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.

Location Map

1 comment:

  1. The painting should be more conserved. Only small part is remaining today

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