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.

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 Bodhighara (The national atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007; Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997).

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 that 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 access to the lower platform and the retaining walls of the upper platform have been decorated with nice sculptures (Paranavitana, 1959).

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

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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