Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. have been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Nuwara Eliya Post Office Building

Nuwara Eliya Post Office Building
Nuwara Eliya Post Office Building is an old building located in Queen Elizabeth Drive in the Administrative Limits of Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka. It is one of the oldest post offices established in the country.

Building
Constructed in 1894, the building typically resembles architectural features belong to Britain (Wijesinghe, 2015). The red coloured bricks, stripes as well as the roof have given a nice appearance to this two storied building. The three storied clock tower is end with a pyramidal shaped roof and its clock is worked by an automated electric system (Wijesinghe, 2015).

A protected monument
The post office building bearing Assessment No. 50 in Nuwara Eliya Administrative Limits is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007. 
Nuwara Eliya Post Office Building Nuwara Eliya Post Office Building
References
1) Wijesinghe, T.K., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Nuwara Eliya Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-36-4. p.83.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.126.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya

The image house, Dowa temple
Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Dowa in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Bandarawela - Badulla road about 6 km distance from Bandarawela town.

History
According to the local beliefs the huge and partially carved Buddha statue at Dowa temple is a work belonging to the reign King Valagamba [(103 B.C. and c. 89–77 B.C.) de Jayawardena, 2015].

Buddha statue
The rock cut Buddha statue, Dowa temple
An incomplete Buddha statue of about 11 m (36 feet) tall is found carved on the surface of a large rock boulder located south to the image house (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). It is believed that this statue was erected during the reign of King Valagamba in the 1st century B.C. Depending on these local beliefs, some authors (such as de. Jayawardena, 2015) point out that this statue could be the oldest statue in Sri Lanka.

Image house
The image house of the temple can be identified as the main monument of archaeological interest. It mainly consists of three chambers and is filled with the paintings belonging to the Kandyan era (1469-1815 C.E.). 

On the sides of the main entrance to the image house, figures of two demons, Kuwera and Vatuka are found (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The walls of the outer chamber is filled with the paintings depicting the Jataka stories of Buddha such as Vessantara, Telapatta, Dammapala etc. (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The canopy of the image house is decorated with various floral and other diagrams. Among them, the painting called as Ath-Gon Satana (battle between a tusker and a bull) is considered special. In the inner chamber, two reclining Buddha images, one standing and one seated Buddha statues are found.

A small Stupa of about 10 feet height is found at the rear part of the image house. A tunnel mouth which has been closed today is also found aside of the Stupa. The cave is about 15 ft in height and about 5 ft in width (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). It is believed that this tunnel may had been used in ancient times by the royal people for their safe journeys (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).

A protected site
The image house with ancient paintings at Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya located in Divisional Secretary’s Division of Bandarawela is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.  
The Stupa Reclining Buddha statue Kandyan era paintings An inscription ?

References
1) de Jayawardena, U.S., 2015. A Study on the present states of different rocks of ancient monuments in Sri Lanka. G. Lollino et al. (eds.), Engineering Geology for Society and Territory Volume 8. Springer International Publishing Switzerland. pp. 43-46.
2) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.16-18.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.

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This page was last updated on 5 October 2019

Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya

Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya, Badulla
Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya (also known as Puswelayata Pattini Devalaya) is a shrine located in the village of Lindamulla in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Demodara-Spring Valley road about 1.5 km distance from Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya.

Shrine
The shrine is dedicated to Pattini, the patron goddess of fertility and health. The main shrine houses the image of Pattini and the part known as Maligawa (or Uda Mahala) is used to place the jewelries of the goddess. At the entrance of the main shrine is a Makara Thorana (the Dragon arch) with two figures of guards (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The outer walls of the shrine are decorated with several paintings of gods such as Kiwle Gedara Aluth Deviyo, Dedimunda Bandara Deviyo (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). A stone bawl inscribed with Sanskrit scripts is found in the compound of Devalaya (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).

A protected monument
Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya located in the Grama Niladari Division of 78 E Gurugamuwa in Divisional Secretary’s Division of Badulla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 7 July 2005.  
Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya Lindamulla Pattini Devalaya
References
1) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.40-41.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1401. 7 July 2005. 

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This page was last updated on 26 June 2019

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Lovamahapaya

Lovamahapaya
Lovamahapaya (also known as Loha Pasada or Brazen Palace) is an ancient structure situated in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It can be found standing between Ruwanweliseya and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya. It is also one of eight sacred places in Anuradhapura.

History
Lovamahapaya is an Uposathaghara (the place where Buddhist monks are gathered for the ceremony of confession and for the performance of various Sangha-Kammas) constructed by King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.) in the 2nd century B.C. (Ray, 1959).  It was a wooden construction and said to be had 1000 rooms. According to Mahawamsa, it had nine stories and a roof covered with bronze tiles.

During the reign of King Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.), the building was burnt down in a fire and was re-erected by the king as a seven storey structure (Fernando, 1965). During the time of King Sirinaga I (196-215 C.E.), the building was in a decayed state and had been re-structured to contain five stories (Wikramagamage, 2004).

After having a conflict with the monks of Maha Viharaya, King Mahasena (277-304 C.E.) had destroyed the Lovamahapaya and the materials of the building were given to the Abhayagiri Viharaya (Wikramagamage, 2004). However, King Sirimevan (304-332 C.E.), the son of King Mahasena re-constructed building again (Wikramagamage, 2004). 

It was again destroyed when South Indian invaders sacked the city in the late 10th century or early 11th century C.E. (Gunawardena, 2003). The stone pillars at present we can see at the site are the remains of the structure erected during the 12th century by King Parakramabahu the Great [(1123-1186 C.E.) Ray, 1959].

Structure
At present, a large number of stone pillars (said to be about 1600 pillars) can be seen at the site. Most of the pillars are rising 12 feet above the ground and have been fixed to the ground in a systematic manner. The small building standing in the center of the site is the modern Uposathagharaya built for the monks of Maha Viharaya (Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997).

References
1) Fernando, W.M., 1965. Ancient city of Anuradhapura. Archaeological Department. p.8.
2) Gunawardena, C.A., 2003. Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd. ISBN: 81-207-2536-0. pp.40-41.
3) Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief), 1959. History of Ceylon: Vol. I: Part I. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. p.263.
4) Wijesuriya, G.; Weerasekera, H., 1997. Footprints of our heritage. Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. ISBN: 955-9043-32-3. p.52.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.59-60.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Dunsinane Falls

Dunsinane Falls, Pundalu Oya
Dunsinane Falls (also known as Pundalu Oya falls) is a waterfall located in Pundalu Oya in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka. About 100 meter tall water fall arises from the Great Western mountain and flows to Kotmale Oya, a tributary of Mahaweli Ganga (Kautzsch, 1983).

References
1) Kautzsch, E., 1983. A guide to waterfalls of Sri Lanka: Tisara Prakasakayo. p.52.

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Badulla Pillar Inscription

Badulla Pillar Inscription
Badulla Pillar Inscription (also known as Sorabora Pillar Inscription) is a medieval Sinhalese inscription (10th century) found from Badulla in Sri Lanka. It is at present found in the Senerat Paranavitana Public Library in Badulla town. The inscription is historically important as it reveals some information about the socio-economic condition and the nature of the internal trade of Sri Lanka during the tenth century.

Discovery
A trivial description about this pillar inscription is found in an account given for Sorabora Wewa reservoir in 1857, by Mr. John Bailey, the then Assistant Government Agent for Badulla. He had briefly mentioned about the pillar, its size and inscribed faces (Paranavitana, 1933). According to his account, the pillar had been observed by him at a location situated near to Sorabora Wewa.

After restoring the tank of Sorabora Wewa by the government in 1870, the pillar was removed to Badulla and set up near the junction of the Kandy and Bandarawela roads (Paranavitana, 1933). Thenceforth, the pillar was standing there for over fifty years without receiving any attention from scholars or antiquaries (Paranavitana, 1933). In 1920, the then Government Agent at Badulla, Mr. Codrington brought this inscription into the attention of the Archaeological Commissioner (Paranavitana, 1933).

Inscription
The quadrilateral pillar is 8 feet 5 inches in height and all the four sides are covered by the inscription (Paranavitana, 1933). It contains about two thousand letters written in two hundred and three lines. The letters are very small and vary in size from half an inch to one.  According to Senarath Paranavitana, this inscription is the longest pillar inscription known by him at the time (Paranavitana, 1933).

Content
This inscription is dated to the second year of the reign of Siri Sang-bo Uda (Paranavitana, 1933) who is identified as King Udaya III or King Udaya IV (de Casparis, 1996; Gunawardana, 2013). It records about several rules enacted for the administration of a village called Hopitigamu in the Sorabora Division (Paranavitana, 1933). These rules have come as a result, after a petition submitted by merchants and householders of Hopitigamu to King Udaya, during his visit to the Mahiyangana Stupa (Gunawardana, 2013). Prominent archaeologist Senarath Paranavitana has left following opinions regarding this inscription;
These are (the rules) in the nature of a charter granted by the king to some mercantile corporations at the place and was the out come of a complaint against the local magistrates made to the king when he visited Mahiyangana.
From this record we also learn that the practice of exacting fines by moral compulsion (by placing in the valakma) which prevailed at the time of  British occupation of the Kandyan Provinces was an old institution dating back at least to the tenth century.
Citation: Paranavitana, S., 1933. Badulla Pillar Inscription. p.74.
A protected monument
The pillar inscription at Badulla Public Library located in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Badulla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.
 
References
1) de Casparis, J.G., 1996. Sri Lanka and maritime Southeast Asia in ancient times. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 41. pp.229-240.
2) Gunawardana, V.D.N.S., 2013. The role of the traders in monetary transactions in ancient Sri Lanka. Culture, Globalization and the Developing World, 2nd ICSS.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Badulla Pillar Inscription. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon :Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.71-100.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Badulla Preaching Buddha Statue, Colombo National Museum

Badulla Preaching Buddha Statue, Colombo National Museum
The Badulla Preaching Buddha Statue was discovered from Badulla in Sri Lanka and is currently on display in the Colombo National Museum. This statue is considered as a rare piece of work found from Sri Lanka.

This hollow cast bronze statue of Buddha is 54.5 cm height and dated to the about 6th century C.E. (Coomaraswamy, 1914; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018; Rambukwella, 2014). It was presented to the museum by G. F. K. Horsfall (Coomaraswamy, 1914).  

Statue
The Budha statue, seated in Virasana posture, shows an attitudes of preaching/teaching Dhamma. The slightly raised right hand depicts the Vitarka Mudra (Wikramagamage, 1990). While holding the gathered pleats of the robe the left hand is in the pose of Katakahastha (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The robe is transparent and shown attached to the body by raised ridges. The folds of the robe are clear and distinct. The robe covers the left shoulder while leaving the right shoulder bare. The head is covered with snail-shell like curled hair locks and the Usnisha is fairly shown. The perforation on the head may be had used to attache the Siraspatha [(the flame of knowledge) Wikramagamage, 1990]. The upright torso and the wide open eyes indicate Buddha's alertness while preaching.

References
1) Coomaraswamy, A., 1914. Bronzes from Ceylon, chiefly in the Colombo Museum. Series A. No. 1. Memoirs of the Colombo Museum/Ed. J. Pearson. Colombo: Horace Hart, Colombo. p.20.
2)  Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.15.
3) Rambukwella, M.W.C.N.K., 2014. Heritage representation in culturally diverse societies: a case study of the Colombo National Museum in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, School of Museum Studies). p.330.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section II: 500-100 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. p.51.

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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019

Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue, Colombo National Museum

Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue, Colombo National Museum
The Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue was discovered from Veheragala Monastery in Kahatagasdigiliya in Anuradhapura Distict, Sri Lanka and is currently on display in the Colombo National Museum (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The statue is considered as one of the best five masterpiece sculptures of the world (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

This gilt bronze represents Avalokiteshvara, a Mahayana Bodhisattva who is the emanation of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. These figures (Avalokiteshvara) are identified by the Dhyani Buddha on the head-dress or by similar images with the emblem. This Avalokiteswara statue is 49.8 cm height and dated to the 8th-9th centuries C.E (Holt, 1991).

Statue
The statue, seated leisurely, is in a combination of attitudes of Rajaleelasana and Lalithasana. The right foot of the statue is bent and kept cross-wise over the seat while the left foot is kept down. The right hand is resting over the right thigh and depicts the Vitarka Mudra [(Mudra of argumentation) Wikramagamage, 1990]. The left hand is kept on the seat outside the left thigh causing the upper body slanted towards the right. The cloth band on the left shoulder and the ripples on the belly are shown in their natural form. The raiment covering the lower body is short and a portion of this cloth is falling in front below the seat (Wikramagamage, 1990). The hair is arranged in the form of Jata-makuta (Wikramagamage, 2004) and several loosed locks are fallen on to the shoulders. The hair-dress is garnished with stones but bears an empty niche in the front. This empty niche, according to Prof. Chandra Wikramagamage, had been used to place a miniature figure of Amitabha Buddha (Wikramagamage, 1990).

References
1) Holt, J.C., 1991. Buddha in the crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka. Oxford University Press. p.86.
2) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.12.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section II: 500-100 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. p.68
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.85.

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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019

Monday, December 24, 2018

Samanabedda Purana Gallen Viharaya, Ampara

The cave temple at Samanabedda, Ampara
Samanabedda Purana Gallen Viharaya (lit: Samanabedda ancient cave temple) or Samanabedda Len Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the Grama-Niladari Division of Uhana-Galahitiyagoda in Ampara District, Sri Lanka (Withanachchi, 2013). The site can be reached by traveling along the Ampara - Uhana road about 7 km distance from Ampara town.

Archaeological ruins
The site is not seemed to be completely excavated and many of the ruins are still hidden in the surrounding forest. The cave shrine is at the entrance of the site, housing two Buddha statues: a seated Buddha and a reclining Buddha. A torso of Buddha statue which had been discovered from the site can also be seen in the cave shrine. Near to the cave shrine is a small rock plain on which a dilapidated Stupa mound is identified (Withanachchi, 2013). Stone pillars, base stones and the debris of old buildings and structures are largely found on the rock plateau located west of the Stupa.

The head-less Buddha statue, Samanabedda Viharaya The Stupa, Samanabedda Viharaya Ruins of an ancient building, Samanabedda Viharaya Debris of old buildings and structures, Samanabedda Viharaya
References
1) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.18-19.

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This page was last updated on 6 October 2019

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Aramanapola Raja Maha Viharaya, Ganegama

The image house and the Stupa, Aramanapola
Aramanapola Raja Maha Viharaya is an old Buddhist temple located in Ganegama village in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Ratnapura - Haputhale road about 20 km distance from Ratnapura town.

History
The history of Aramanapola temple is dated back to the reign of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte [(1410/1412/1415-1467 A.D.) Gnanawimala Thera, 1967]. The two storied image house of the temple is said to be erected during the Kandyan era [(1469–1815 A.D.) Gnanawimala Thera, 1967].

Aramanapola copper plate grant
During the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 A.D.), Kotta Imbulwala Anomadassi Thera who was a monk of lineage of Kotta Imbulawala Viharaya restored the old Stupa of the temple with constructing a rampart. Expending 1285 amount of silvers he also erected a Stupa and three images at Aramanapola Viharaya and the merit thus acquired was offered to the Mahawasala of Kandy (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967). By hearing this meritorious deed, King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe issued a copper plate in 1730 of Saka years (1808 A.D.), declaring several grant of properties to both Kotta Imbulwala Viharaya and Aramanapola Viharaya (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967). This copper plate grant is considered today as an important inscription as it reveals some historical details about Aramanapola temple.

A protected site
Aramanapola Raja Maha Viharaya in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Pelmadulla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 2 March 1951.

Carvings in the image house, Aramanapola Viharaya The Buddha Statue, Aramanapola Viharaya Sandakada Pahana, Aramanapola Viharaya Replicas of statues of Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya, Aramanapola
References
1) Gnanawimala Thera, K., 1967. Saparagamu Darshana (In Sinhala). S. Godage Saha Sahodarayo. pp.180-181,216-220.
6) The Gazette notification (Ceylon). No: 10217. 2 March 1951.

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This page was last updated on 14 September 2019

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Gonagolla Viharaya

The Stupa of Gonagolla temple
Gonagolla Viharaya (also known as Gonagolla Punchi Sigiriya) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Gonagolla in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Senagama-Gonagolla road about 5 km distance from Weranketagoda town.

History
The history of Gonagolla Viharaya is dated to the Anuradhapura period (377 B.C. - 1017 A.D.). About five inscriptions and a rock painting which is believed to be belongs to the 5th century A.D. have been found from the site (Sirimalwatta, 2016).

Inscriptions
Five epigraphs, all are rock inscriptions belonging to the 3rd-5th centuries A.D. are identified at the site (Sirimalwatta, 2016). They all have been inscribed on a rock plane on which an ancient flight of steps and the remains of an ancient structure are found. 

Gonagolla rock inscriptions 
(Ref. : The   information   board  at   the  site  by
Director General of Archaeology)

Period        :  3-4th centuries A.D.
Scripts       : Later Brahmi
Language  : Old Sinhala

First inscription
Content : About a donation made by the wife of
district  governor   Mahinda   and   the   wife   of
district governor Bakadaya to a Vihara
Gonagolla inscriptions (3rd-4th century AD)
Second inscription
Content : A donation of robes for the monks of the Alithaka Maha viharaya for the rainy season by a person name Abaya of Maharata
Third inscription
Content : A donation of Kahavanu (money) by a person to the Alithaka Maha Viharaya for the maintenance of the Ariyavansa ceremony
Period        :  4-5th centuries A.D.
Scripts       : Transitional Brahmi
Language  : Old Sinhala

First inscription
Content : A  donation  made to the community
of monks of a monastery

Second inscription
Content : It  records  about   a  flight  of  steps
constructed  by  Nadasaba  of  Gotigama. The
merit thus acquired is offered to all beings.
Gonagolla inscriptions (4th-5th century AD) and the flight of steps
An old painting
 A fragment of an old painting found from a cave at Gonagolla temple was recorded in 1956, by the then Commissioner of Archaeology (acting), P. E. P. Deraniyagala (Sirimalwatta, 2016; Wijesekara, 1990). 

Gonagolla painting
This fragment contains two figures, a female dancer and a man (Wijesekara, 1990). They are drawn on a white background and coloured with red, yellow and green colors. The female figure is exquisitely executed in a attitude of reverence or supplication towards the male figure. The male figure is apparently holding a lotus stalk and has been painted with a halo around his head (Sirimalwatta, 2016). Prominent archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana thinks that this fragment of painting belongs to a time between the Sigiriya and the Polonnaruwa periods (Somathilake, 2000; Wijesekara, 1990). According to him, this painting is depicting an act of expecting the rain (Sirimalwatta, 2016; Withanachchi, 2013).  

Senaka Bandaranayake in his book "The Rock and Wall paintings of Sri Lanka" says that the style of Gonagolla painting is closely related to the paintings found in Vessagiriya and Sigiriya (Bandaranayake & Jayasinghe, 1986). He dates this painting to a period ranging from 5th century to 7th century A.D. (Somathilake, 2000). Depending on the rock inscriptions found in-situ, D. B. Dhanapala has dated this painting to the 3rd century A.D. (Somathilake, 2000; Wijesekara, 1990).

A protected site
Rock with the paintings of Adiwasi people (Indigenous) and Anuradhapura era, all drip ledged caves, hillock of Dagoba buildings with stone pillars, places of ruins, rock inscriptions and flights of steps and buildings, and the rock with two ponds and base stones situated in Gonagolla cave temple (Punchi Seegiriya) in Kothmale colony village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. W/104A/01/050, Kothmale in the Divisional Secretary’s Division Uhana are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.
Remains of an ancient structure, Gonagolla A ruined building, Gonagolla
References
1) Bandaranayake, S. Jayasinghe, G., 1986. The Rock and Wall Painting of Sri Lanka. Lake House Bookshop. p.35.
2) Sirimalwatta, 2016. Perani sithuwam kalawe agana nimewumak vu Gonagolla (In Sinhala). Dayada Newsletter. July 2016. 10th edition. Department of Archaeology. p.12.
3) Somathilake, M., 2000. A historical study of Buddhist mural paintings of peninsular India and Sri Lanka during the ancient period (from second century BC to twelfth century AD). A thesis submitted to the Jawaharlal Nehru University in fulfillment of the requirement for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. pp.183-184.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.922.
5) Wijesekara, N. (Editor in Chief), 1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Volume V: Painting. pp.32-33.
6) Withanachchi, C.R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya. Department of Archaeology. pp.33-34.

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Vanamandawa Raja Maha Viharaya

Vanamandawa Raja Maha Viharaya
Vanamandawa Raja Maha Viharaya (or Wanamandawa Purana Viharaya) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Vanamandawa in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
Local folklore links the history of this temple to the reign of King Valagamba [(103 B.C. and c. 89–77 B.C.) Anuradha & Kumari, 2015].

The cave temple (Len Viharaya) is the most ancient structure found in Vanamandawa Viharaya with a history running from Anuradhapura period (377 B.C.–1017 A.D.) to modern Colombo era (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The drip-ledged cave and four rock-cut letters (thought to be early Brahmi scripts) which are found on the top of the cave forming rock (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015) furnish the evidences for the activities of early Anuradhapura period.

During the 18th century, Vanamandawa temple may had served Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero (1698-1778), at the time, who was the pioneer in the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The name of Vanamandawa temple is mentioned in "Sangharaja Sadhu Chariyawa" (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015), the biography of Ven. Welivita Saranankara Sangharaja written by Aiththaliyadde Muhamdiram Rala.

Image house
The image house consists of two sections viz: i) inner chamber and ii) outer part. The inner chamber contains paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan era (1469–1815). Paintings of Buddha, Arhants, gods, Solosmasthana (16 sacred places), Sath Sathiya (the seven weeks) and a figure of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782 A.D.) are found in this chamber (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). Among the murals, the painting depicting the Mara Parajaya (defeat of Mara) is considered as a special piece of work (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).
The standing Buddha, Vanamandawa The reclining Buddha statue, Vanamandawa
Sandakada Pahana, Vanamandawa Wooden door frame, Wanamandawa
References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. p.86.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Magul Maha Viharaya

Ancient ruins at Magul Maha Viharaya
Magul Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Lahugala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along Pothuvil - Siyambalanduwa road about 14 km distance from Pothuvil town.

History
The history of Magul Maha Viharaya is assumed to be related to the reign of King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.) who ruled the principality of Rohana when Elara (205 – 161 B.C.), an invader from India was ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It is said that the royal marriage between King Kavantissa and Vihara Maha Devi, the daughter of King Kelani Tissa, was held in this site.

However, two inscriptions found from the site say that a queen named Vihara Maha Devi restored the ruined Runu Maha Vera founded by King Dasen-kali (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1934). Therefore, from the details given in the inscription, it is believed that the ancient name of Magul Maha Vihara was Runu Maha Vehera (Rohana Maha Vehera) and it was originally founded by King Dhathusena [(c. 516 to 526 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1934]. However, chronicles do not mention King Dhatusena with the establishment of this temple but Mahawamsa and Pujavaliya record that a Vihara named Ruhunu Vehera (Rohana Vehera) was established by Dappula I (c. 650), a ruler of Rohana (Paranavitana, 1934). He had built Ruhunu Vehera to honour the Maha Thera of Pasanadipika Vihara which is today identified with a large isolated rock called Neelagiriya, located south of Lahugala (Nicholas, 1963). According to Paranavitana (1934), Runu Maha Vera of these two inscriptions and Ruhunu Vehera of the chronicles are doubtless identical even though there is a discrepancy on the name of the founder (Paranavitana, 1934).

Vihara Maha Devi, the name of the queen who is mentioned here is the chief consort of both King Parakramabahu V (1344/5-1359) and King Bhuwanekabahu IV [(1344/5-1353/4) Paranavitana, 1934].

Magul Maha Vihara slab inscription
Period : 14th century A.D.
Scripts & language : Medieval Sinhala
Transcript : (Svasti)  [Sri  Si]ri  lak-hi  rajaka[la]
Dasen-kali   raja   daruvan   da   karavu   Runu 
maha vera.......>>
Translation : Hail!   The    Runu    Maha  Vera
founded   by    Dasen   kali    who   reigned  in
prosperous Lanka.......>>
Content : This  inscription records  that  Vihara
Maha Devi, the chief consort of the two brother
kings named  Parakumba, who  vanquished the
Colas and  governed the  Ruhuna,  restored  the
ruined  Ruhunu  Maha Vihara founded  by  King
Dasen    kali     and     provided    requisites   for
maintenance  of  Sangha and  attendants. Also
the  Viharadevi Pirivena  founded  in  her  name
(Viharamahadevi)  attached to  this  monastery
should  be  known   and  all  these   institutions
should  be   maintained   continuously   by   the
future kings
Reference :  Paranavitana, 1934
Magul Maha Vihara slab inscription
Magula Maha Vihara pillar inscription Magula Maha Vihara pillar inscription
Scripts & language : Medieval Sinhala
Transcript : <<......Vihara maha devin bim pisa
karavu Runu maha vera......>>
Translation : <<......the Runu maha vera, caused
to be entirely rebuilt by Vihara  maha devi......>>
Content : Vihara Maha Devi, who was the chief
consort   of   the    two   brother   kings   named
Parakumba,  restored   the  ruined  Runu  Maha
Vera.   This   dedication   to   the   Dharmaratna
should    be    enjoyed     and    maintained    by
meritorious people coming in the future
Reference : Paranavitana, 1934
Other inscriptions and ruins
A medieval Sinhalese inscription belonging to the 9th-10th centuries A.D. has been found on a stone slab fixed to the outer wall of the Stupa foundation (Dias, 1991). Another slab with an inscription of 8th-10th centuries A.D. is found fixed in the outer Prakara of Magul Maha Vihara and it was copied by the Archaeological Department in 1935 (Dias, 1991).

A large number of archaeological ruins can be seen at the present temple premises. Ruins of a Bodhighara (Bodhi-tree house), an image house, a chapter house, a Stupa and a parapet wall demarcating the boundary of the temple have been identified and conserved by the Archaeological Department.
Magul Maha Vihara Sandakada Pahana

The Sandakada Pahana (moonstone) found  in
Magula   Maha   Viharaya  is  belonged   to  the
Anuradhapura  period   and  considered  as  an
eminent  piece  of  work.  It  depicts  a  row  of
elephants with a rope  across  their  belly. Two
human   figures  (probably mahouts)  who  are
found on  the back of two  of  these  elephants
have  made  this  artifact   unique  among   the
moonstones found in other places in Sri Lanka
Reference :  Wisumperuma, 2012
Magul Maha Vihara Sandakada Pahana
A protected site
Magula Maha Viharaya situated in the village of Lahugala, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Lahugala is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 26 March 1954.
The Stupa Ruins
A Muragala (guard stone) The inner parapet
References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp. 44,59.
2) Nicholas, C.W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval. Journal of the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New series, Vol. VI, Special number. Colombo. p.23.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1934. Two inscriptions of Vihara Maha Devi from Magul Maha Vihara. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon. Vol. IV. Archaeological survey of Ceylon. London. pp.161-169.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 10657. 26 March 1954.
5) Wisumperuma, D., 2012. Religious Use of Elephants in Ancient Sri Lanka. GAJAH. p.17.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Nillakgama Bodhigharaya

The Bodhigharaya at Nillakgama
Nillakgama Bodhigharaya is an ancient Bodhi-tree house located in the village of Nillakgama in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

Bodhighara
Bodhi trees are venerated by Buddhists from the earliest times as it associates with the Buddha's enlightenment. In Sri Lanka, the worship of Bodhi-tree became prevalent 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 as Bodhighara (The national atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007; Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997).

History
The Bodhighara at Nillakgama is believed to be a work of the 8th-9th centuries A.D. (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The ruined site was first noticed in 1895, by H.C.P. Bell but its true identity remained unsolved (Bandaranayake, 1974). In 1954, Senarath Paranavitana identified and dated this structure with the help of an inscription which was found from the site (Bandaranayake, 1974).

  • Nillakgama Bodhigharaya inscription

    Period : 9th-10th centuries A.D.
    Scripts : Medieval Sinhalese
    Language :
    Medieval Sinhalese
  • Transcript : Monaragal budmi me dasa ethun karawa maha bohi pidu pinhi belen antuhara samma sambudu vemva
    Translation : I am Bud (resident of) Monaragal. From the merit acquired by offering this ten sculptured figures of elephants to the Maha Bodhi (tree), (I) wish to attain the Buddhahood.
    Reference : The information board at the site by the Department of archaeology and the State Ministry of Cultural affairs






Nillakgama Bodhigharaya consists of 2 platforms. The lower platform is square shape (34 ft) and bordered by a stone parapet wall of 7 ft. high, on which were 16 stone pillars used to support the pavilion enclosing the tree (Paranavitana, 1959). The upper platform is a 13 ft square and was the ground for Bodhi-tree. The two entrances (doorways) which make the access to the lower platform and the retaining walls of the upper platform have been decorated with nice sculptures (Paranavitana, 1959).

Attribution
1) නිල්ලග්ගම බෝධි ඝරය by Singhalawap is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.56-57.
2) Bandaranayake, S.D., 1974. Sinhalese monastic architecture: the Viharas of Anuradhapura (Vol. 4). Brill. pp.161-164.
3) Paranavitana, S.; Ray, H.C. (ed), 1959. Chapter VII. History of Ceylon: Vol. I, Part I. University of Ceylon. p.398.
4) The national atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007. (2nd ed.) Survey Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-9059-04-1. p.102.
5) Wijesuriya, G.; Weerasekera, H., 1997. Footprints of our heritage. Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. ISBN: 955-9043-32-3. p.57.
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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Rambaken Oya Reservoir and Archaeological Ruins

Rambaken Oya Reservoir
Rambaken Oya Reservoir is a large irrigation tank situated in Maha Oya Divisional Secretary's Division, Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the reservoir road about 14 km distance from Maha Oya town.

Rambaken Oya development scheme
Rambaken Oya multipurpose irrigation scheme was commenced in 2007, as a solution for the drinking and irrigation problems in the area. Under the main scheme, construction of the reservoir (56 MCM capacity, 797 ha. water spread area), the dam (1225 m. length) and 2 radial gated spill ways were completed. Several minor tanks were also rehabilitated (Polwathu Wewa, Pollebedda Wewa, Niloba Wewa, Kiralagas Wewa and Dumana Wewa) or newly constructed (Buruthana Wewa and Pinthaliya Wewa) as a part of the total project. The completed reservoir was declared open in 2013, by the then president of Sri Lanka.

Archaeological ruins
During the dam construction, a large number of archaeological ruins including a 1 mile long ancient dam was discovered from the site. The old dam had been constructed in a standard manner connecting two nearby mountains, Gorikanda and Galkanda. Around 115 m long dressed stones, made to use for a twin barrel sluice are also found near to the dam. However, the remaining ruins indicate that the construction of Rambaken Oya dam was not completed.
1 mile long ancient dam of Rambaken Oya Scattered ruins, Rambaken Oya
There are several opinions regarding the ancient Rambaken Oya reservoir. Some authors believe that the reservoir was commenced by a prince named Giri Abaya who ruled the east in the 3rd century B.C. According to other authors it was a work started by Prince Saddhatissa, who was administrating this area under his elder brother, King Dutugemunu (161 BC – 137 BC).

A protected monument
The ancient Tank bund of Rambukken Oya (Watawala Kandiya) situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Pollebedda, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Maha Oya is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 January 2009. 

Spill ways, Rambaken Oya The old sluice
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p. 108.

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