Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rankoth Vehera

Rankoth Vehera, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Rankoth Vehera (also known as Ruwanweli Dagoba of Polonnaruwa) is a Stupa located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Built by King Nissanka Malla (1187-1196 AD), this is the tallest Stupa found in Polonnaruwa.

According to the account given in Pujavaliya, this Stupa is one of edifices done by King Nissanka Malla. The great chronicle Mahawamsa also states that Nissanka Malla built the Ratnavali-cetiya (Ruwanweli in Sinhaleses) to a great height and adorned it with a golden pinnacle. In Sinhalese language, the name Rankoth Vehera means gold pinnacled Stupa. The word Ran (pronounce as run) means gold and Kotha means pinnacle while Vehera means either Stupa or temple.

The Stupa and its monastery complex have been built between Gopalapabbatha and Menik Vehera complex. The Pabbata Vihara type monastery, which is located at the southern boundary of Rankoth Vehera Stupa was also a part of this 12th century temple complex.

Rankoth Vehara Stupa is mentioned in following inscriptions. 
Rankoth-Dagoba Pillar Inscriptions (left)

Period : 12 Century AD
Reign : Nissanka Malla (1187-1196 AD)
Script : Medieval Sinhala
Language : Medieval Sinhala
Transcript : ...Sri Vira  Kalinga  Lamkeshwara
Aprati-Malla Nissmka Malla Parakrama-Bahu
Cakravartti    svamin  -  vahanse    da   venda 
vadara(na kuda)mayi
Translation : This is the pavilion, from which
his majesty is  pleased  to warship  the relics
(enshrined in the Ruwanweli Dagoba)
Reference : Wikramasinghe, 1928
  • Gal-Potha Inscription

    Reign : Nissanka Malla (1187-1196 AD)
    Transcript : <<...rajageta uturu-diga asu at Ruwanmeli dagob vahanse karava...>>
    Translation : <<...Ruwanweli Dagoba, eighty cubits on the north side of the royal residence...>>
    Reference : Wikramasinghe, 1928
  • Rankoth-Dagoba Gal-Asana Inscription

    Reign : Nissanka Malla (1187-1196 AD)
    Transcript : ...Ruvanweli dagoba karava vadarana kala karmmanta bala vadara vada hun mulu galin kala asanayayi
    Translation : The seat, curved  out of a single stone, which occupied (by his majesty) whilst watching the construction of the Ruwanweli dagoba
    Reference : Wikramasinghe, 1928
Ruins of an image house, Polonnaruwa Rankoth Vehera One of Vahalkadas, Polonnaruwa Rankoth Vehera
The Stupa is 54 meters tall and surrounded by gateways and image houses. The construction of image houses around Stupas indicates the influence of the Mahasanghika sect.

1) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon Vol II: London. Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford, pp. 98-123, 134-142.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, p. 214.

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