagamba as a hideout during the reign of the Five Dravidians (five Indian invaders who ruled Anuradhapura Kingdom from 103 to 88 B.C.). It is also believed by the locals that the Tooth Relic of the Buddha which was in the custody of Hiripitiye Diyawadana Nilame was kept here before it was carried to the temple at Delgamuwa during the 16th century.

A protected site
The rock caves in the lower courtyard and the pathway wall in the upper courtyard and flight of steps known as Degaldoruwa of the Maligatenna Aranya Senasana situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 297-Malwathuhiripitiya, in the Mahara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Maligatenna temple Maligatenna Viharaya
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Buddha Walawwa, Nagadeepa

Buddha Walawwa Viharaya
Buddha Walawwa Viharaya is a small Buddhist temple located about 950 m away from the Purana Nagadeepa Viharaya in the island of Nagadeepa (Tamil: Nainativu), Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Folklore
Buddha Walawwa statue
Locals believe that Buddha Walawwa was one of the places visited by Manimekalai, a Buddhist nun who is mentioned in Manimekalai, a great epic of the Indian Tamil literature composed in about the 6th century. According to Manimekalai, the Buddhist nun Manimekalai was taken without her knowledge to the island of Manipallawam (believed to be present Nagadeepa/Nainativu island) by a goddess named Manimekhala. On the island, Manimekalai found herself alone and confused by this sudden happening. But later she experienced a series of incidents related to the Buddha, and several other miraculous things (Manimekalai: Cantos VIII-XI).

In the present day, there are some places on this island with the names related to the Buddha such as Buddha Pallanka, Buddha Thottam, and Buddha Karni. The Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya, the main Buddhist shrine in Nagadeepa reveals the strong relation of the island to the Buddha. According to the Pali chronicle Mahawamsa, the Buddha visited Nagadeepa after five years of attaining Enlightenment to settle a dispute that occurred between two Naga kings, Chulodara and Mahodara. The Tamil epic Manimekhalai also describes the Buddha's intervene in settling a dispute between two Naga princes over a gem-set throne seat on an island known as Manipallavam.

The temple site
The present temple has been built on a land where a stone sculptured Buddha statue was unearthed. The land was originally a property of a Tamil man and later it was bought from him by a Buddhsit monk named Dhammakittitissa Thera.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya

Yathurugehuliyadda temple
Yathurugehuliyadda Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Mawela village in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

Folklore
According to folklore, this area has been used by Prince Dutugemunu (reigned: ) for the threshing of paddy from the fields cultivated by him at Rajatalawela (Abeywardana, 2004). It is said that the Kulla (winnowing fan) thrown by the prince was fallen on this spot (Abeywardana, 2004). In the paddy farming lexicon, Kulla is called Yathura and therefore, the name of this area, Yathurugehuliyadda, may have some relation with there folklore.

The temple
Yathurugahuliyadda temple
The present temple consists of a Stupa, an image house, a preaching hall, a Bodh-tree, and monk dwellings. Among them, the image house and the preaching hall are considered as archaeologically important monuments. The image house is thought to be a work belonging to the Kandyan Period (Wijesinghe, 2015). It has been built on an elevated platform and has two sections: the inner shrine and the outer ambulatory. The ambulatory is open but bounded with a half-height wall.

The walls of the ambulatory are covered with paintings depicting the Jataka stories and episodes related to the hell (Wijesinghe, 2015). The front wall is decorated with sculpted Makara Thorana (the dragon arch) accompanied by the figures of deities, guardians and lions. Above the entrance door, the date 2454 B.E (1910 A.D.) is mentioned. This date may represents its construction or the last restoration date.

The inner shrine also contains paintings and sculptures of the Kandyan style. A Samadhi Buddha statue, a few standing statues, deities such as Visnu, Saman, Kataragama and Dedimunda are found in the shrine room (Wijesinghe, 2015).

Besides the main monuments, a few granite artifacts including a large carved Siri Pathul Gala (the footprint of the Buddha) and granite oil lamps are found in the temple premises.

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine, the Dhamma discourse hall and ancient monuments of the Yathurugasu Liyedde Vihara situated in Maswela village in the Grama Niladhari Division of Maswela, in Kotmale Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Yathurugehuliyadda temple Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya
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References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.233.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.526.
3) Wijesinghe, T.K., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Nuwara Eliya Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-36-4. pp.64-65.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Maradana Railway Station

Maradana Railway Station
Maradana Railway Station is considered as one of the earliest railway stations in Sri Lanka.

History
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 seaport 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 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). In 1867, the railway station at Peradeniya was built.

Maradana railway station
The history of the Maradana railway station can be traced up to the late 19th century. At the time Maradana was a rural area and only a few buildings were there such as the Maradana Mosque and the old army barrack that had been established on the land where the present Maradana Police Station stands. In 1887, a 12 ft x 8 ft sized wooden-framed room was installed at Maradana as a station for issuing the rail tickets and on 12 June 1893, it was upgraded to a complete railway station (Manathunga, 2016). The location of the station became more important when the Coastal Line was built in 1897 and as a result of that the station was more developed by constructing the present Maradana railway station building. The construction of the building was commenced in 1905 and declared open in 1908 as the main railway station in the country (Manathunga, 2016). The construction works of the building was, however, fully finished in 1910.

Maradana was the main railway station in the country until the Colombo Fort Railway Station was built in 1917 (Manathunga, 2016).

The station
The present railway station consists of 10 platforms.
          Platform 1 & 2   - Main line and Puttalam line trains
          Platform 3 & 4   - Main line and Puttalam line trains
          Platform 5 & 6   - Coastal line trains, rest rooms, toilets, cafeteria, control rooms and offices
          Platform 7 & 8   - Coastal line trains
          Platform 9 & 10 - Coastal line and Kelani Valley line trains

Maradana Railway Station Maradana Railway Station
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Attribution
1) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img35 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
2) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img33 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
3) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img34 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3

References
1) Abeysinghe, A.H.M.S.P., 2016. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ දුම්රිය කාර්මික පුරාවිද්‍යාව; නව මානයක් කරා රැගෙන යමු. Puraveda 2016.2) 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.
3) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.61-62.

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bathalegala

Batalegala
Bathalegala (also known as Bible Rock) is a rock located in Hathgampola in the Aranayaka Division, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka (Abeyawardana, 2002). Rising to a height of about 2618 ft (797.96 m) above sea level, the rock has presently become a popular place suitable for hiking (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The rock is triangular in shape when it is viewed from the Aranayaka area (Abeyawardana, 2002). During the British Period (British Ceylon: 1815-1948 A.D.), the rock is called the Bible Rock because it has an appearance similar to the shape of a book/Bible (Abeyawardana, 2002). However, the view from Balana near the famous Kadugannawa Tunnel on the Colombo-Kandy main road is very popular among the people as it instantly remind everyone the shape of the more famous Sigiriya rock.

Folklore
According to folklore, Batalegala has got its name because, a pot of rice has turned to blood red color at this spot (Abeyawardana, 2002). In the Sinhala Language Batalegala can be interpreted as; Bata (rice): le (blood): gala (the rock). However, another story suggests that the rock so named because it resembles the shape of a sweet potato (Abeyawardana, 2002).

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.76-77.

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