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, April 29, 2018

Jetavanarama Pilimage

Jetavanaramaya Pilima Geya, Sri Lanka
Jetavanaramaya Pilima Geya (Image house of Jetavanarama) is located to the west of the Jetavanarama Stupa and is the main image house found in the monastery complex.

The building is a Gedige type image house that once had a vaulted roof of brick (Jayasuriya, 2016). As having a main and a side entrance, the building belongs to the Gandakuti style comprising of Garbha-gruhaya and Antharalaya (Wijesuriya & Weerasekara, 1997). According to the present architectural features, this image house is thought to be a work belongs to the later Anuradhapura period.

The entrance to the image house is a stone door frame which is about 8 meters (27 feet) tall (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). It suggests that this image house had sheltered a colossal standing image of Buddha. The Buddha statue may have been done in brick and mortar and the circumambulatory path around it allowed devotees to pay their homage (Jayasuriya, 2016). The lotus pedestal (Padmasana) of the Buddha statue and the twenty-five chamber stone reliquary (Yantragala) of the shrine are still at the site. There are indications that they had been destroyed by fire.

Either side of the image house are the ruins of several buildings which could be the subsidiary structures of the main shrine.

Jetavanaramaya Pilima Geya, Sri Lanka Jetavanaramaya Pilima Geya, Sri Lanka
References

1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.41.
2) Wijesuriya, G.; Weerasekara, H., 1997. Footprints of our heritage. Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. ISBN: 955-9043-32-3. p.42.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.136.

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This page was last updated on 1 December 2019

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ravana Ella Falls

Ravana Ella Falls in Sri Lanka
Ravana Ella Falls is a waterfall located in Ella in Badulla District, Sri lanka. The fall is about 25 m tall and formed by a tributary of Kirindi Oya.

This fall is called by the name of Ravana, a name of a mythical king found in the Indian Hindu epic Ramayanaya. According to the popular beliefs King Ravana had held Sita (Seetha) in captivity in this place. However no any archaeological evidence has been found to prove this story.


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This page was last updated on 12 November 2019

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mawaragala Aranya Senasanaya

Mawaragala Aranya Senasanaya
Mawaragala Aranya Senasanaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Dambana in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. The site is located about 15 km far from the Mahiyanganaya town.

The temple is a forest hermitage consisting of a number of rock caves prepared as dwellings for Buddhist monks. Few of them are drip-ledged caves and some contain Brahmi inscriptions inscribed just below the drip-ledges (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).
Mavaragala cave inscriptions (right)

Period : 2nd century BC - 1st century AC
Transcript : Parumaka Tabatisha puta 
Parumaka Tisaha lene shagasha
Translation : The cave of chief Tissa, the son of
chief Tamba-Tissa, (is given) to the Sanga.

Reference : Paranavitana, 1970
A protected site
The drip-ledges caves of Mawaragala Aranya Senasanaya are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.
Ruins of a Stupa Sinhasana Mandapaya
Attribution
1) Mavaragala by L Manju is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi inscription. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p. 67.
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: 1264, 22 November 2002. 

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This page was last updated on 18 June 2019

Friday, April 20, 2018

Yatawatta Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama

Yatawatte Purana Tempita Viharaya, Sri Lanka
Yatawatte Purana Viharaya (also known as Vidyaravindra Maha Pirivena) is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Pahalagama in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Yatawatta temple is believed to be dated back to the reign of King Parakramabahu VI [(1412–1467 A.D.) Jayasundara, 2018]. The Tempita Viharaya (temple on pillars) which is considered as the oldest construction of this temple today is said to be erected using the stone pillars which were once belonged to a Devalaya (Jayasundara, 2018).

According to the date mentioned above the entrance of the Tempita shrine, this structure has been established or renovated on 21 March 1861 (Wijayawardhana, 2010). The Netra Mangalya of the Buddha image is said to be taken place on 22 March 1866 (Chandrasoma, 2013).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps and wattle walls. The walls form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings were started in the 17th century and lasted till the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010). 

Yatawatta Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main aspect of this temple with an archaeological significance. It consists of two parts (image chamber and outer ambulatory) and has been built upon 30 granite stumps of about 3-4 feet tall (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010). Two flight of steps make the access to the image chamber as well as to the ambulatory which surround the chamber. The ambulatory is about 2 ft. 6 in. wide and a short wall of about 3 feet tall runs along its outer boundary (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010). The total Tempita structure is about 20 feet long and 16 feet wide (Chandrasoma, 2013; Wijayawardhana, 2010).

The outer walls of ambulatory contains no paintings drawn but the image chamber is adorned with the paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan style. Two statues of guardians accompanied by a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) are found at the entrance of the image chamber. On the side walls are three figures of deities, Vishnu, Kataragama and Gane Bandara (Wijayawardhana, 2010). Also a painting of a Buddhist monk called Udugampola Sonuththara Thera who is believed to be a  head priest of the temple long ago, is found drawn on the wall (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

A wood ceiling covers the upper part of the chamber (Jayasundara, 2018). The main sculpture found in the chamber is a seated Buddha statue of about 4 feet 6 inch tall (Wijayawardhana, 2010). At the two sides of the Buddha statue are statues of deities, Vishnu and Saman (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

The Tempita building was renovated and conserved by the Archaeological Department on 28 February 2013.

A protected monument
The Tempita Vihara within the premises of Pahalagama Vidyaravinda Maha Pirivena situated in Grama Niladhari Division Pahalagama in the Divisional Secretary’s’ Division, Gampaha is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a Gazette notification published on 12 April 2016.

Yatawatte Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama Yatawatte Purana Viharaya, Pahalagama
.
References
1) Chandrasoma, S., 2013. Gampaha Distrikkaye Tempita Vihara (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-9159-85-8. pp.18-24.
2) Jayasundara, A.K., 2018. Yatawatta tempita viharaye murthi saha sithuwam sanrakshanaya kere (In Sinhala). Dayada Newsletter. July 2018. 12th edition. Department of Archaeology.p.19.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1963. 12 April 2016. p. 17.
4) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. pp. 12,251-256.

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This page was last updated on 3 October 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Komarikagala

The Komarikagala cave, Sri Lanka
Komarikagala is a rock with archaeological significance situated in the Pelwatta Sugar Industry Division in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. The site is located about 1 km far from the mountain of the Buttala iron ore deposit.

Ruins
A drip-ledged cave with an early-Brahmi inscription has been found in the site. In front of the cave is a Kema, a natural pond used by the dwelling monks. On the top of rock, scattered rubble of ruined structures are found. Most of the ruins are seemed to have been destroyed by the people.

Komarikagala cave inscription 

Scripts      : Early Brahmi
Language : Old Sinhalese
Transcript :Parumaka Pulaya puta parumaka
Utara  puta  parumaka  Datasha kumi lene ca
shagasha dine
Translation : The cistern and the cave of chief
Datta, son  of the chief Uttara, son of the chief
Pulaya, is given to the Buddhist Sangha

Citation : Paranavitana, 1970.
The Komarikagala inscription
Ruins at Komarikagala Rubble of buildings Ruined structures The Kema
.
References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.54.

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This page was last updated on 12 July 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Piyangala Aranya Senasanaya

The Stupa of Piyangala Aranya Senasanaya, Ampara
Piyangala Aranya Senasanaya (also known as Piyangala Raja Maha Viharaya) is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Piyangala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site is located about 18 km far from Uhana town.

The temple is a forest hermitage and situated in the eastern part of the Rajagala mountain (Withanachchi, 2013). A large number of caves which were prepared as dwellings for the monks are found in the temple premises. Some of caves contain early Brahmi inscriptions inscribed just below the drip-ledge. Among these, several inscriptions are considered very important as they give details about the royal relations connected to King Dutugemunu (161-137 BC).

A drip ledged cave at Piyangala Aranya A drip ledged cave at Piyangala Aranya
  • Piyangala cave inscription of Uttaragutta (above photograph)

    Transcript  : Utharagutha theraha lene
    Translation : The cave of Uththara Guththa Thera.
  • Piyangala cave inscription of Chunda Tissa
    Transcript  :
    Batha Chudi Thishaha lene dashahagama....shagasha
    Translation : The cave of chief Chunda Thissa/Chula Thissa (is given) to the (Buddhist) priesthood.
Ruins of several Stupas as well as fragments of clay tiles and bricks have been found in the hermitage. Near to the temple, a cave with frescoes of Adiwasi people (Vedda) and a site with ruined stone pillars are found.

The Piyangala Viharaya is a archaeological protected monument declared by the Sri Lanka Archaeological Department.
A drip ledged cave at Piyangala hermitage Caves at Piyangala Aranya
Attribution
1) Piyangala Rajamaha Vihara 2 by L Manju is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhalese). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p. 37.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Kolapathana Ella Falls

Kolapathana Ella Falls, Sri LankaKolapathana Ella Falls is a waterfall located in Mandaram Nuwara in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

The fall is located about 1 km distance from the Mandaram Nuwara town and can be reached through a small hike. The fall cascades through several sections and is formed by a stream originated from the Piduruthalagala Conservation Forest.

A secondory fall also can be seen at the left side of the main fall.

Presently, the site has become a popular tourist place, specially among the locals. Bathing and camping near the fall are possible.






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This page was last updated on 22 September 2019

Udayagiri Raja Maha Viharaya

The Stupa of Udayagiri Raja Maha Viharaya
Udayagiri Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. It is situated in the village of Udagirigama about 3.5 km far from the Uhana town.

History
The original Stupa which was located here has been completely reconstructed (Withanachchi, 2013). According to local beliefs, that original Stupa was a work belonged to the reign of King Udaya I [(903-914 A.D.) Withanachchi, 2013].

Inscription
A pillar inscription established in the tenth regnal year of King Udaya I (Medhananda, 2003) is found erected at the entrance of the temple. It records that the lands of this temple had been exempted from the Veletta Badda (probably a kind of tax imposed on grains) by two generals named Udaya and Abhaya (Medhananda, 2003).

The temple which was in a state of ruins, was again become an abode of Buddhist monks since about 1926 (Medhananda, 2003).

A protected site
Site with the evidences of buildings with stone pillars, all archeological relics such as Stupa Chatra balustardes, moonstone and flower altar at the premises of Udayagiri Rajamaha Vihara belonging to Udagirigama village situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. W/88B, Udagirigama East in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Uhana are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 26 December 2014.

The pillar inscription of Udayagiri temple Ruins of Udayagiriya temple Ruins of Udayagiriya temple A Chatra, Udayagiriya temple
.
References
1) Medhananda, Ven. E., 2003. Pacheena passa - Uttara passa: Negenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala bauddha urumaya (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-686-112-9. pp.221-224.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1895. 26 December 2014. p. 1150.
3) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.27.

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This page was last updated on 5 April 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sri Sudharmarama Purana Viharaya, Obada Ella

Sri Sudharmarama Purana Viharaya, Obada Ella, Sri Lanka
Sri Sudharmarama Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Obada Ella in Bandarawela, Sri Lanka. The temple can be reached by traveling about 3.5 km along the Diyathalawa road from Bandarawela town.

Image house
The image house of Obada Ella temple is believed to be built in 1880 (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). The paintings adorning the inner walls of the image house and the Makara Thorana (the Dragon Arch) show artistic features belonging to the Kandyan era.

A protected monument
The old image house of Obadaella temple is a protected archaeological monument, declared by a Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.
The Bodhi tree at the temple Paintings in the old image house
Paintings in the old image house
References
1) Priyadarshani, S. A. N.; Gunasena, I. P. P., (2017). Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhalese). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. p. 52.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553, 6 June 2008. p. 530.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Atadage

Polonnaruwa Atadageya, Sri Lanka
Atadage is a relic shrine located in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It has been identified as the Temple of the Tooth built by King Vijayabahu I [(1055-1110 A.D.) Jayasuriya, 2016; Ray, 1960].

Building
Atadage is considered as the oldest building located in the Sacred Quadrangle (Puja Chaturasraya or Dalada Maluwa). The building is square in shape and an oblong vestibule projects from the front side which faces to south direction. Approximately the structure is 22.5 m in length and 25.5 m in breadth (Wikramagamage, 2004). The stone pillars at the entrance part have been decorated with nice carvings (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Initially, it was a two-storied building and on the ground floor a standing Buddha statue (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). The upper floor was probably made of timber and had been supported by 54 stone pillars, each 8ft. in height (Ray, 1960). This upper floor was accessed through a granite staircase and few steps of it still remain at the site. The sacred Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic of Buddha may have been deposited on the upper floor of this building (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Near to the Atadage is the Velaikkara inscription inscribed in Grantha, Tamil and Sinhala scripts. According to the inscription, the Tooth Relic which was in the custody of Rajaguru Mugalan Thera had been deposited here and its protection was entrusted to the Velaikkara soldiers who were the hired guards of the king (Wickremasinghe, 1928). Also, this is the place where the first anointment ceremony (of Vijayabahu) was held (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The inscription further reveals that Atadage was the house for a colossal statue of Buddha in which is held annually the ceremony of unloosing the sacred eyes (of the Buddha statue) and applying collyrium to them (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The carved pillars The standing Buddha image
.
References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.76.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.434.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p. 211.
4) 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.242-255.

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This page was last updated on 3 October 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Seetha Amman Temple

Seetha amman temple
Seetha Amman Temple is a Hindu temple (Kovil) in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. The Kovil is situated along the Nuwara Eliya - Welimada road about 8 km far from the Nuwara Eliya bus town. The site is popular among the visitors as a place related to the Hindu epic Ramayanaya.

History
The temple was built by Tamil estate laborers who came to the country in the 19th century (Goonatilake, 2010) and believed to be the earliest Hindu shrine in Nuwara Eliya area (Abeywardana, 2004). Although it bears no historical or archaeological values, the temple is promoted by the locals and tourist agencies as a shrine related to King Ravana and Seetha. According to them this temple site is the place where Seetha (Sita) was held captive by King Ravana. This story is based on an Indian epic called Ramayanaya which is today dismissed as a myth by Indian authorities, judicial courts and academics (Goonatilake, 2010).

Attribution
1) Seetha Amman Temple Seetha Eliya by Buddhika.jm is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p. 221.
2) Goonatilake, S., 2010. Introduction: Inventing Archaeology: The Tourist Board's "Ramayana Trail" 

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Keheliya Raja Maha Viharaya

The Stupa mound at Keheliya Viharaya
Keheliya Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Neluwagala Grama Niladari Division in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka.

History
It is believed that this temple was erected during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C.). The temple consists of a Stupa mound, a ruined image house and stone columns of two ruined buildings. Also, several inscriptions have been found in the temple premises.
A rock inscription, Keheliya Viharaya A pillar inscription at Keheliya Viharaya
A protected reserve
The old Stupa of the Viharaya is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002. The entire temple premises is an archaeological reserve.

A stone artifact, Keheliya Viharaya Scattered ruins at Keheliya Viharaya
Ruins of buildings at Keheliya Viharaya The dilapidated Stupa at Keheliya Viharaya
References 
1) Final Report of Uma-Oya Multipurpose Development Project. November 2010. p. 185.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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This page was last updated on 14 July 2019

Kanabisopokuna Raja Maha Viharaya

Kanabisopokuna Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Kanabisawaramaya Purana Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Handapanagala in Monaragala District Sri Lanka.

It is believed that this temple was erected during the reign of King Dutugemunu (161-137 BC). According to a folklore this temple was constructed by King Dutugamunu's half sister named Kanabisawa. In Sinhalese language, the word Kana means blind and bisawa means queen.

The temple consists of a Stupa mound, stone columns of three ruined buildings and two caves near the southern embankment of Handapanagala reservoir.

The old Stupa and the drip-ledged cave of Kanabiso Pokuna Raja Maha Viharaya are protected archaeological monuments, declared by a Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.
References 
1) Final Report of Uma-Oya Multipurpose Development Project. November 2010. pp. 185-186.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Duwili Ella Falls

Duwili Ella Falls  (also known as Walawe Ganga East Falls) is a waterfall located in Kalthota, Sri Lanka. The fall is about 40 metre-tall and formed by the river Walawe Ganga. The name Duwili is derived from Sinhalese language, which means-the dust or spray.













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