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. have 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, October 13, 2019

Kumara Pokuna

Kumara Pokuna
The Kumara Pokuna is a royal bath located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
The great chronicle, Mahawamsa records this pond as "Sila Pokkharani" built by King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Ray, 1960]. Although, the site is located outside of the citadel it may have belonged to King Parakramabahu's royal park named "Nandana Uyana".

Pond
The pond which is built with a cruciform ground plan has been attractively finished with elegantly smoothed stone slabs. The pond is about 44 ft. long and 38 ft. wide at the surface level and its dimension is reducing toward the bottom of the pond (Ray, 1960). A flight of steps at the western side of the pond provides the access to the bath. The water which comes from the moat at the foot of the citadel wall reaches to the pond along an underground passage and falls into the pond through dragon-mouthed conduits fixed on the inner walls (Ray, 1960). The used water is drained off through a specific outlet which is controlled with a stone nail (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The ruins of the pavilion which are located on the south of the pond is thought to be the "Salu Mandapaya" (the changing room) for those who were privileged to use this bath (Wikramagamage, 2004; Ray, 1960). An elegantly carved "Sandakada Pahana" (a moonstone) can be seen at the entrance of this pavilion (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Kumara Pokuna, Polonnaruwa Kumara Pokuna, Polonnaruwa

Attribution
1) Polonnaruwa-Kumara Pokuna (3) by Ji-Elle is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
2) Kumara Pukuna 02 by Bgag is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
3) Polonnaruwa-Kumara Pokuna (5) by Ji-Elle is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

References
1) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.603.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.207-208.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 13 October 2019

Pabalu Vehera

Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa
Pabalu Vehera is a ruined Buddhist monastery located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It is located to the south of the main street which starts from the eastern gate.

History
There is no evidence to prove the exact builder or the ancient name of this monastery. It is popularly believed that the Pabalu Vehera could be the Stupa which is supposed to have been built by Queen Rupavathi, a consort of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.).

Pabalu Vehera
Pabalu Vehera
Presently, this site including the large Stupa is called as "Pabalu Vehera" (meaning: the beads Stupa/temple). This name may have been attached to this monastic complex, owing to the discovery of a large amount of beads in the vicinity around the Stupa.

A number of image houses, each comprising images in different postures, have been built around the Stupa. The image houses are vary in size and the largest of them houses an image of reclining Buddha. At the south of the Stupa is a narrow staircase in three flights providing access to the top of the basal tiers. During the excavations, a round stone and the "Yupa" with melted iron fragments on them had been found by archaeologists (Fernando, 1990).

Pabalu Vehera copper plaque
A stone slab used as a deposit container was found from Pabalu Vehera along with several other objects such as bronzes, reliquaries, a miniature Stupa and beads (Ślączka, 2007). The slab had nine regular square compartments and one of them contained a copper plaque inscribed with a Sanskrit inscription of two lines (Ślączka, 2007). 

  • Pabalu Vehera Sanskrit Inscription

    Period : 9-10th centuries A.D.
    Script  : Sinhala
    Language : Sanskrit


    Transcript : (1) Om manipa (2) (dme) sv(o)sti
    Translation : Translation is difficult as it contains mysterious words.
    Citation : Dhammaratana, 2000.

.
According to Dhammaratana, this inscription is an invocation address to Tara, a Tantric goddess who was widely worshiped in Sri Lanka during the 9-10 centuries A.D. (Dhammaratana, 2000).

Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa Pabalu Vehera, Polonnaruwa

References
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.391-394.
2) Fernando, W.B.M., 1990. History of the Department of Archaeology, 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.
3) Ślączka, A.A., 2007. Temple consecration rituals in ancient India: text and archaeology (Vol. 26). Brill. pp.382-383.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 13 October 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Pita Kotte in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Kotte temple is dated back to the period of Kotte Kingdom (1412-1597 A.D.). The temple which was the main religious center for the Kingdom of Kotte during the 15 century, is described in details in Sandesha Kavya (poetic literature) of the era and was developed under the royal patronage of King Parakramabahu VI [(1412-1467 A.D.) Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018].

At the time, the temple is said to be completed in all aspects including a three storeyed Temple of Tooth, a Stupa, a Bodhi-tree, an image house and a Pohoya Geya. It was located near to the royal palace of Kotte and therefore, it received much royal patronage of the kings of Kotte Kingdom. However, with the down fall of Kotte Kingdom, the temple confronted invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). During the Dutch period, the temple was completely destroyed .

The destroyed Kotte Viharaya was re-established by Ven. Pilane Buddha Rakkhitha Thera in 1818, by utilizing the ruins and remains of the old temple (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). New constructions such as an image house and a Vahalkada/Vahal Doratuwa (the entrance to the temple premises) were added to the temple subsequently by Buddha Rakkhitha Thera.

Folklore
Presently, a Na-tree (iron wood) located few meters outside of the temple premises, is worshiped as a sacred tree by the local people. They connect the history of this tree with Prince Sapumal, the adopted son of King Parakramabahu VI, who attacked Jaffna (Yapa Patuna) and brought it under the control of Kotte Kingdom. According to them, Prince Sapumal had made a vow to this Na-tree prior to his departure to capture Jaffna peninsula.
  
Literary mentions
Nampotha (Vihara Asna)
The temple at Kotte is mentioned in the 15th century Sinhalese text "Nampotha" as "Jayawardhana Kottayehi Oth Pilima Geya" & "Shanmukha Devalaya". The Oth Pilima Geya (the house of reclining statue) is believed to be the image house (with reclining Buddha statue) of old Kotte temple built by King Parakramabahu VI while the shrine in front of it, is believed to be the Shanmukha Devalaya.

Image house
The image house which has a rectangular shape, is about 40 ft. long, 30 ft. wide, and 40 ft high (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The open verandah which facing the north makes the access to the image house and its roof is supported by eight pairs of cylindrical shaped pillars. 

The image house consists of two sections; the outer hall and the middle Mandapaya (a pavilion). The outer hall runs around the middle Mandapaya and can be accessed through two separated entrances. The middle Mandapaya also contains two compartments: the outer section and the inner section. The front and side walls of the outer section have been adorned with Kandyan era paintings (Southern School art style) and sculptures depicting floral decorations, divinities and Jathaka stories such as Thelapatta, Manichora, Chulla Paduma and Kattahari (Rajapakshe et al., 2018) . The inner section which can be accessed through two entrances, houses four Buddha statues; a large reclining statue and three standing statues (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). A portrait of Queen Victoria and a crest containing the name "Jayawardana Kotte Jayawardhana Maha Vihara" in English are found drawn over the right and left entrance doors of the inner section (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

A portrait of Queen Victoria, Kotte temple Queen Victoria at Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

A portrait  of Queen Victoria  who received  the  coronation
as  the  queen  of  all colonial  countries has  been  painted
over the inner entrance (the right door) of the image house
of  Kotte  Raja  Maha  Viharaya.  A  similar portrait  can  be
seen at Dehiwala Karagampitiya Viharaya.
Reference : Chutiwongs et al., 1990. p.34.
Besides the old image house, several other constructions such as the Vahal Doratuwa, the Kataragama Devalaya, and the Bamunu Geya are considered as old monuments with archaeological interests (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

A protected site
The all artifacts and the ancient Wahalkada (Gateway) located in the territory of the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara in the Grama Niladari Division of Pitakotte (GND No. 522) in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 20 June 2014.
 
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya

Attribution
1) Kotte Raja Maha Vihara 1 by L Manju is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

References
1) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilaka, L.; Silva, R., 1990. Sri Lanka Bithu Sithuwam: Karagampitiya (Paintings of Sri Lanka: Karagampitiya). Sri Lanka Archaeological Authority: Centenary publication. Central Cultural Fund. p.34.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.85.
3) 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. pp.7-5.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1868. 20 June 2014. p.503.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 12 October 2019

Kothalawala Sankhapitti Viharaya, Kaduwela

Sankhapitti Viharaya, Kothalawala
Sankhapitti Purana Viharaya (also known as Kothalawala temple) is a Buddhist temple situated in Kothalawala village in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It is located on wayside of Kaduwela - Battaramulla road about 650 m distance from the Kaduwela bus stand.

History
Sankhapitti Viharaya, Kothalawala
The early history of Sankhapitti Viharaya is not clear. It is believed that this temple has been established during the end of Kotte period (1412-1597 A.D.) or the beginning of Kandyan Kingdom (1469-1815 A.D.). The old paintings and sculptures which are found in the temple's image house are said to be belong to a period parallel to the Kotte era.

An old manuscript which is currently in the possession of the temple reveals that the trusteeship of this Vihara had been transferred to Batugedara Gnanalankara Thera by the then caretaker, Hakpitiye Aththadassi Thera. This letter which has been dated in 1823, is considered important as it is the only written document which containing the earliest date related with the history the temple.

A protected site
The ancient image house in the premises of the Sankhapitti Vihara in Kotalawala village in Kaduwela Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 948. 1 November 1996.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 12 October 2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Panasawanarama Purana Viharaya, Kospillewa

Panasawanarama Purana Viharaya, Kospillewa
Panasawanarama Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the village of Kospillewa in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. The temple can be reached by traveling along the Udugampola - Naiwala road about 2 km distance from the Udugampola roundabout.

A protected site
The old Dhamma Sala (the preaching hall) situated in Kospillewa Panasawanarama Purana Vihara premises in Pedipola Grama Niladhari Wasama of the Minuwangoda Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 6 October 2019

Walathapitiya Palaveli Archaeological Site

Walathapitiya Palaveli archaeological site
A site with archaeological ruins has been discovered in Palaveli village in Walathapitiya (Walathapitty in Tamil language) in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. Situated near to the Walathapitiya Wewa, this site can be reached by traveling along the Ampara - Sammanture highway about 5.7 km distance from the Ampara town.

Ruins
Two sites located adjacent to each other have been declared as archaeological sites by two Gazette notifications published on 10 October 2014 (No. 1884) and 26 December 2014 (No. 1895). The monuments those have been identified in the Gazette notification No. 1884, include the ruins of a Bodhighara (the shrine of Bodhi-tree) and a Chaitya (Stupa), both are considered as common elements usually found in Buddhist temples.

However, presently, this site has been given a Hindu appearance by local people by constructing a new Kovil (a Hindu shrine) there.

A protected site
The Gazette notification : 10 October 2014. 
The Palaweli archaeological site with other archaeological evidences including the ruins of a Bodhighara, an ancient Chaitya, building sites, inscriptions, flight of steps belonging to Palaweli village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 89B, Walathapitiya 01 in the Divisional Secretary’s Division Sammanture in Ampara District in Eastern Province. (latitude 07º 18' 34.3'' N and longitude 081º 43' 09.1'' E).

The Gazette notification : 26 December 2014.
The rock plane with other archeological evidences including ancient letters and signs in front of the premises of Shivan Kovil belonging to Palaweli Village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division 89B, Walathapitiya 01 in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Samanturei in Ampara District in Eastern Province. (Latitude 07º 18' 27.6'' N and longitude 81º 43' 05.1'' E).

Walathapitiya Palaweli Archaeological Site Walathapitiya Palaweli Archaeological Site
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1884. 10 October 2014. p. 922.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1895. 26 December 2014. p. 1149.

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This page was last updated on 6 October 2019

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Rambadagalla Vidyasagara Piriven Viharaya

Rambadagalla Buddha
Rambadagalla Viharaya (also known as Vidyasagara Piriven Viharaya, Monaragala) is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Rambadagalla in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. Presently, the temple has become an attractive place among the visitors due to the recently constructed gigantic rock-hewn Buddha statue known as Rambadagalla Buddha. This statue is believed to be one of the largest rock-cut sitting Buddha statues in the world.

Statue
An idea to construct a large Buddha statue in Rambadagalla Viharaya is said to be come as a result of the destruction of Buddhas of Bamyan in Afganistan (Two gigantic Buddha statues known as Bamyan Buddhas, were destroyed in March 2001 by Taliban, an Islamic military organization). Ven Egodamulle Amaramoli Thera who is the chief incumbent of Rambadagalla temple pioneered in the construction of the statue. The project was helped by a large number of donors including Deivanayagam Pillai Eassuwaren (a Hindu businessman), Mahinda Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka president) and Nirupama Rao (Indian High Commissioner in Colombo).

Commenced in 2002, the construction work of the statue was carried out under the supervision of M. Muthiah Sthapathi, a renown South Indian sculptor who had been awarded the "Padma Sri" honour by the Indian Government. The statue which is 67.5 ft high (the total height is said to be 75 ft with its pedestal) was completed after more than one decade and officially unveiled on 30 April 2015 by the then Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena.

In 2018, a book under the title "The Compassionate Buddha of the Rock" which deals with the historical significance of the Samadhi Buddha statue in Rambadagalla temple was released coincide of the first year remembrance of its late author, Deivanayagam Pillai Eassuwaren. 

Attribution
1) Beautiful Buddha Statue by VINUK86 is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

Location Map
This page was last updated on 5 October 2019

Lankathilaka Pilimage, Polonnaruwa

Lankathilaka Image House, Polonnaruwa
The Lankathilaka Pilimage/ Pilima Geya (or Lankatilaka image house) is a Gedige (vaulted) type image house located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It is considered as the largest image house constructed in ancient Sri Lanka.

History
Lankathilaka Image House, Polonnaruwa
Constructed by King Parakramabahu the great (1153-1186 A.D.), Lankatilaka image house was belonged to the Alahana Pirivena monastery (Wikramagamage, 2004). Epigraphical evidences are there to prove that this image house had been renovated during the reign of King Vijayabahu IV [(1270-1272 A.D.) Dambadeniya Period].

Image House
The image house which is said to be consisted of five storeys, has been completely built out of bricks including the roof. As in the case of Tivanka Pilimage, the ground plan of Lankathilake image house mainly consists of three parts, viz: the sanctum, the vestibule, and the entrance porch. 

The entrance porch of this image house faces the east. A flight of steps associated with two Korawak Gal (balustrades) and two Muragal (guard stones) can be seen at the beginning of the entrance. The balustrades and guard stones have been decorated with ornate carvings and some believe that the low-relief figure carved in the guard stones represent Dratarastra Maharaja, the lord of the east (Wikramagamage, 2004). Also, the woman figure presenting on the inner side of the balustrade (see the photograph under the "Inscription" section), according to some, is the wife of Dratarastra (Wikramagamage, 2004). This woman figure who is in trice-bent pose carries a pot on her left hand while holding a bunch of flower by the right hand (Wikramagamage, 2004). She is accompanied by two attendant women.

In the sanctum is a giant headless standing Buddha statue with broken hands. The Buddha statue is more than 40 feet high and has been built attached to a screen wall between which and the inner side of the rear wall of the image house is a narrow ambulatory (Ray, 1960). The edge of the robe falling down from the left hand had been supported by a lion figure (now destroyed) seated on the lotus pedestal. The giant Buddha statue and the two pylons at the entrance of the image house (which are about 55 feet high in its destroyed state) have given a majestic appearance to the image house.

Two ground levels are observed inside the sanctum. A portion with the same level of vestibule is in front of the pedestal of the image and on either side of this portion, the ground has been elevated. These raised grounds have been planted with square-shaped stone pillars with decorated capitals. The pillars as well as the beam holes on the side wall indicate the existence of an old upper story or gallery of wooden construction for veneration of the image (Ray, 1960). The flight of steps attached to the side walls had led the devotees to the roof for the purpose of circumambulation. The Buddha statue originally had been sheltered with a brick-made vaulted roof but presently remains in the open environment as the vault has collapsed long ago. 

Lankatilaka image house
The exterior walls of the image house has been adorned with stucco relief sculptures depicting miniature edifices (Vimana/ Pasadas) together with divinities (Ray, 1960). Remaining painting fragments on the walls indicate that the image house had been adorned with wall paintings. In front of the Lankatilaka image house is a building with carved stone pillars (a pillared Mandapa) which is believed to be a pavilion for Hevisi drummers.

Inscription
An inscription of King Vijayabahu IV is found inscribed on the Muragala (guard stone) located at the left side of the entrance porch. 

Lankatilaka Guard Stone Inscription
Reign    : Vijayabahu IV (1270-1272 A.D.)
Period   : 13th century A.D.
Language : Pali
Script     : Medieval Sinhala
Content : The  inscription says that  King
Vijayabahu IV renovated  the Lankatilaka
Viharaya, hundred years after it was built
by the great King Parakramabahu.
Reference : The information board at the
site  by  the  Department  of  Archaeology
and the Ministry of National Heritage.
Lankatilaka guardstone Inscription
Lankatilaka Pilimage Lankatilaka image house Lankathilaka Pilima Ge Lankathilaka image house Lankathilaka, Polonnaruwa
Attribution
1) Lankatilaka temple 02 by Bgag is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

References
1) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.217-218.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. pp.597-598.
 
Location Map

This page was last updated on 5 October 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1

Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1
The Siva Devale No. 1 (also known as Shiva Kovil No. 1) is one of Siva temples situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
The Anuradhapura Kingdom of Sri Lanka was invaded in 993 A.D. by the South Indian King Rajaraja I (985-1014 A.D.) and his son, King Rajendra Chola I (1014-1044 A.D.) completed the conquest in 1017 A.D. by taking the control of the country. They chose Polonnaruwa as their administrative center and ruled Sri Lanka from 1017 A.D. to 1070 A.D., until they were defeated and expelled by King Vijayabahu I (1055–1110 A.D.).

The throne of Polonnaruwa Kingdom after King Parakramabahu I (1123-1186 A.D.) was passed to King Nissankamalla (1187–1196 A.D.) and then to the hands of few rulers who were weak in reigning (Dias et al., 2016). As a result of that, the country's political stability became more poor and the situation was comported for the invasions carried out by several Tamil invaders from South India. Magha (1215–1236 A.D.) of Kalinga (India) who came with a large army from Malabar (Kerala) invaded Sri Lanka during this period and became the ruler of the country.  He ruled Polonnaruwa for 21 years and was expelled in 1236 A.D.

Siva Devale No. 1
While Siva Devale No. 2 was built in the Chola style in the name of the queen of King Rajaraja I, the original name or the builder of Siva Devale No. 1 are not known. However, the architecture of the temple indicate that it may have been built during the 13th century A.D. Therefore, the temple is believed to be a product of Pandya style built after the occupation of Polonnaruwa by Magha of Kalinga.

Ruins of another old monument ?
The base of this shrine was in a hazardous condition for a long period of time and had subsided recently. In order to remove the weak base of the monument properly and to strengthen and reconstruct it again, the Siva temple was technically dismantled by the authorities. However, several news portals reported in 2019, that some ruins which are apparently with Buddhist origin were discovered and identified from the base of the current Siva temple.

2019 February 19: Silumina report - පොලොන්නරුව පුරාණ ශිව දේවාලයෙන් මතු වන .....
2019 March 9: Silumina report - ඉතිහාසයෙන් තැති නොගන්න පොලොන්නරුව ශිව දේවාලයෙන් .....
2019 March 24: Divaina report - පොළොන්නරුවේ ශිව කෝවිල යටින් බුදුගෙයක් මතුවෙයි; බුදුගෙය .....

Inscriptions
A short stone post with a record in 12 lines of Grantha-Tamil characters was discovered from the hall (Mandapam) of the Siva Devale No. 1 (Bell, 1907). It records that the stone was set up by Lanka Vijaya Senevirat, a Sinhalese General, by the orders of King Gajabahu II (1242-1264 A.D.) for some purpose not clear (Bell, 1907).

Another stone slab/seat containing a Sinhala inscription in five lines was found inside the Siva Devale No. 1 (Wickremasinghe,1928). It records that the seat was the one which Nissamkamalla used to occupy when performing the function of lustral bathing at the ceremony of propitiating the nine planetary gods (Wickremasinghe,1928).

Temple
Existence of a Hindu shrine alongside of main Buddhist edifices may signifies the religious tolerance exercised by the Sinhala Buddhist royalty. The Siva Devale No. 1 which was erroneously called the Dalada Maligaya (the Temple of Tooth Relic) by the local people, is located between the citadel and the Sacred Quadrangle. It was distinguished by H. C. P. Bell as Siva Devale No. 1 in his Sessional Paper No. V of 1911 (Arunachalam, 2004). Considering the location it situated, this temple may have been regarded at that time as an important shrine.

The shrine has been built with fitted granite blocks without any binding material between them. The outer wall has been decorated with nice carvings including figures of sages. The inner chamber without a roof houses the stone-cut Siva-linga, the main religious object of worship. A hoard of bronzes of Hindu deities and others have been discovered from this temple premises (Arunachalam, 2004; Wikramagamage, 2004).

The Siva-linga, Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1 Broken sculptures, Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 1 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 1

References
1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.1. 

2) Bell, H.C.P., 1907. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: North-Central, Northern and Central Provinces. Annual Report - 1907. p.37.
3) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.178-179. 
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.208.
5) 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.146-148.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 29 September 2019

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 2

Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2
The Siva Devale No. 2 (also known as Shiva Kovil No. 2) is one of Siva temples situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
The Anuradhapura Kingdom of Sri Lanka was invaded in 993 A.D. by the South Indian King Rajaraja I (985-1014 A.D.) and his son, King Rajendra Chola I (1014-1044 A.D.) completed the conquest in 1017 A.D. by taking the control of the country. They chose Polonnaruwa as their administrative center and ruled Sri Lanka from 1017 A.D. to 1070 A.D., until they were defeated and expelled by King Vijayabahu I (1055–1110 A.D.).

The impact of the Chola rule on Sri Lankan culture is clearly visible in the monumental and sculptural art of the Polonnaruwa period. During this period, the Cholas built temples in Polonnaruwa for the worship of Hindu deities such as Siva, Vishnu, Ganesha and Kali.

Siva Devale No. 2
The Siva Devale No. 2 is considered as the oldest Hindu shrine located in Polonnaruwa ancient city and was built by King Rajaraja I (Wikramagamage, 2004). According to a Tamil inscription found in situ, this Siva temple has been named after Vanavan Madevi (Vanavan Madevi Ishwaram), a consort of King Rajaraja I (Ray, 1960).

Inscriptions
Three inscriptions written in Grantha Tamil characters are found on the outer walls of the Devalaya (Arunachalam, 2004). The earliest of these inscriptions has been dated to the reign of Rajendra Chola I (Pathmanathan, 1987).

The longest inscription found in this temple is dated in the reign of Parakesarivarman alias Udaiyar Sri Adhirajendra Deva [(1070 A.D.) Arunachalam, 2004; Pathmanathan, 1987]. It records about an endowment (a lamp and five gold coins) made to the temple by a certain Chola Pallavaraiyan, a dignitary of high rank from Mankalappadi in Virpeddunadu (Pathmanathan, 1987). According to the inscription, the endowed lamp should be maintained from the interest on the money (five gold coins) deposited (Pathmanathan, 1987).

Temple
The temple is entirely built out of stones (mainly granite) and remains in a satisfactory state of preservation (Wikramagamage, 2004). Remaining architectural details indicate the same stage in their evolution as in South Indian temples from the Chola epoch (Ray, 1960).

The shrine mainly consists of two parts: the Garbha-gruha (the sanctum) and the vestibule. The vestibule which is facing to the east, gives the access to the Garbha-gruha. The stone-cut Siva-linga, the main religious object of worship is found erected in the Garbha-gruha (Wikramagamage, 2004). The roof is a octagonal shaped dome and end at a height of 31 ft 9 in. above the ground (Ray, 1960). The exterior walls of the shrine are decorated with ornate carvings and some of the stone slabs contain inscription written in Grantha Tamil characters. A broken figure of bull Nandi, the vehicle of God Siva is presently placed in front of the shrine building. Besides that, many Hindu sculptures have been found from this site.

Hindu religious rituals are performed here even at the present time (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Bronzes from Polonnaruwa Siva Devale Bronzes from Polonnaruwa Siva Devale Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2

References
1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.3-4.
2) Pathmanathan, S., 1987. Hinduism in Sri Lanka (Circa AD 1000-1250): Indian Influences on the Development of Saivism. p.53.
3) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.590.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.213.

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This page was last updated on 5 October 2019

Nilavarai Well and Archaeological Ruins

The Nilavarai Well
The Nilavarai Well is an old underground water well located in Navakkiri village in Puttur in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. This ancient well which has been identified as an archaeological monument is also known by the locals as the Nilawarai Bottomless Well.

The well is famous among the people as a water source which never dries up, not even during severe droughts. Presently, the water of this well is pumped out and used for irrigation purposes.

Well
The Jaffna peninsula is mainly underlain by hard, well dissolvable Lower Miocene Limestone (Mikunthan et al., 2013; Panabokke & Perera, 2005). Although the porosity of the Miocene Limestone is low, some macro-pores, channels and large cavities can be developed in this layer through dissolving of the limestone (Joshua et al., 2013). The water can accumulate in these pores, channels and cavities and serve as shallow aquifers. The water from precipitation percolates downwards through the soil and feed these aquifers and forms mounds or lenses of freshwater floating over the heavy seawater (saline water) that is already present in aquifers (Joshua et al., 2013; Mikunthan et al., 2013; Panabokke & Perera, 2005). When the top soil layer is collapsed due to some reason such as surface erosion, these limestone caverns are exposed as depressions at the surface like the well at Nilavarai. It has been found that the top water layer of the Nilavarai well contains freshwater and after some depth the salinity of the water increases towards the bottom of the well.

Folklore
According to Hindu mythology which are usually based on their traditional mystic emotions and religious literary works, the history of this place is related to Rama, a mythical figure presenting in the Indian epic Ramayanaya. Local people believe that this well was created by Rama when he stroke his arrow into the earth to provide water to refresh his men (Raghavan, 1971).

Another folklore says that there was an old Hindu shrine with an underground cave where saints meditated (Raghavan, 1971).

It is also believe that the well at Nilavarai has an underground connection with the springs of Keerimalai, a fresh water pool located about 11 km away from the Nilavarai well (Raghavan, 1971).

Archaeological significance
Existence of a Buddhist temple in close proximity of Nalavarai well is found mentioned in the travel records of Rev. Philippus Baldaeus (1632-1671 A.D.), a Dutch minister who was in Jaffna during the Dutch Period of Ceylon (Dias et al., 2016). The Buddhist temple mentioned by him is said to be existed in a village which was called as Budgamuwa during the ancient period (Dias et al., 2016). This temple at Budgamuwa had been renovated by King Vijayabahu (1055-1110 A.D.) who fought with Colas in 1053 (Dias et al., 2016).

Paul E. Peiris (1874-1955 A.D.), the District Judge for Jaffna in 1917, also mentions in his notes that in addition to this well there had been Buddhist ruins in the area (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014).

Nilavarai Buddha Statue
The Nilavarai WellA broken limestone statue of Buddha (only the portion from the waist above) was discovered by a cultivator about 250 yards (228.6 m) west of the Nilawarai well. The remaining portion of the statue is 3 ft 3.5 inches high while the head part is about 1 ft 2 inches in length. The nose had been partly damaged at the time of its discovery. The preserved portion indicate that the Mudra (gesture) of the original statue was Abhaya. Fragments of other portions together with some potsherds were also found buried about 2 feet deep in the earth. This statue was transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Jaffna by the then Archaeological Commissioner on 9 December 1952.

Besides the statue, the remains of a Stupa which is believed to be belonged to the 10th century A.D. were discovered near to the place where the statue of Nilavarai Buddha was found. Remains of a rectangular building were also identified at the same site.

The bottom
Local people identify this well as a bottomless well. However, the depth of the well was figured in 1895, by H. F. Tomalin by conducting some pumping and plumbing operations at the site.  From these operations, he figured the depth of this well as 145 feet (44.196 m) on the northern side, 120 feet (36.576 m) on the south side and 121 feet (36.88 m) on the western side (Raghavan, 1971).

On 15 August 2013, the Central Cultural Fund with a group of marine archaeologists carried out an expedition at Nilavarai well to find out the bottom of the well (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). During this expedition, they successfully discovered the bottom of the well and concluded it by recording the maximum depth of the well as 50 m [(164.04 feet) Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014]

The Sri Lanka Navy, who also conducted an expedition at the site with an automated robot found out the bottom of this well at a depth of 52.5 m (172.24 feet). During this expedition, several tunnels which are located at different levels and lead towards different directions were observed by them. They further found out that the first 18.3 m of the well contains fresh water and after that point the salinity of the water increases with the depth. Debris of three carts fallen into the well were also recorded during this expedition.

A protected site
The Nilawarai pond situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Nawakkiri bearing No. J-275 in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Kopai is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Attribution
1) Nilavarai, Jaffna by AntanO is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
2) M 9 by Kanatonian is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna Peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.198-199.
2) Joshua, W.D., Thushyanthy, M. and Nanthagoban, N., 2013. Seasonal variation of water table and groundwater quality of the karst aquifer of the Jaffna Peninsula-Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 41(1). pp.3-12.
3) Panabokke, C.R. and Perera, A.P.G.R.L., 2005. Groundwater resources of Sri Lanka. Water Resources Board, Colombo, Sri Lanka, p.3.
4) Raghavan, M.D., 1971. Tamil culture in Ceylon. Kalai Nilayam. pp.40-41.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.129.
6) Mikunthan, T.; Vithanage, M.; Pathmarajah, S.; Arasalingam, S.; Ariyaratne, R.; Manthrithilake, H. 2013. Hydrogeochemical characterization of Jaffna’s aquifer systems in Sri Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). pp.3-4.
7) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.118-120.

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This page was last updated on 28 September 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Gadaladeniya Viharaya

Vijayothpaya at Gadaladeniya Viharaya
Gadaladeniya Viharaya (also known as Sri Saddharmathilaka Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Gadaladeniya village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Gadaladeniya temple goes back to the 14th century. According to epigraphic sources, the Buddha shrine and Devalaya at Gadaladeniya was erected by the great monk Dharmakirti Sthavira during the reign of King Bhuwanekabahu IV [(1341-1351 A.D.) Abeywardana, 2004; Paranavitana, 1934].

The temple was repaired by King Parakramabahu VI [(1412-1467 A.D.) Seneviratna & Polk, 1992].

Several celebrated scholarly monks who have contributed to the literary development of the country, such as Dharmakirti II and Vimalakirti I, are said to be resided at Gadaladeniya temple (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). Presently, the temple is looked after by the pupillary succession of Ven. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Sangharaja Thera [(1698 - 1778 A.D.) Abeywardana, 2004].

Inscriptions
Several inscriptions have been found from the temple premises. Among them, two inscriptions are found inscribed on a slab-pillar erected near the entrance of the Buddha shrine. Another two is on the rock near the Bodhi-tree and five inscriptions are found on the rock plain near the steps of the south entrance gate of the temple (Paranavitana, 1934).

Gadaladeniya Slab-Pillar Inscription
This slab-pillar with inscriptions was found inside of the temple by Mr. H. C. P. Bell, the then Archaeological Commissioner (Codrington, 1934). It contains two inscriptions inscribed on its for surfaces. The first of the two, is a record of the fifth year of King Siri Sangabo Sri Jayavira Parakrama Bahu granting amnesty to Menawara Tunayan, nephew of the Apa Parakramabahu of Dodamwela and the people of the five countries (Codrington, 1934). The second inscription records that Menawara Tunayan, nephew of the Apa Parakramabahu of Dodamwela and all others were given the amnesty by King Siri Sangabo Sri Jayavira Parakrama Bahu (Codrington, 1934).

Five Rock Inscriptions near the South Entrance
Rock inscriptions at Gadaladeniya
I) This is a 15th century Sinhala inscription containing four lines. It mentions a king styled Sirisangabo Sri Parakramabahu Vikramabahu (Paranavitana, 1934).

II) This is also a 15th century Sinhala inscription containing five lines. It has been inscribed in the third year of Sirisangabo Sri Parakramabahu (Paranavitana, 1934).

III)  Gadaladeniya Inscription of Dharmakirti Sthavira  This is the earliest and lengthiest inscription (45 lines) at the site. Inscribed in the 3rd year of King Bhuwanekabahu IV, this inscription is considered important as it contains details about the history of Gadaladeniya Viharaya.

The inscription which has been written in modern Sinhala scripts is dated to 1344 A.D. It records about the construction of the Buddha shrine at Gadaladeniya by the great Thera Dharmakirti Sthavira of the Ganavasi school and a list of lands dedicated to it by various personages.

It further reveals that Sthavira Dharmakirti had constructed or repaired a two-storied image house at Sri Dhanyakataka (i.e. Amaravati) in India, before the construction of Gadaladeniya temple (Paranavitana, 1934). Senarath Paranavithana points out this fact as an example which showing the efforts made by Sri Lankan Buddhists of the fourteenth century to revive the Buddhism in South India (Paranavitana, 1934).

IV) Gadaladeniya Inscription of Senasammata Vikramabahu
This inscription has been inscribed in the eighth regnal year of King Senasammata Vikramabahu. It records a proclamation made by King Senasammata Vikramabahu, his son Yapa Bandara and other important persons to effect that no loss of life shall be happened in certain territories of the Kandyan Kingdom.

V)  This weathered inscription has been dated to 2054 of the Buddhist era (1511 A.D.). The name of the king mentioned in this epigraph is Jayavira (Codrington, 1934).

Architecture
The architecture of Gadaladeniya temple is similar to the contemporary Hindu shrines of South India in the early Vijayanagar style (Abeywardana, 2004; Paranavitana, 1934). According to the Gadaladeniya inscription of Dharmakirti Sthavira, the architecture of this temple was designed by a person named Ganeshvarachari who is believed to be an architect came from South India (Paranavitana, 1934).

Buddha shrine
The Gadaladeniya Buddha
The Buddha shrine is built entirely of sculptured granite, except at the Shikharas where the top is built of bricks (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). The shrine consists of a Garbha-gruha (a sanctum), an Antharalaya (a vestibule), a Devalaya and a porch. The Garbha-gruha is the most inner part of the shrine and it accommodates a large statue of seated Buddha who is in a pose of meditation under a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch). The Makara Thorana is decorated with images of gods such as Sakra, Brahma, Suyama, Santusita, Natha and Maitri (Seneviratna & Polk, 1992). 

The Devalaya is in a separate chamber which projects from the Antharalaya part. According to the inscription of Dharamakirti Sthavira, the Devalaya has been built for the protection of the Viharaya (Abeywardana, 2004). The deity who is being worshiped at the Devalaya is God Vishnu.

Vijayothpaya
The structure which consists of a central main Stupa surrounded by four other small-size Stupas is called as Vijayothpaya (or Vijayantha Prasada). As the Buddha shrine, the Vijayothpaya at Gadaladeniya temple is also believed to be constructed by Dharmakirti Sthavira (Rajapakse, 2016). 

The central Stupa has been built on a square-shaped elevated platform built of stone. It is covered by a four-sided roof supported by four pillars. The roof is built of timber and belonging to the Kandyan style. It is said to be added to the Vijayothpaya by King Parakramabahu V [(1344/1345 - 1359 A.D.) Rajapakse, 2016]. On the four sides of the central Stupa are four small Stupas built on platforms containing shrine rooms (de Thabrew, 2013). 

The chapter house, the Vahalkada, the Sinhasana Mandapaya, and the Dig-geya are among the other significant structures of Gadaladeniya temple (Rajapakse, 2016).

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine, Devalaya and rock inscriptions situated in Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara premises in Udunuwara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 11 May 1956.

Rock inscriptions near the Bodhi-tree, Gadaladeniya A Buddha statue in one of shrine rooms, Vijayothpaya The Buddha shrine under renovation, Gadaladeniya Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.74-75.
2) Codrington, H. W., 1934. The Gadaladeniya Inscription of Senasammata Vikrama Bahu. and The Gadaladeniya Slab-pillar inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon. Vol. IV. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. London. pp.8-15,16-27.
3) de Thabrew, W. V., 2013. Monuments and Temples of Orthodox Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka. Author House. p. 66.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1934. Gadaladeniya Rock Inscription of Dharmakirti Sthavira. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon. Vol. IV. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. London. pp.90-110.
5) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp. 58-60.
6) Seneviratna, A. and Polk, B., 1992. Buddhist monastic architecture in Sri Lanka: the woodland shrines. Abhinav Publications. p.82.
7) The government gazette notification. No: 10928. 11 May 1956.

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This page was last updated on 22 September 2019