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.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque
Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, popularly known as Rathu Palliya, lit: Red Mosque or Red Musjid is a mosque located at No. 228, Bankshall Street in Pettah in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The mosque was designed in 1908 by H.L. Saibo Lebbe as a place of worship for the Bohra Muslim community of Indian origin living on the island (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The construction work of the mosque ended in 1909 (Rajapakshe, 2018).

In the beginning, the mosque had a capacity of a congregation of about 1,500 devotees (Rajapakshe, 2018). In 1975, it was expanded allowing a congregation of about 10,000 devotees to pray at the mosque at any given time (Rajapakshe, 2018).

The two-storied mosque building is the main attraction with an aesthetic value. It has been ornate with red and white coloured stripes, chequers and spirals giving a vivid appearance to the building. The towers which rise to the skyward bear pomegranate fruit-shaped domes and have adorned with Islamic symbols. The total design of the mosque is seemed to be influenced by Indo-Islamic architecture (Rajapakshe, 2018). Altering its original appearance, some parts have been added to the mosque building later.

The Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (constructed in 1910) is said to have features similar to the Red Mosque in Pettah (Rajapakshe, 2018).

1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.133.
2) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.42.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.68.

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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Sri Dharmendrarama Viharaya, Mayadunna

Sri Dharmendrarama Viharaya, Mayadunna, Sri Lanka
Sri Dharmendrarama Viharaya (also known as  Mayadunna Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Ampara District Sri Lanka. The temple can be reached by traveling about 1.5 km distance from the Mayadunna junction which is on the Ampara - Mahiyangana road about 17.5 km far from the Ampara town.

According to the local beliefs, the history of this temple is going back to the period of ancient Digamadulla principality (a provincial principality). A large number of archaeological sites belonging to the old Digamadulla principality have been found in the surrounding area.

A protected site
The rock inscription, places with ruins of buildings, and other archaeological evidence in the premises belonging to the Sri Dharmendrarama Rajamaha Vihara in Mayadunne village in the Grama Niladhari Division no. W/04A/055 in Uhana Divisional Secretary’s Division (latitude 07º 25' 32.1'' N and longitude 081º 37' 58.3''E) are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 11 October 2014.

A base stone The rock inscription of Mayadunna temple The Bodhi tree The pond and the image house
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1884. 11 October 2014. p. 922.

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This page was last updated on 21 March 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Monday, 17 September 2018

Gal Potha Stone Inscription

Gal Potha
Gal Potha (lit: Stone book) is a giant stone slab inscription in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It has been established between the eastern outer wall of the Hetadage and Satmahal Prasada

Gal Potha Stone Inscription
This inscription is a work of King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa and is the longest inscription indited by him. It is about 26 ft. 8 in. in length, 4 ft. 7 in. in breadth, and 1 ft. 9 in. (average) in-depth making the inscription one of the largest stone inscriptions so far discovered. The writing is on the smoothed upper surface of the slab and has been divided into three partitions. The letters are well preserved in the first two portions but in the third many of them have been so worn off (Ranawella, 2007). The total number of lines it has are seventy-two, containing more than 4,300 letters (Ranawella, 2007; Wickremasinghe, 1928). Indications show that the inscription had been raised on a brick podium underpinned with short pillars (the weight of the rock slab is approximately 15 tons) and sheltered by a canopy supported by ten stone pillars, 5 ft. in height above floor level (Ranawella, 2007). Two or three letters at the very end of the inscription had inlay indicating that the whole inscription would have been gilded with molten iron (Fernando, 1990).

Both end sides of the stone are decorated with a woman holding flowers to whom a pair of elephants are sprinkling water. This figure has been identified as Gajalakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. Two lines of Hamsas (goose) decorate both sides and ends of the slab. The inscription itself says that this large granite block was transported from Segiriya (present Mihintale in Anuradhapura - located about 70 km from Polonnaruwa) by the strong men of King Nissankamalla under the leadership of Adhikara Totadanavu Mand-navan (Ranawella, 2007; Wickremasinghe, 1928). However it is suggested by some scholars, such as Muller and also Wickremasinghe, that the original location of this slab may not be the Segiriya but Sigiriya which is about 28 km far from Polonnaruwa (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The inscription doesn't bear a date, but from the information it has given, scholars have dated it to the ninth year of the reign of King Nissankamalla (Wickremasinghe, 1928). It outlines the genealogy, some policies, duties, responsibilities, and altruistic deeds of the king.

Gal Potha
Galpota slab inscription of Nissankamalla

Reign: Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Period: 12th century A.D.
Language: Medieval Sinhala mixed with Sanskrit
Script: Medieval Sinhala
Transcript: Sri Dhrmas soyam sarbba lok-aika- manyas - sreyo - dayi sarbba - da raksaniyah bhupalendran yacate kirtti .....>>
Translation: Hail! This Dharma, which gives happiness and which alone deserves to be honoured by the whole world......>>
Citation: Wickremasinghe, 1928

Gal Potha
1) Gal Potha 03 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
2) Gal Potha 05 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

1) Fernando, W.B.M., 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka 1930-1950. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.101.
2) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.53-65.
3) 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.98-123.

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A short note for local school students
පොළොන්නරුව ගල්පොත

ගල්පොත යනුවෙන් හඳුන්වනු ලබන දැවැන්ත ශිලාමය පුවරු ලිපිය ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ පොළොන්නරුව පුරාණ නගරයෙහි හැටදාගෙය නැගෙනහිර පිටත පවුර සහ සත්මහල් ප්‍රාසාදය අතර දැකගත හැකිවේ.

පොළොන්නරුව නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1187-1196) විසින් කරවනු ලැබූ දීර්ඝතම ශිලා ලේඛනය මෙය ලෙස සැළකේ. දිග අඩි 26යි අඟල් 8ක් හා පළල අඩි 4යි අඟල් 7ක් (සාමාන්‍යය) වන සෙල්ලිපිය මෙතෙක් සොයාගෙන තිබෙන විශාලතම ශිලා ලේඛන අතුරින් එකකි. පුවරුවෙහි සුමට කරන ලද ඉහළ මුහුණතෙහි කොටවා ඇති සෙල්ලිපිය කොටස් 3කට බෙදා තිබේ. පේලි 72කින් සමන්විත වන මෙහි අක්ෂර 4300කට වඩා වැඩි ප්‍රමාණයක් ඇත. ශිලා ලේඛනය සහිත ගල් පුවරුව ගඩොල් වේදිකාවක් මත රඳවා තිබූ බවටත් එහි ආරක්ෂාවට පියස්සක් තිබූ බවටත් සාධක පවතී. මෙහි ඇති අකුරු සඳහා ලෝහමය දියරයක් පුරවා තිබෙන්නට ඇතැයි විශ්වාස කෙරේ.

ශිලා පුවරුවෙහි දෙකෙලවර පැති මුහුණත් දෙකෙහි ඇතුන් දෙදෙනෙකු විසින් පිරිවරන ලද පුෂ්ප දරාසිටින කාන්තා රුවක් දැකගත හැකිවන අතර ඇය ගජලක්ෂ්මී දෙවඟන ලෙස හඳුනාගැනේ. සෙල්ලිපියෙහි දක්වා ඇති ආකාරයට මෙම දැවැන්ත ගල් කුට්ටිය සෑගිරියේ (වත්මන් මිහින්තලේ - පොළාන්නරුව සිට කි.මී. 70ක් පමණ දුරින් පිහිටි) සිට ගෙනැවිත් තිබෙනුයේ අධිකාර තොටදනවු මන්ද්නාවන් ප්‍රමුඛ නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ ශක්තිමත් පුරුෂයන් විසිනි. කෙසේනමුදු, මුලර් හා වික්‍රමසිංහ වැනි වියතුන්ගේ මතය අනූව මෙම දැවැන්ත ගල් කුට්ටිය මෙහි ගෙන එන්නට ඇත්තේ සෑගිරිය සිට නොව සීගිරිය (පොළාන්නරුව සිට කි.මී. 28ක් පමණ දුරින් පිහිටි) සිට විය හැකිය.

ශිලා ලේඛනයෙහි දිනයක් සඳහන් නොවූවද එහි අන්තර්ගත කරුණු අනූව වියතුන් විසින් මෙම සෙල්ලිපිය නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ නවවන රාජ්‍ය වර්ෂයට අයත් යැයි අදහස් දක්වා ඇත. නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ පරපුර, වීරක්‍රියා, වගකීම්, හා පුණ්‍ය ක්‍රියා ආදිය මෙම සෙල්ලිපියෙහි විස්තර කෙරේ.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VI, Colombo National Museum

Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VII, Colombo National Museum
Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VI is one of Tamil Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. The inscription is presently exhibited at the outside passage that leads to the Stone Gallery of the National Museum of Colombo

This pillar along with a large number of ruins was discovered in a culvert near the 6th-mile post on the Colombo-Kandy road (Pearson, 1930). A brief account regarding this discovery was published in the "Ceylon Daily News" dated 23 May 1930 (Pearson, 1930). J. Pearson who examined this site with Senarath Paranavitana (the then Epigraphical Assistant) wrote a short note about these findings to the "Journal of the Ceylon Branch of Royal Asiatic Society (Vol. XXXI)". In which he had published a note given to him by S. Paranavitana as follows;
"The culvert in question consists of three piers in the construction of which these ancient stones had been utilized. Some of the stones were embedded in the masonry and no accurate description of the antiquities is possible in their present condition. However, as far as could be observed, there were 32 pillars and 10 slabs besides various architectural fragments, such as mouldings, steps, etc. Of the pillars, 13 were plain square ones; eleven belonged to a type which is square at the base, octagonal in the middle and square again at the top, with no ornamentation. A third type, of which eight examples were found, was ornamented and was on the whole of a more elegant workmanship than the second type.

A Tamil inscription was found on one of the pillars. It consisted on nine lines, of which the last one was completely, and the 6th and 7th partly, worn. My reading of this inscription is as follows:- ..........>>

<<..........The Vijayabahu of this inscription may be identified, on palaeographical grounds, with the seventh of that name whose reign, according to Codrington, extended from 1509 to 1521. The regnal year as well as the day of the month are doubtful; the figures in both cases being not very distinctly visible. The name of the person who gave this pillar to the temple is not completely preserved; all that we can say is that it ended in "rayan". He was probably a South Indian. As this inscription proves, these pillars and probably the other stones, too, belonged to a temple dedicated to Kandasvamy, the most popular of the deities worshipped by the Tamils of Ceylon".
Citation: Pearson, 1930. pp.585-586.
The inscription
The inscription has been engraved on the capital of a stone pillar which could be a pillar that was used to support a hall of a temple. It consists of eight lines and has been written in the Tamil language with the Tamil scripts of about the late 15th or early 16th century A.D. (Pathmanathan, 2005).

Depending on the palaeography, this inscription has been assigned by S. Pathmanathan to the reign of King Vijayabahu VI (1513-1521 A.D.), the ruler of the Kingdom of Kotte (Pathmanathan, 2005). The inscription says that it was recorded in the fourth year of the king, suggesting the written year as 1517 A.D. According to S. Pathmanathan who edit this inscription for the second time (after Paranavitana), this record gives details about the construction of a temple of Kantacuwami (Kandaswami) by a person called Accutan [Kumaran] Nayan (Pathmanathan, 2005; Pearson, 1930).

Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VII Tamil pillar inscription, reign of Vijayabahu VI

Reign: Vijayabahu VI (1513-1521 A.D.)
Period: Late 15th or early 16th centuries A.D.
Language: Tamil 
Script: Tamil
Transcript: Sri vicayavaku tevarku 3 itanukku etiravatu vaikaci 20.....>>
Translation: The 20th (day) of Vaikaci ( May- June), in the year opposite three of his Majesty Vicayavacu tevar......>>

Citation: Pathmanathan, 2005

1) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp. 75-78. 
2) Pearson, J., 1930. Antiquities discovered in a Culvert on the Kandy Road. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, Vol: XXXI. pp.585-587.

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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Rajagala Archaeological Site

The ruined monastery of Rajagala
Rajagala (lit: The monarch rock) or Rassahela is the modern name used for the ancient Ariyakara or Girikumbila Viharaya, a ruined Buddhist monastery complex situated in Uhana Divisional Secretary's Division in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by travelling about 1.5 km distance from the Bakkiella junction which is on the Ampara - Mahaoya main road located about 26 km far from Ampara town. The ruins of the ancient monastery have spread over an area of about 1,025 acres on Rajagalakanda Mountain rising about 346 m above mean sea level.

The site is being conserved by the Department of Archaeology with the full corporation of the University of Sri Jayawardanapura. The government of Sri Lanka as well as the American Ambassadors Grant for Cultural Preservation for years 2013 and 2015 have provided financial provisions for this process. The site was submitted to the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in 2020.

Rajagala, the present name of the monastery has come into the parlance recently. During the past period, a number of names had been used to identify this location. Girikumbila Viharaya, Kubilapi-Tisapavata Viharaya, Ariyakara Viharaya, Ariyakoti Viharaya, Ariththara Vehera, Tissamaha Vihara are some such names mentioned in several chronicles and inscriptions (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 2001; Ranawella, 2005). These names were used in the Anuradhapura Period but may have been forgotten from the memories with the time. A later Brahmi inscription at the site mentions "Racakala" (Raksa-gala) as the locality where the Kubalavi-tisa-pavata (present Rajagala) is located (Paranavitana, 2001).

Rajagala rock inscriptions
Rajagala rock inscription mentioning Arittara vehera

Period: 8-10 centuries A.D.
Transcript: Svasti Senhu vajanin A(ritta)ra vehera vasi vat-himiyanat satarpasa vayutu karana kot.....>>
Translation: Hail! By the order of Sen. In order to provide the four requisites for their lordships residing in the Arittara monastery ......>>
Notes: This inscription (right photograph) records a grant by a local ruler of Rohana, to the monastery called Arittara Vehera.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1934

Rajagala promenade before the conservation Rajagala promenade during the conservation

Flight of steps near the tank before the conservation Flight of steps near the tank after the conservation
According to the information revealed by the chronicles and inscriptions insitu, Rajagala was founded by Prince Lanjatissa (reigned 119-109 B.C.), the eldest son of King Saddhatissa (137- 119 B.C.). Chronicles such as Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa mention that Prince Lanjatissa commenced the establishment of the Girikumbila Viharaya during the period 167-137 B.C. when he was a prince living in the Digamadulla region and handed it over after completion to the Buddhist priests in between 116-109 B.C. Mahawamsa further gives detail about the inauguration ceremony of the Girikumbhila Viharaya. It states that the king donated six garments each to sixty thousand Buddhist monks who attended the ceremony (Dias, 2001). Several inscriptions that have been found on the site record further donations made to the monastery by Lanjatissa and his wives such as Buddhadatta, Shamika, Yahasini, etc. (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970; Sirisoma, 1990). 

  • Rajagala cave inscription of Buddhadatta

    Period: 2nd - 1st centuries B.C.
    Script: Early Brahmi
    Language: Old Sinhalese
    Transcript: Devanapiya maharajhasa Gamini Tisaha Puta Maha[yasajhaya upasi]ka Butadataya lene aga[ta ana]ga[ta catu] di[sa] sagasa
    Translation: The cave of the female lay devotee Buddhadatta, wife of Mahaya, son of the great king Gamani Tissa, the friend of the Gods, [is given] to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
    Notes : Lanjatissa is denoted by Maha aya
    Reference: Paranavitan, 1970.
  • Rajagala cave inscription of Shamika

    Period: 2nd - 1st centuries B.C.
    Script: Early Brahmi
    Language: Old Sinhalese
    Transcript: Devanapiya maharajhaha Gamini Tisaha Putaha Tisa ayaha jhaya upasika Samikaya lene
    Translation: The cave of the female lay devotee Samika, wife of prince Tissa, son of the great king Gamani Tissa, the friend of the Gods.
    Notes : Lanjatissa is denoted by Prince Tissa 
    Reference: Paranavitana, 1970.

Royal patronage
After being founded by Prince Lanjatissa, Girikumbila Viharaya received the royal patronage of the kings of Anuradhapura as well as the viceroys of Ruhuna territory (Ranawella, 2005). An inscription indited on a rock at a later period records a grant made to this temple by Kutakanna Tissa (41-19 B.C.) before he ascended the throne (Dias, 2001; Paranavitana, 1983). Mahadathika Mahanaga (7-19 A.D.), Mahasena (276-303 A.D.) are the several names of the kings who are recorded in inscriptions at the site (Paranavitana, 1983; Paranavitana, 2001). Historical resources prove the existence of the monastery during the period of King Dappula I (659 A.D.) and King Udaya I (797-801 A.D.).

After its establishment, there is no reference in Mahawamsa regarding the temple until seven centuries. However, the information available in other literary resources as well as in the inscriptions insitu and nearby areas is important in bridging this gap. Literature sources such as Seehalavattupakaranaya, Rasavahini, Attakatha, and Saddharmalankaraya contain several stories related to Girikumbila Viharaya. The tale of Mahadatta Thera, Ariyakara Vihara Vasthu, and the story of Dhamma (in Rasavahini) give some information connected with the monastery. 
A ruined monastery building, Rajagala

Rajagala rock inscription of Saint Mahinda
About 70-100 inscriptions have been discovered so far in Rajagala (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1970; Paranavitana, 1983; Paranavitana, 2001; Ranawella, 2005). Among them, the rock inscription regarding the Arhat Mahinda Thera [(also called Mahendra (Sanskrit) or Mihindu] is historically important and considered the most valued inscription of archaeological interest found in the monastery (Medhananda, 2003). 
Period: Circa 200 B.C.
Script: Early Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhalese
Transcript: Ye ima dipa paṭamaya idiya agatana Iḍika-[tera-Ma] hida-teraha tube
Translation: This is the Stupa of elder Ittiya and the elder Mahinda, who came to this island by its foremost good fortune.
Note: The inscription mentions Mahinda and Itthiya, the names of the two of seven missionaries who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka as described in the ancient chronicles (see Mihintale).
Reference: Paranavitana, 1962

Mihindu Seya at Rajagala
This inscription marks the spot where the Stupa  (Mihindu Seya) was erected over a portion of the relics of Arhat Mahinda Thera. Senarath Paranavithana who edited this inscription presumes that the Stupa located adjacent to this inscription (right picture) may have been built soon after the demise of the Arhat Mahinda (Paranavitana, 1962). The Mahawamsa says that after the cremation of Arhat Mahinda, the relics were enshrined in Stupas throughout the country. The aforesaid inscription confirms this fact given in the Mahavamsa (Medhananda, 2003). 

The monastery complex went wild after the South Indian invasions in 993 and 1017 and since then it gradually deteriorated due to natural causes and also due to vandalism by treasure hunters.

Stone bowls building
Besides the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, Rajagala is considered another place where a large number of archaeological monuments are concentrated. It is also the only place in the country where an inscription confirms the enshrinement of the relics of Arhat Mahinda Thera, the Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.). 

All the structures and buildings found in Rajagala belong to the Anuradhapura Period. Ruins ranging from the 2 century B.C. to the 11 century A.D. have been identified (De Silva, 1990). In a recent study, about 593 monastic remains have been identified at the site scattered in an area of 400 hectares. These ruins indicate that Rajagala was a monastery of Pabbatha Vihara and Vanavasa style with cave dwellings depicting an ancient mediation monastery.

Kuda lena
The monastic structures at the site include Stupas, Alms-halls, Uposathaghara, Janthaghara, Asanaghara, Bodhighara, other religious & service buildings, pathways, stone stairways,  and monks’ residences in caves. The site also consists of several ponds to collect water in several locations and also a small tank in the common area. The building in which large stone bowls are found is identified as a special building in the monastery which is still in operation. It has been used for the collection of spring water for cooking and drinking purposes. The special cave carved to look like an umbrella (Kuda lena) to assemble the people to hear the preaching of monks is also considered a rare monument.

Evolution of Muragala (from Rajagala) Old brick structures, Rajagala A building during the conservation, Rajagala An inscription A circular building Rajagala stone entrance Vedda paintings

1) De Silva, R., 1990. Painting (Early period 247 B.C. to 800 A.D.). Nandadeva W. (Editor in chief), Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series (Vol. V). Painting. p. 31.
2) Dias, M, 2001. The growth of Buddhist monastic institutions in Sri Lanka from Brahmi inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology Survey. ISBN: 955-9264-04-4. p.48.
3) Medhananda, 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.232-238.
4) Nicholas, C.W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol. VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch), p.27.
5) Paranavitana,  S., 1934. Three rock inscriptions at Rassahela. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of  Ceylon (Vol. IV).  Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.169-176.
6) Paranavitana, S., 1962. An inscription of circa 200 B.C. at Rajagala commemorating saint Mahinda. University of Ceylon review by Ceylon University Press. pp.159–162.
7) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.lx,33-35.
8) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.2-4,15-16.
9) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.193-194,259-260.
10) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. pp.114-115,136-138,145,157.
11) Sirisoma, M. H., 1990. Brahmi inscriptions of Sri Lanka from 3rd century B.C. to 65 A.D. Nandadeva W. (Editor in chief), Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series (Vol. II). Inscriptions. p. 23.

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Friday, 14 September 2018

Maha Oya Hot Springs

Maha Oya Hot Springs
Maha Oya Thermal Springs, also called as Maha Oya hot water springs or thermal cluster (Sinhala: මහ ඔය උණුදිය ලිං), are in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site is located about 2.5 km distance from the Maha Oya town.

Hot water springs
BubblesCommonly, thermal springs in the world are associated with volcanic terrain but the hot springs located in Sri Lanka are said to be not related to volcanic activities as the island is not in an active volcanic or tectonic region (Premasiri et al., 2006). Therefore, the waters can get heat either from subsurface heat sources such as large bodies of hot rocks or through deep percolation under the geochemical gradient of the earth (Adikaram & Dharmagunawardhane, 2013). If these waters find weak structural discontinuities leading upward they rise to the surface and emerge as naturally discharging hot water springs.

Maha Oya springs
The Maha Oya springs occur in the boundary between Highland Complex (HC) and Vijayan Complex (VC). This boundary is a sub-horizontal ductile thrust zone where a number of geologic features are identified. They include major mineralization occurrences such as magnetite, serpentinite, gold, corundum and calcite as well as formations of hot water springs (Widanagamage, 2011). There are seven out flowing hot water wells at the Maha Oya springs site. The average temperature of the hottest well is about 58°C while the lowest is 38°C (Adikaram & Dharmagunawardhane, 2013).

Maha Oya Hot Springs Maha Oya Hot Springs
1) Adikaram, A.M.N.M., Dharmagunawardhane, H.A., 2013. Diurnal temperature variations in thermal water springs: A case study at Mahaoya thermal spring cluster, Sri Lanka.
2) Premasiri, H.M.R., Wijeyesekera, D.S., Weerawarnakula, S. and Puswewala, U.G.A., 2006. Formation of Hot Water Springs in Sri Lanka. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. p.7.
3) Widanagamage, I.H., 2011. EMPA dating of monazite from high grade metamorphic rocks along the Highland-Vijayan boundary zone, Sri Lanka. MSc thesis, Kent State University. pp.17-18

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Saturday, 8 September 2018

Jetavanarama Gold Plates (Colombo National Museum)

Jetavanarama Gold Plates, Colombo Museum
Jetavanarama Gold Plates or Jetavanarama Golden Manuscript (Sinhala: ජේතවනාරාම රන් පත්), were found from the Jetavanarama Vihara complex in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The manuscript consists of seven gold plates and contains an epigraph written in the Sanskrit language. The plates are now exhibited in the National Museum of Colombo.

These golden plates were discovered at the Jetavanarama Monastery during an archaeological excavation done under the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is said that the plates were found deposited in a clay pot (Dhammaratana, 2000).

Jetavanaramaya is a Buddhist temple built by King Mahasen (278-303 A.D.). According to historical sources, this temple at its beginning was serving as an institute of Mahayana Buddhism. Several epigraphs belonging to the Mahayana tradition have been found on this site.
Veneration of Dharma books/relics (or Dhammadhatu) is a common ritual in Mahayana tradition and such veneration to the books especially those belonging to the Prajnaparamita group (ex: Pancavimsati-sahasrika, Astasahasrika) was considered as an act of merit. Therefore, plates or leaves written with these stanzas were enshrined in relic chambers as both a sacred object and a relic.

The gold plates discovered from Jetavanarama premises can be linked with the narration made by the chronicles of the bringing of the Dhammadhatu in the 12th regnal year of King Silakala [(522-535 A.D.) Dias, 2001]. It is recorded that the king placed it in a shrine close to the palace and a festival was held in its honour at the Jetavanarama every year (Dias, 2001).

The epigraph on the plates contains a portion but an exact copy of the Mahayana Buddhist text Pancavimsati-sahasrika – Prajnaparamitasutra, one of the earliest texts written in about the 2nd century A.D.

Jetavanarama Gold Plates
Jetavanarama Golden Manuscript

Period: 9-10th century A.D.
Language: Sanskrit
Script: Sinhala
Location: Jetavanaramaya, Anuradhapura
Number of plates: 7 gold plates
Length & width: 62.7 cm & 2.9 cm
Reference: National Museum of Colombo

This inscription is the lengthiest Sanskrit inscription (considering the number of scripts) discovered so far in Sri Lanka (Dhammaratana, 2000). It has been written in Sinhalese scripts of the Pallava Grantha type (Dhammaratana, 2000). If the inscription has its complete text, it would have had more than 35 gold plates.

See also

1) Dhammaratana, I., 2000. Sanskrit Inscriptions in Sri Lanka: A thesis submitted to the University of Pune in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sanskrit. Department of Sanskrit & Prakrit Languages, University of Pune, India. pp.230-299.
2) Dias, M, 2001. The growth of Buddhist monastic institutions in Sri Lanka from Brahmi inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology Survey. ISBN: 955-9264-04-4. pp.44-45.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.139.

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Friday, 7 September 2018


Pujãvaliya is a Sinhalese classic written in the 13th century. It was compiled by Buddhaputra Sthavira (commonly known as Mayurapãda Thera) of Mayurapãda Pirivena (probably Mayurawathi Viharaya) after accepting the invitation by Deva Prathiraja (Wikramasinghe, 1900). 

Pujavaliya was compiled by Buddhaputra Sthavira when he was living in Prathiraja Piriven Viharaya at Palabathgala during the period between 1266-1275 A.D. It is the first book written by Sthavira (Gnanawimala, 1997). The major intention of compiling the book was to extol the Araham, one of nine epithets of Buddha (Wikramasinghe, 1900). It contains a collection of tales related to the Buddha and many of his followers as well as some accounts of the history of Sri Lanka.  The tales have been chronologically arranged in 34 chapters.

Chapters of Pujavaliya 
    1) Pǔjãsangraha Kathã
    2) Abhinîhãra Magul Pǔjã Kathã
    3) Vivarana Magul Pǔjã Kathã
    4) Bodhisambhãra Pǔjã Kathã
    5) Jãthibheda Pǔjã Kathã
    6) Dwithîya Jãthibheda Pǔjã Kathã
    7) Sãdhunãda Pǔjã Kathã
    8) Prathisandhi Pǔjã Kathã
    9) Prasava Mangala Pǔjã Kathã
    10) Mahãbhinikman Pǔjã Kathã
    11) Bõdhimandala Pǔjã Kathã
    12) Sãdhunãda or Ayãchana Pǔjã Kathã
    13) Isipathanãrãma Pǔjã Kathã
    14) Vēluvanãrãma Pǔjã Kathã
    15) Nigrõdharãma Pǔjã Kathã
    16) Bhikshãtanãdi Adbhǔtha Pǔjã Kathã
    17) Jēthavanãrãma Pǔjã Kathã
    18) Pǔrvãrãma Pǔjã Kathã
    19) Namaskãrãdi Pǔjã Kathã
    20) Asadrisha Mahãdãna Pǔjã Kathã
    21) Gangã Rõhana Pǔjã Kathã
    22) Divya Rãja Pǔjã Kathã
    23) Yamaka Prãthihãrya Pǔjã Kathã
    24) Pãndukambalãsana Pǔjã Kathã
    25) Dēvõrõhana Pǔjã Kathã
    26) Bhikshunî Sãsana Utpatti Pratipatti Pǔjã Kathã
    27) Adãhana Pǔjã Kathã
    28) Jivakãrãma Pǔjã Kathã
    29) Samameth Noyek Jãthibheda Pǔjã Kathã
    30) Jîvithadî Pǔjã Kathã
    31) Prãtihãryadî Pratipatti Pǔjã Kathã
    32) Uddēsika Pǔjã Kathã
    33) Samyak Pratipatti Pǔjã Kathã
    34) Lankadvipa Uddēsika Pǔjã Kathã

1) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.31-35.
2) Gnanawimala, K., 1997. Pujavaliya. Colombo. M. D. Gunasena. pp.iii-xxiii.

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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Sinha Pokuna (Mihintale)

Sinha Pokuna
Sinha Pokuna (the Lion pond) is one of the ponds in the ancient Buddhist monastery complex of Mihintale in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. It is found among the ruins on the ground opposite Kantaka Cetiya.

Sinha Pokuna
The pond has been given its name since there is a statue of a lion standing with two legs. The lion figure has been made on the outer wall of the lower terrace of the pond. The water is discharged through the mouth of the lion making a spout. This was used to collect water (or bath?) for the use of Buddhist monks. The water for the pond had been supplied from the Naga Pokuna through a tunnel.

The pond is believed to be a work of the 7th century AD (Wikramagamage, 2004). Therefore, it is considered one of the oldest ponds with a spout in Sri Lanka (Wikramagamage, 2004). There is another spout different in appearance in one of the ponds at Ranmasu Uyana garden near Tissa Wewa (Wikramagamage, 2004).

1) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.165-166.

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Naga Pokuna (Mihintale)

Naga Pokuna, Mihintale
The Naga Pokuna (lit. the cobra pond) is one of the ponds in the ancient Buddhist monastery complex of Mihintale in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

Naga Pokuna
The history of the Naga Pokuna runs back to the time of the arrival of Arhat Mahinda Thera in Sri Lanka who brought Buddhism to the island in the 3rd century B.C. (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is mentioned in the chronicles that the pond named Nagacatukka was used as a bathing tank by Mahinda Thera and the monks of the Vihara (Nicholas, 1963). Chronicles further record that King Aggabodhi I (575-608 A.D.) had built a bath at Cetiyagiri (modern Mihintale) by the name Nagasondi and supplied it with a continual stream of water (Wickremasinghe, 1912).

It is believed that both Nagacatukka and Nagasondi, refer to the same pond and the pond Nagasondi of King Aggabodhi I is a further development of the natural pond named Nagacatukka (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The pond is about 38.94 meters in length. Filled with rainwater, it supplies water to the Sinha Pokuna (the lion pond) and the Alms Hall (Wikramagamage, 2004). A curved figure of a cobra with five hoods can be seen at a point close to the centre of the pond (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Naga Pokuna, Mihintale.
1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.163.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp. 168-169.
3) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological survey of Ceylon. p.82.

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Sunday, 2 September 2018

Pitakotte Gal Ambalama

Pitakotte Gal Ambalama
Pitakotte Gal Ambalama (Sinhala: කෝට්ටේ ගල් අම්බලම) is a stone doss-house located in Pita-Kotte in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country. The Ambalama at Pitakotte junction is one such structure built during the period of the Kingdom of Kotte (1412 - 1597 A.D.) and at the time it served as a resting or waiting place for the outside visitors who came to the capital and to the famous Buddhist temple, Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya.

The structure
Pitakotte Gal Ambalama, Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte, Sri Lanka
The structure is today standing aside of the Kotte road at the Pitakotte junction. It is about 12 feet in height, 20 feet in length, and 15 feet in width (Manathunga, 2016; Wijewardana et al., 2011). The roof is seemed to be completely renovated and is borne by 10 stone pillars (Wijewardana et al., 2011). Stone pillars contain no carvings and are connected to each other by a recently built short wall. Due to a road widening program by the Road Development Authority, the Ambalama was dismantled recently from its original place and re-positioned in the current location (Fonseka, 2010). 

A protected monument
The rock doss house (Pita Kotte Gal Ambalama) in the Pita Kotte Grama Niladari Division (GND No. 522 B) is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 16 August 2013.

# Yatawara Gal Ambalama
1) Fonseka, P., 2010. The Ancient City of Kōṭṭe and its Fortification. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 56, p.62.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.89-90.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Extraordinary. no: 1823/73. 16 August 2013. p. 5A.
4) Wijewardana, A., Thilakawardana, A. E. L., Priyangani, S., 2011. Aithihasika Kotte (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-9159-69-8. pp.21-22.

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Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya, Govinda Hela

Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya
Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya or Bingoda Forest Hermitage (බිංගොඩ ආරණ්‍ය සේනාසනය) is an ancient Buddhist cave temple in Siyambalanduwa Divisional Secretary's Division in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. The temple is located in Bowela village near to the famous rock mountain Govinda Hela.

A large number of drip-ledged caves prepared as dwellings for the Sangha (Buddhist monks) are found at the site. Many of them contain inscriptions (written in Brahmi letters) inscribed just below the drip-ledges (Kataram).
Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya
As today, many of the caves have been abandoned but few of them are still being used by the temple monks. Several caves are totally in collapsed condition due to the results of natural and human activities. Remnants of original mud plaster and structures such as rubble walls can be seen in some caves.

A protected site
All the caves with drip-ledges and all the caves with Brahmi letters, all ruins of buildings and flight of rock steps in the territory of Bingoda Forest Hermitage are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 16 August 2013.

Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya Bingoda Aranya Senasanaya .
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Extraordinary. no: 1823/73. 16 August 2013. p. 5A.

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