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.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Thuparamaya, Anuradhapura

Thuparama Stupa
Thuparamaya is an ancient Buddhist monastery complex in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. It is situated about 0.55 km north of the Ruvanweliseya Stupa and near to the Abhaya Wewa tank. Thuparama is identified as the first historic Stupa with a monastery established in Sri Lanka (Wikramagamage, 2004).

History
The history of the Thuparama shrine is going back to the pre-Christian era. According to chronicles, a temple dedicated to the Yakkha named Maheja had been erected here by King Pandukabhaya (437-367 A.D.). Following the introduction of Buddhism to the country by Arhant Mahinda Thera, King Devanampiyatissa (307-267 B.C.) built the Thuparama Stupa on this site as the first Buddhist structure in Sri Lanka. It is believed that the right collar-bone of the Buddha has been enshrined in this Stupa (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The monastery received the royal patronage of many kings such as King Gajabahu I (c. 113-135 A.D.), King Vasabha (67-111 A.D.) and King Gotabhaya (249-263 A.D.). However, during the 10th century, the site was completely destroyed by the Cola invaders (Jayasuriya, 2016) but subsequently renovated by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1188 A.D.).

Palumekichchawa inscription
An inscription by King Gajabahu I is found engraved on a rock surface at the Vana (the spillway) of the Palumekichchawa tank (Wickremasinghe. 1912). According to the inscription, King Gamini Abhaya (King Gajabahu I) had spent 5,000 karsapanas on the excavation of the Vadamanaka Tank in the Upala district and granted it to the community of Buddhist monks at the Thuparamaya (Wickremasinghe, 1912).

Stupa
The original Thuparama Stupa is said to be in the shape of a heap of paddy (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Time to time, the Stupa was renovated by several kings including King Vasabha and King Gotabhaya. King Vasabha is said to have covered the Stupa chamber with a stone of wall and King Gotabhaya subsequently built a relic chamber for it. The last restoration of the Stupa was done in 1862 and as a result of that, the Stupa has taken the shape of a bell.

The present Stupa is 18.9 m in height and has a circumference of 17.7 m (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Cetiyaghara/ Vatadageya
The remaining stone pillars around the Thuparama Stupa indicate that it once had a Cetiyaghara, a house enclosing the Stupa. The roof over the Stupa is not found today but the supportive stone pillars in four concentric circles provide the evidence for its existence. The pillars are elegantly carved and fixed to the ground in a symmetric manner.

This Cetiyaghara is believed to be added to the Stupa after the 7th century A.D. (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Artifacts
Bodhisattva Maitreya
Bodhisattva Maitreya
This ungilt, bronze statue was discovered from Thuparama Vatadage complex and presently on the display at the National Museum of Colombo. The statue is 46.7 cm tall and has been dated to the 9-10th centuries A.D.

The Bodhisattva is standing on a circular-shaped base in a relaxed posture. The body is bent at three places, namely the shoulder, the waist, and the knee and therefore called as a Thivanka (meaning three bends) statue. The raised right hand of the statue depicts Katakahasta mudra while the lowered left hand shows Varada mudra. The lower body is covered by a dhoti held in position by moderately used looped sashes. The head is dressed with a bejewelled crown Karandamakuta. The statue is adorned with a number of jewelries including necklaces, bracelets and anklets.
Reference: The National Museum of Colombo.

Attribution
1) Thuparamaya Stupa by Nipuna Gamage is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.51-52.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.74-79.
3) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, I). Published for the government of Ceylon by Henry Frowde. pp.208-211.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 February 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Samadhi Buddha Statue, Anuradhapura

Samadhi Buddha, Anuradhapura
The archaic Buddha image famously known as the Anuradhapura Samadhi Buddha Statue is found on the outer circular road (the Watawandana road) between Kuttam Pokuna and Abhayagiri Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This statue is considered as one of the finest specimens of Buddha statues in Sri Lanka as well as in the Buddhist world (Jayasuriya, 2016).

History
Sculptured in Gupta style, the statue is supposed to be a creation that belongs to the period between 5-6 centuries A.D.

Statue
Samadhi statue
The statue which is in the Samadhi posture (the posture of deep meditation) and theVirasana (the seat of enlightenment) is completely carved out of stone. The body of the Buddha is covered by a flimsy robe but, it does not cover the right shoulder. The right leg of the statue lies over the left leg and the palms are placed one over the other on the lap. The hair has curls but the Usnisha (the matted lock of hair) is absent (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is said that the original image was a painted statue with inlaid eyes (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004).

The statue was discovered in the present location fallen to the ground with damages to the nose.

Bodhi-tree shrine
Before the construction of image houses, the Buddha statues were usually placed under the shade of a Bodhi-tree. Therefore, it can be assumed that this Samadhi Statue also an example of such an image. Presently, no Bodhi-tree is found at the place but there are signs of a Bodhi-tree that was standing behind the statue. The square-shaped pit where the Bodhi-tree was planted has also been discovered.

The worship of Bodhi-tree became prevalent in Sri Lanka after the arrival of Theri Sanghamitta who brought a sapling of the Bodhi-tree (India) in the 3rd century B.C. (Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997). Within a short time, every temple had its own Bodhi-tree and that led the people to develop and construct a special type of building around the tree called Bodhighara (Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997).

The ruined Bodhighara which has been unearthed near the Samadhi Statue is said to be one of the four ancient Bodhi-tree shrines that belonged to the Abhayagiri monastery complex. Evidence is there to show that this Bodhi-tree shrine had four Buddha statues facing the four cardinal points (Jayasuriya, 2016). Besides the Samadhi Statue, ruins of another Buddha statue (only the portion below the waist) have been found from the site.

The ruins of the other Buddha state The Buddha statue The Buddha statue and the Bodhi-tree shrine
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Attribution
1) Samadhi Buddha statue - Anuradhapura by Hafiz Issadeen is licensed under CC BY 2.0
2) This image (SAMADI.PILIMAYA.1870) has been released into the public domain.
3) Buddha statue remains, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by R Barraez D´Lucca is licensed under CC BY 2.0
4) SRL-anuradhapura-samadi-buddha by Balou46 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
5) Anuradhapura WV banner by Saqib is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.30-31.
2) Wijesuriya, G.; Weerasekera, H., 1997. Footprints of our heritage. Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. ISBN: 955-9043-32-3. pp.57,156.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.110.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 February 2020
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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Gamini Kularatna Memorial

Gamini Kularatna Memorial
Gamini Kularatna Memorial (also known as Hasalaka Gamini Ranaviru Smarakaya) has been erected to commemorate S/34553 Corporal Gamini Kularatna YG PWV, a soldier of Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment who sacrifices his life to save his camp and the comrades from a deadly bulldozer attack carried out by LTTE rebels (LTTE is a rebel group designated as a terrorist organization by 32 countries). The memorial has been set up on the wayside of the Kandy-Jaffna highway (A9), near to the Elephant Pass Railway Station in Kilinochchi District, Sri Lanka.

The war hero Gamini Kularatna is popularly known among the people as Hasalaka Gamini.

The incident
Elephant Pass
Elephant Pass is referred to as the Gateway to Jaffna as it connects the Jaffna Peninsula to the Sri Lankan mainland and therefore considered strategically important location. The Elephant Pass army camp which belonged to the 6th Battalion Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment was also a crucial point to hold in war, so LTTE rebels tried to attack it in 1991.

The attack
On 13 July 1991, an armor-plated bulldozer heavily filled with explosives was launched towards the Elephant Pass camp by the LTTE to destroy the camp as well as the many soldiers who were there. However, the effort by the LTTE became unsuccessful when a soldier who had realized the gravity of the imminent threat that was advancing towards the camp decided voluntarily to destroy the bulldozer in order to save the camp as well as his comrades. That soldier, Gamini Kularatna went forward with hand grenades and blasted the deadly vehicle while losing his own life in the process.

This bravery sacrifice by Gamini Kularatne was highly appreciated at the time across the country. In recognition of his sacrifice, the Sri Lankan president awarded the Parama Weera Vibushana Medal (Posthumously), the highest decoration a soldier can earn, to Gamini making him the first recipient of that gallant award.

The memorial
The Sri Lanka Civil War finally came to the end when LTTE rebels were defeated by the government forces in 2009. After the war was over, a memorial for Gamini was set up in 2014, in Elephant Pass with the remains of the bulldozer he destroyed. The memorial can be seen on the A9 road on the way to Jaffna.

The deadly bulldozer Gamini Kularatna statue
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Location Map

This page was last updated on 16 February 2020
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Ranamune Pihilla and Ambalama

The Ranamune Pihilla & Ambalama
The Ranamune Pihilla (the Ranamune water spout) and the Ambalama are situated in Kothmale in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

Ranamune Pihilla
Folklore
According to folklore, the history of this place is related to Prince Dutugemunu [(reign 161-137 B.C.) Abeywardana, 2004]. It is said that the sward of the prince had been hidden for protection when he comes from Ruhuna to Maya Rata seeking shelter. After the death of King Kavantissa (the farther of Prince Dutugemunu), the prince had to leave for war having taken the sward from this spot (Abeywardana, 2004). The same folklore is found associated with Dehadu Kadulla, an ancient monument located near to Kothmale Maha Seya.

Presently, many people come to this place for washing and bathing purposes.

Ranamune Ambalama 
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were traveling to distant places. The Ambalama at Ranamune is believed to be one such resting place built with granite blocks. The building is relatively small and contains an open space surrounded by a short wall. The four-sided roof which is held by four pillars has been tiled with clay tiles.

A protected site
The Mawela Ranamune Ambalama and water pipe situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Mawela West, in Kotmale Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  pp.233-234.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.526.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 16 February 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pallama Standing Buddha Statue, Colombo National Museum

Pallama Standing Buddha
The Pallama Standing Buddha Statue was discovered from Pallama in Puttalam District, Sri Lanka and is currently on display at the entrance lobby of the Colombo National Museum. This statue is considered important as it is the tallest metal Buddha statue found in Sri Lanka (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

Statue
This hollow cast bronze statue of Buddha is 165 cm (5.41 ft) height and in the standing position. The right hand of the statue depicts the Vitarka Mudra and the left hand is in the pose of Katakahastha (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The robe is closely touching the full body of Buddha but leaves the right shoulder bare. The pleats of the robe are denoted by clear lines. The ears are long but do not touch the shoulders.

The statue has been dated to the 9-11th centuries A.D. (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). It is said that the statue had been broken into several pieces at the time of its discovery (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

References
1) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.6.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 15 February 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Mayakkai Vivaparimalai Prehistoric Site

Mayakkai Vivaparimalai Prehistoric Site is situated in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

The Mayakkai site with limestone-caves located near to Point Pedro is said to be observed for the first time in 1979 by Prof. Sellaiah Krishnarajah, an academic from the University of Jaffna (Dias et al., 2016). Krishnarajah along with Prof. P. Pushparatnam and several others explored the site again in 1984 and found a number of stone implements related to human settlement (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). From the overall evidence found, they suggested the cave site as a prehistoric habitation site but that opinion was refuted by another academic from the University of Jaffna, Prof. P. Ragupathy who believed the site is not a prehistoric habitation site but a stone quarry site (Dias et al., 2016).

The stone implements collected by Krishnarajah were not extensively investigated by other academics due to several reasons such as the Sri Lankan Civil War that longed nearly three decades across the North-Eastern region of the country. However, in 2011, the samples were taken to Colombo and further studied by several scholars including Siran Deraniyagala and Nimal Perera (Dias et al., 2016). The studies identified the stone implements as the tools belonging to the ancient Stone Age (Dias et al., 2016).

The early evidence about the humans in Sri Lanka are found in several places in the country such as in Ratnapura Beds and in Iranamadu Formation (Perera, 2014). A large bifacially flaked quartz point which was found from a basal gravel exposure of the Iranamadu Formation at Minihagal-Kanda (a place located in Southern Sri Lanka) has been categorized as Middle Palaeolithic (broadly spanned from 300,000 to 30,000 years) by P. E. P. Deraniyagala (Perera, 2014). However, according to some, the age of the stone implements of Mayakkai site is extending to about 600,000 years back (Dias et al., 2016). Some Chert-made stone implements found from the site are believed as the Acheulean tools used by Homo erectus in the Lower Palaeolithic Period [(around 3 million to 300,000 years) Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014].

However, no reliable evidence has yet been documented with regard to the Lower Palaeolithic Period of Sri Lanka (Perera, 2014). Therefore, carrying out a scientific excavation is important to obtain a proper understanding about the stone implements found from the Mayakkai Vivaparimalai site.

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.162, 200-201.
2) Perera, H.N., 2014. Prehistoric Sri Lanka. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, pp.23-41.
3) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.2-3.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 15 February 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Sennarugama Pillar Inscription of King Kassapa IV

Sennarugama Pillar Inscription of King Kassapa IVSennarugama Pillar Inscription of King Kassapa IV is a pillar inscription found in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. The inscription is presently on the display at the stone gallery of the Colombo National Museum.

Discovery
This inscription was discovered from somewhere (the exact place is unknown) in Anuradhapura (Ranawella, 2005). However, according to its content, this record had been originally set up at a place called Sennarugama, a village probably situated near to Anuradhapura (Ranawella, 2005).

The pillar had been broken into two fragments at the time its discovery and therefore, they were treated as two different inscriptions by the museum (Ranawella, 2005). However, presently, the two fragments have been joined together and numbered as a single inscription.

Inscription
The inscription has been inscribed on all four sides of a rectangular stone pillar of about 6 ft 8 in. in height (Ranawella, 2005).

Content
The pillar had been used in a later period as a riser in a flight of steps and in which process some of the letters have been chiseled off. The first side of the pillar has 20 lines of writings, second and third sides have 30 lines of writings and the forth side contains 25 lines of writings (Ranawella, 2005). The figures of a crow and a dog are also found on the forth side of the inscription (Ranawella, 2005).

The inscription mentions its inscribe date as the sixth regnal year of a king styled Abha Salamevan (Ranawella, 2005). Depending on the details found in the chronicles and other epigraphs, scholars have identified this king as Kassapa IV [(898-914 A.D.) Ranawella, 2005].

Sennarugama Pillar Inscription of King Kassapa IV
Reign  : King Kassapa IV (898-914 A.D.)
Period : 10th century A.D.
Script  : Sinhala of the early 10th century
Language  : Sinhala of the early 10th century
Transcript  : (1)Svasti (2)Siri Lak(di)- (3)-vhi pihi(ti) (4)yasa isi...>>
Content: This inscription records about some immunities granted in respect of a village named Sennarugama, the revenue of which had been enjoyed by a person called Besatpanam, a warden of the royal household. Certain officers were forbidden to enter the village.  
Reference  : Ranawella, 2005.

References
1) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.29-36.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 15 February 2020
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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Kal Munai Old Survey Tower

Kal Munai Old Survey Tower is a colonial period survey tower located in Kilinochchi District, Sri Lanka. 

Kal Munai Old Survey Tower
The tower which is square in shape has been built with cubic shape cut limestone rocks. At the bottom of the tower, an arch shaped passage can be seen.  The tower is getting smaller as it rises from the bottom to the top.

A protected monument
The old survey post belonging to Kalmunei village situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. KN 68, Kavutharimunei in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Poonaryn is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 24 March 2016.

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1960. 30 December 2011. p.229.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 4 February 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map