Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BCE 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 BCE had been discovered in the excavations of 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 belives.

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 fascinating variety of attractons which have made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kiri Vehera, Lahugala

Kiri Vehera, Lahugala
Lahugala Kiri Vehera (also known as Kirivehera Viharaya) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Lahugala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple is believed to be dated back to the reign of King Dappula I [(661-664 C.E.) Withanachchi, 2013].

A protected site
Ancient Chaithya and ruins of Vihara complex in the territory of Kirivehera Viharaya, belonging to Lahugala village in Perani Lahugala PP 10 Grama Niladari Division in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notifications published on 10 October 2014.  
A Siri Pathula, Kirivehera Lahugala The newly built image house, Kirivehera Viharaya Lahugala
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.917.
2) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. p.25.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya

Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya
Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient cave temple located in the village of Pilikuttuwa in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Yakkala - Radawana road about 3.4 km distance from the Yakkala Junction. Pilikuththuwa temple is considered as the largest cave complex found in the area.

History
The history of Pilikuttuwa temple is expanded from the pre-historic period to the Kandyan period [(1469–1815) Jayarathne & Gunawardhana, 2017]. Archaeological evidences dating back to the pre-historic period have been found from several caves located in the site. Early Brahmi inscriptions found from some caves prove that this area was existing as a religious place since pre-Christian era. 
Pilikuttuwa cave inscription of Aggibhuti

Period        : 3rd century B.C.- 1st century A.D.
Scripts       : Early Brahmi
Language  : Old Sinhala
Transcript : Anikatasa batuno Agibutino dane
agata anagata chatudisa sagasa
Content : This inscription records that the cave
of Aggibhuti, the brother of Cavalry  officer  has
been   given  to   the  Sangha  of  four  quarters
present and absent.
Reference  : Paranavitana, 1970.
Pilikuttuwa cave inscription of Aggibjuti
The cave temples at Uruwala, Maligathenna, Warana, Miriswatta and Koskandawala which are situated in the vicinity of Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya are said to have formed one major cave site during the early Anuradhapura period (Anuradhapura period: 377 B.C.-1017 A.D.).

Folklore
According to the folklore, the caves of this temple have been used by King Valagamba (103 B.C. and c. 89–77 B.C.) during the time he was in hiding in order to organize troops against the South Indian invaders.

Temple complex
A large number of caves (about 99 caves) with or without drip-ledges have been identified in the temple premises. The small Stupa which is surrounded by a large drip-ledged cave has been build during the Kandyan period and had been sheltered with a roof. Other monuments such as the ancient cave temple with paintings of Kandyan period, three storied preaching hall, roads and the mould creeper (Pus Wela) with a perimeter of 6 feet (which is believed to be about 400 years old) have increased the historical value of the temple. 

The pond made with cairus of stones, under ground water canal, old wooden bridge and the ancient reservoir are also considered as important monuments found in the temple premises. The wooden bridge is belonged to the Kandyan period and has been constructed in the section connected to the pond of the ancient underground water system and the reservoir built across the temple premises.

A protected site
The ancient image house, all the caves, cave inscriptions, monks' dwelling houses, Stupa, Diggala, Dewala Lena, wooden bridge, pond and the Dharmasala (the preaching hall) within the premises of Pilikuththuwa Rajamaha Vihara situated in Grama Niladhari Division of Pilikuththuwa in the Divisional Secretary’s Division Mahara are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government gazette notifications published on 1 November 1996, 22 November 2002 and 7 July 2016.  
The Devalaya Lena, Pilikuttuwa Viharaya Kandyan era paintings and sculptures in the cave temple, Pilikuttuwa Viharaya
A Portuguese soldier like guardian image, Pilikuttuwa Viharaya The wooden bridge, Pilikuttuwa Viharaya
References
1) Jayarathne, H.A.S.N.; Gunawardhana, K.K.H.M., 2017. පිළිකුත්තුව රජමහා විහාරයේ සිතුවම්, සෙල්ලිපි හා ආවාස සම්ප්‍රදාය පිළිබඳ අධ්‍යයනයක් [A study on the paintings, inscriptions and dwelling tradition of Pilikuttuwa Raja Maha viharaya (In Sinhala)]. Undergraduates' Research Conference on Archaeology, Tourism and Cultural Resource Management (URCAT), Department of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya. p.35.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.86.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Extraordinary. No: 1974/16. 7 July 2016. p.5A.

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This page was last updated on 2 June 2019

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Nissanka Latha Mandapaya

Nissanka Latha Mandapaya
Nissanka Latha Mandapaya (lit: Nissanka Flower-trail hall) is a pillared pavilion found in the sacred quadrangle of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
According to several historical sources, this building was constructed by King Nissanka Malla [(1187-1196 A.D.) Coomaraswamy, 1927, Nicholas, 1963]. The portico slab-inscription of Hetadage and the Gal Potha inscription have confirmed that this building was known at the time as Nissanka Latha Mandapaya (Wikramasinghe, 1928). Historical sources further reveal that this is the place where King Nissanka Malla worshiped the Tooth Relic (Nicholas, 1963) or listened to the chanting of Pirith [(recital of Buddhist scriptures) Chaturawong, 2017].

Building
The pavilion contains eight curvilinear pillar (Coomaraswamy, 1927) and is surrounded by a wall known as the Buddhist-railing (Wikramagamage, 2004). The pillars are fixed on an elevated stone platform and arranged in two rows, with four in each row. These pillars are considered unusual and unique as they have been curved like a lotus stalk with a flower as the capital. Stone pillars similar to Nissanka Latha Mandapa are also found in a building located near to Satmahal Prasadaya.

The original building is thought to be covered with a roof. In the center of the building is a small rock cut Stupa of which the top has been truncated. Probably this had been used as a stand to receive the relic casket during Pirith chanting.
The stone Stupa in the center of the Mandapaya Pillars similar to Nissanka Latha Mandapaya are found in a building located near to Satmahal Prasadaya
References
1) Chaturawong, C., 2017. Mandapas of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand. In India-Thailand Cultural Interactions. Springer, Singapore. p.68.
2)  Coomaraswamy, A.K., 1927. History of Indian and Indonesian art. London. p.165.
3) Nicholas, C.W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval. Journal of the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New series, Vol. VI, Special number. Colombo. p.178.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.210.
5) Wikramasinghe, 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 Oxford University Press, Amen House, E.C. London. pp.84-90, 121.

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Meddepola Raja Maha Viharaya

Meddepola Raja Maha Viharaya
Veramune Sri Sundararama Viharaya, popularly known as Meddepola Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Meddepola village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Meddepola temple road about 2.2 km distance from the Giriulla town.

Name
"Muni Vehera" was the ancient name used to identify this temple. It was later converted to "Vehera Muni" and finally evolved to the present name "Veramune". As today, the temple is known by its common name, Meddepola Raja Maha Viharaya.

History
The origin of Meddepola temple is traced back to the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (307 - 267 B.C.). An inscription written with Brahmi letters is found below the drip-ledge of the main cave which houses the image house today. Another inscription is said to be found in a drip-ledged cave located south-western to the main cave (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).
Meddepola Inscription
Period : 3rd century B.C. - 1st century A.D.
Script  : Early Brahmi
Language    : Old Sinhala
Transcript   : Shumana data (te)rasha gahapa (..) shaha lene
Translation : Cave of the elder Sumanadatta and of householder ....sa.
Reference    : Wijesekara, 1990.
Thereafter, the temple was renovated and developed under the patronage of several kings such as Valagamba of Anuradhapura (103, 87-77 B.C.)  and Parakramabahu II of Dambadeniya (1234 - 1269 A.D.). 

The Culavamsa, an eighteenth century chronicle, mentions that King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1742-1782) had restored the Meddepola temple [Livingstone & Withers (eds.), 2011]. Also a copper plate grant issued by the king reveals about a donation of land from Malgamuwa village to Ginigathpitiye Deepankara Thera, the then incumbent of Meddepola Viharaya.

The works of the image house was completed in 1844, by Kadahapola Sangharakkhitha Sri Medhankara Thera (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The original paintings which adorn the inner walls of the image house have been done by the artists headed by Devaragampola Silvath Thena and are belonged to the Kandyan period (1469-1815 C.E.) However, most of the paintings remaining today are recent works belonged to two painters, Soliyas Mendis and S. J. S. Silva.

Preaching hall
Available historical sources reveal that the preaching hall of Meddepola temple had been constructed during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). 

This building bears typical architectural features belonging to the Kandyan period. Some of the modifications have been done to the building in 1992 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Antiquities
A large number of antiquities belonging to the temple can be seen conserved in a museum established at the temple premises. Many important objects, such as a gold statue donated by a king, silver and ivory statues, caskets, ola manuscripts, coins, ceramics from the Dutch period and clothes, such as Somanas are found preserved in the museum (Rambukwella, 2014).

A protected site
The drip-ledged cave temple with Brahmi letters, ancient Dhammasala (preaching hall), Pohoya Geya (Bhikkus disciplinary hall), Bhikkus residence (dwelling house), and drip-ledged caves belonging to the Weramune Sri Sunandarama Raja Maha Vihara premises situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Ihala Meddepola in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Pannala are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government gazette notifications published on 23 January 2009 and 24 July 2009.  
The cave temple, Meddepola Viharaya A Buddha statue in the cave temple, Meddepola Viharaya
A small Stupa, Meddepola Viharaya The chapter house, Meddepola Viharaya
References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.82-83.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  pp.75,89,105.
3) Livingstone, D.N. and Withers, C.W. eds., 2011. Geographies of nineteenth-century science. University of Chicago Press. p.126.
4) Rambukwella, M.W.C.N.K., 2014. Heritage representation in culturally diverse societies: a case study of the Colombo National Museum in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, School of Museum Studies). pp.362-363.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p.106.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1612. 24 July 2009. p.1023.
7) Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)], 1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions. p.45.

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This page was last updated on 17 August 2019

Koskandawala Raja Maha Viharaya

The Stupa of Koskandawala Raja Maha Viharaya
Koskandawala Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Koskandawala Sri Sunandarama Piriven Raja Maha Viharaya) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in the village of Koskandawala in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Yakkala - Radawana road about 2.8 km distance from the Yakkala Junction.

History
The history of this temple is believed to be dated back to the period of Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 B.C. - 1017 C.E.). The main rock cave which houses the image house today bears drip-ledges indicating that it may had been used by the monks as their abode. The cave temples at Uruwala, Maligathenna, Warana, Miriswatta and Pilikuththuwa which are situated in the vicinity of Koskandawala temple are said to have formed one major cave site during the early Anuradhapura period.

A protected site
The ancient image house and the Dharmasala (preaching hall) within the premises of Koskandawala Rajamaha Vihara situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. 308, Koskandawala in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Aththanagalla are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government Gazette notifications published on 1 November 1996 and 7 July 2016.  
A stone artifact, Koskandawala Viharaya The preaching hall, Koskandawala Viharaya
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Extraordinary. No: 1974/16. 7 July 2016. p.5A.

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This page was last updated on 2 June 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ata Seta Len

Ata Seta Len
Ata Seta Len (lit: Sixty eight caves) is a cave complex located in the ancient Buddhist monastery Mihintale.

History
The great chronicle Mahavamsa states that King Devanampiya Tissa (250-210 B.C.) had prepared 68 caves as dwellings for Bhikkhus headed by Arhant Mahinda Thera (Seneviratna, 1994). The early Brahmi cave inscriptions presenting below the drip-ledges of these caves confirm that the caves had been prepared for the use of the Buddhist monks during the pre-Christian era. 

The Mahavamsa further mentions that during the reign of King Kanirajanutissa (31-34 C.E.), 60 heretic monks who planned to kill the king were put to death by pushing them in to a chasm named "Kanira". It is believed that the mountain which form the Ata Seta Len complex could be that place mentioned in the Mahawamsa.

References
1) Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura: the monastic city. Archaeological Survey Department. p.236.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Nelligala International Buddhist Center

Nelligala International Buddhist Center
Nelligala International Buddhist Center is a modern Buddhist temple in Muruthalawa village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. Situated at the top of the Nelligala mountain, the site is popular among the visitors for its beautiful landscape

Construction of the Nelligala temple was started in 2015, under the guidance of Wathura Bubule Dhammarathna Thera.

Presently, the site is highly venerated by the Buddhist community in the region. It is said that the sacred relics of the Buddha and Arhants are enshrined at this temple.
Nelligala International Buddhist Center Nelligala International Buddhist Center
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This page was last updated on 11 May 2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription

Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription
Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription is one of Tamil inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is now exhibited in the Stone Gallery of the National Museum of Colombo. This inscription is considered important as it reveals some historical facts related to the Arya Cakravarttis of Jaffna.

Discovery
The slab was found from Kotagama Viharaya located near to Rambukkana in Kegalle District. It is said that it was brought to the temple from a high land named Koholan Godella close to the temple (Wijesuriya, 1990). The inscription was brought to Colombo Museum in 1892 by Mr. Bell (Wijesuriya, 1990).

Inscription
The inscription has been engraved on a stone slab of about 7 feet 7 inches long, 2 feet 8 inches broad and 7 inches thick (Wijesuriya, 1990). It consists of five lines and has been written in a form of poem. The epigraph is in Tamil language with the Tamil scripts of the mid-14th century C.E. (Pathmanathan, 2005).

The inscription gives no detail about the purpose of its establishment. As well as no any regal year has been indicated in the record. Depending on the palaeographical considerations and historical accounts, scholars such as S. Paranavitana have assigned this inscription to the mid-14th century C.E. (Paranavitana, 1960; Pathmanathan, 2005). The forms of the letters in this epigraph are said to be similar with those of the found in the Tamil rock inscription (engraved in 1344 C.E.) at Lankathilaka Viharaya in Kandy (Paranavitana, 1960; Pathmanathan, 2005). Also, several Sinhalese chronicles such as Rajavaliya and Nikaya Sangarahaya (written in 1369) provide some accounts about the activities of Arya Cakravarti in Gampola Kingdom during the 14th century.

Some authors have dated this inscription to the mid 15th century A.D. (Veluppillai, 1979) but other authors have disagreed with that assumption by pointing out the scarcity of the historical sources which record about a conquest of a Sinhalese king by the Arya Cakravarti during the 15th century.

Content
According to S. Paranavitana this is the only inscription which mentions about an Arya-cakravarti of Jaffna (Paranavitana, 1961). It records about a conquest of a Sinhalese king by the Arya Cakravarti but the name of the king who was defeated is not given in the record (Pathmanathan, 2005). However, the scholar John Siriman de Soyza have pointed out that this inscription can be seen as a defeat of a Tamil king and a victory of a Sinhalese king (Wijesuriya, 1990).

The interpretations for the Kotagama inscription by S. Pathmanathan (2005) are given below,
Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription
Period      : Mid-14th century C.E.
Language & Script  : Tamil
Transcript: (1)  Cetu  (2)  Kankanam  ver 
kanninaiyar kattinar 3) Kamar valaip .....>>
Translation : Setu.  The  young  women  of  the
king(s)  of  Anurai,  who  did  not  submit to the
Ariyan of  Cinkainakar  of  resounding  waters,
shed tears from the pairs of their lance-shaped
eyes  and   spread   their  fore-head   marks  on
their beautiful braceleted lotus-like hands.
Citation : Pathmanathan, S., 2005
Kotagama Tamil Slab Inscription
The first line of the inscription only contains one word "Setu". Setu is identified as a emblem of the kings of Arya Cakravartis who reigned in Jaffna (Rasanayagam, 1926). This word is found on all the coins issued by them (Rasanayagam, 1926; Pathmanathan, 2005). The Arya Cakravarti is mentioned in this record as Ariyan of Cinkainakar. The word Anurai is the abbreviation used to indicate Anuradhapura and then for any capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom (Codrington, 1929; Pathmanathan, 2005). 

References
1) Codrington, H.W., 1929. A short history of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services (1994). p.89.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1960. [Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief)]. Chapter II: Gampala and Raigama. History of Ceylon: Volume I: Part II. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. p.642.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1961. The Arya kingdom in north Ceylon. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. pp.174-224.
4) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp.69-74.
5) Rasanayagam, C., 1926. Ancient Jaffna: Being a Research Into the History of Jaffna from Very Early Times to the Portug [u] ese Period. Asian Educational Services (1984). p.364.
6) Veluppillai, A., 1979. Language Variations in Sri Lanka Tamil Inscriptions. Journal of Tamil Studies, 14. pp.65-83.
7) Wijesuriya, W., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section V: Inscriptions (1200-1600). Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions. pp.205-206.
 
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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Bambarakele Sri Maha Viharaya, Nuwara Eliya

Bambarakele Sri Maha Viharaya, Nuwara Eliya
Bambarakele Sri Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Nuwara Eliya - Kandy road about 2 km distance from the Nuwara Eliya main bus stand. This temple is considered to be the first Buddhist temple built in Nuwara Eliya (Abeywardana, 2004).

History
Sri Maha Viharaya was established in 1885 by Saddharmadhara Society under the guidance of Ven. Vidurupola Sri Ratanajoth Thera (Abeywardana, 2004). It is said that the then Governor of the region had employed spies to report him about the content of the first preaching delivered from this site (Abeywardana, 2004). Several other buildings, including the Stupa were added to the temple in 1905 (Abeywardana, 2004).

The temple received a high recognition within the country after Ven. Vidurupola Piyatissa Nayaka Thera, a famous scholar monk, assumed responsibilities as the chief incumbent of this temple (Abeywardana, 2004).

A protected site
Sri Maha Viharaya bearing assessment No 351/1 in Kandy road in the Administrative Limits of Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council in Nuwara Eliya Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.  
The bell tower, Bambarakele Viharaya The Bodhi and the Stupa, Bambarakele Viharaya
References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic Sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.220.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.127.

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Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya

The Kurahan grinding stone, Delgamuwa
Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a historic Buddhist temple located in the village of Delgamuwa in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. This temple has obtained a special place in the Sri Lankan history as it provided protection to the Tooth Relic of Buddha for over 40 years (Abhayawardhana, 2002).

History
After the death of King Bhuvanekabahu VII (1521–1551 C.E.) and the designation of Dharmapala as the successor, the political stability of the country became unstable with the activities of Portuguese. At the time, Hiripitiye Diyawadana Nilame was the noble person entrusted with the custody of the Tooth Relic (Pieris, 1920). In one night he experienced a strange dream in which he was warned about the security of the Tooth Relic. Distressed by the dream, he secretly moved the relic from Kotte to Sitawaka and presented it to King Mayadunna [(1521–1581 C.E.) Pieris, 1920]. In the purpose of further protection, the Tooth Relic was moved to Delgamuwa Viharaya where it was hidden in a Kurahan Gala (maize grinding stone). 

In 1560, Portuguese claimed to have captured the Tooth Relic and had brought it to Goa, India (Hocart, 1931). Dom Constantino de Braganza, a Portuguese viceroy who obtained the alleged Tooth Relic, had pounded the relic in a brazen mortar and threw into the sea (Hocart, 1931; Pieris, 1920). However, the Tooth Relic captured by the Portuguese was an imitation carried by Veediya Bandara (Pieris, 1920).

Konappu Bandara who recorded a successful victory over the Portuguese at Danthure, near Kandy in 1592 ascended the throne as King Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592–1604 C.E.). He brought the sacred Tooth Relic from Delgamuwa temple in Sabaragamuwa Province to safeguard it from the Portuguese army and placed the relic in a two-storied temple built in the neighborhood of the royal palace at Senkadagala [(present Kandy) Pieris, 1920; Seneviratna & Polk, 1992].

A protected site
The grinding stone which had used to conceal the Tooth Relic of Buddha, the ancient temple and the library of Delgamu Raja Maha Viharaya in the Kuruwita Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.  
A flower altar, Delgamuwa Viharaya The Stupa, Delgamuwa Viharaya
References
1) Abhayawardhana. H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.10.
2) Hocart, A.M. ed., 1931. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon IV: The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Messrs. Luzac & Co. pp.3-4.
3) Pieris, P.E., 1920. Ceylon and the Portuguese, 1505-1658. American Mission Ceylon Press. Telippalai. pp.76, 86, 142.
4) Seneviratna, A. and Polk, B., 1992. Buddhist monastic architecture in Sri Lanka: the woodland shrines. Abhinav Publications. p.133.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Balapokuna Raja Maha Viharaya

Balapokuna Raja Maha Viharaya
Balapokuna Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Pamankada in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

Pond
Balapokuna pond
Balapokuna is a small natural pond located in the premises of Balapokuna temple. According to the historical sources, the history of this pond is dated back to the period of Kotte Kingdom (1412–1597 C.E.). The pond was originally known as Bata-pokuna [giving meaning of "the pond of soldier(s)"]  and the word Bata later evolved to the present name Bala-pokuna.

During the reign of King Parakramabhu VI (1411-1466 C.E.) the water of this pond is said to had been used by the king's soldiers. As it is possible to see a vast area of the Kotte Kingdom, the high spot located next to the pond is believed to be used as a look out point by the soldiers who had been appointed as sentries. Presently, this area is known as Balahenmulla, the name has been derived from the Sinhalese equivalent of garrison. Therefore it is assumed that this area could be a "Forward defense line" of Kotte Kingdom.

Popular legend
According to local folklore, the pond located in Balapokuna temple is one exit point to an ancient underground tunnel which runs from Kotte. Two other points which had been connected to this tunnel are said to be located at Ambalama (wayside rest) in Ethul Kotte and at the premises of Ananda Shastralaya College in Kotte.

A protected monument
The ancient pond of Pamankada Balapokuna Viharaya in the Grama Niladhari Division of Pamankade East, in the Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.  
The image house and the bell tower, Balapokuna Viharaya The Stupa, Balapokuna Viharaya
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park
Pigeon Island National Park is one of the three marine national parks in Sri Lanka (Perera & Kotagama, 2016). The island is located about 2.2 km off shore of the Nilaweli beach in Trincomalee District. It is the 17th national park in the country.

Name
The island's name derives from the wild rock pigeon (Columba livia) which has colonized it (Katupotha & Senevirathna, 2017).

Island
The pigeon island national park consists of two small islands; large pigeon island and small pigeon island (Rajasuriya et al, 2005). The large island has two small beaches located in the south-western and northern flank of the island (Rajasuriya et al, 2005). The main coral reef which is about 200 m long, 100 m wide is found in front of the south-western beach. This coral reef is extended in a depth of 1 to 6 m and dominated by branching and tabulate Acropora species (Rajasuriya et al, 2005). The small island is surrounded by rocky islets. Faviidae, Mussidae and Portidae species are found in the coral reef around the rocky islets (Rajasuriya et al, 2005). Areas with soft corals such as Sinularia, Lobophytum and Sacrophyton are also identified. The total area of the park is about 471 hectares (Katupotha & Senevirathna, 2017; Perera & Kotagama, 2016).

Flora & Fauna
A large number of coral species (over 100 species) and coral reef fishes (over 222 specie) have been recorded around this national park (Perera & Kotagama, 2016). Juvenile and adult Black tip reef sharks, Hawk bill, Green and Olive ridley turtles are some of the marine animals found around the shallow coral areas. The island is also an important breeding and nesting ground for rock pigeons.

A protected site
During the colonial era, the island is said to be used as a shooting range (Katupotha & Senevirathna, 2017). In 1963, the island was designated as a sanctuary for the purpose of protecting birds (Rajasuriya et al, 2005). In 2003, the island and the surrounding area within a one mile radius, including its coral reefs, were re-designated as a National Park under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (The Gazette, no: 1291/16). Today, this national park is governed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Pigeon Island National Park Pigeon Island National Park
Pigeon Island National Park Pigeon Island National Park
Attribution
1) Sri Lanka-Trincomalee-Pigeon Island by Dschen Reinecke is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Katupotha, K.N.J. and Senevirathna, C., 2017. Geomorphology of the Pigeon Island National Park, Sri Lanka. National Research Symposium - Sharing Knowledge for a sustainable management of Pigeon Island National Park.
2) Perera, N.; Kotagama, S.W., 2016. Recommendations for co-existence of coral reef conservation and tourism at Pigeon Island National Park. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment, 6(1). pp.20-35.
3) Rajasuriya, A., Perera, N. and Fernando, M., 2005. Status of coral reefs in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. Coral reef degradation in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO): status report 2005, pp.97-103.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Extraordinary, no: 1291/16. 4 June 2003. p.546.

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Dambadeniya Sri Vijayasundararama Viharaya

Dambadeniya Sri Vijayasundararama Viharaya
Dambadeniya Sri Vijayasundararama Viharaya (or Dambadeniya Vijayasundararamaya) is a Buddhist temple located in the ancient city of Dambadeniya in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Giriulla-Narammala road about 5 km distance from Giriulla town.

History
Struggles on power between the last rulers of Polonnaruwa made the country's political environment into an unstable state. Magha (1215–1236) of Kalinga (India) who came with a large army from Malabar (Kerala) easily invaded Sri Lanka during this period. As a result of the invasion, Polonnaruwa Kingdom was collapsed and Dambadeniya became the new and third kingdom of the country (Sudharmawathie, 2008). 

King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236) made Dambadeniya (Jambuddoni) as the capital city of the country in order to safeguard of Buddhism, kingdom and its people. He built Vijayasundararama Viharaya as the main temple of the kingdom and started an academy similar to Maha Viharaya and Abhayagiriya in Anuradhapura. He also adopted the first Dambadeniya Kathikawatha (Dambadeniya edicts) at this temple with the presence of Gramavasi (village dwelling) and Aranyawasi (forest dwelling) Bhikkus.

The Tooth Relic performed a miracleThe next ruler, King Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 C.E.) had constructed two temples for the sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha on the summit of the rock palace and in the premises of Vijayasundararama temple. The temple built at the rock palace was the permanent house for the Tooth Relic and the other at Vijayasundararamaya was used mainly for the relic expositions (Seneviratna, 1987). He continuously made offerings to the relic at Vijayasundararama Viharaya and engaged in many meritorious deeds. It is said that, as a wish of the king, the Tooth Relic performed a miracle for seven and half hours by creating an image of Buddha walking in the sky (Holt, 2011) between the temple of tooth and the tree called Sapu Bodhiya. This tree can be seen today at the temple premises, located near to the temple of tooth building.

The temple of tooth built in Vijayasundararama Viharaya was initially a three storeyed building but later it was renovated during the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1780 C.E.) by Meegasthenne Adikaram, the chief ruler of Sath-Korale (Seneviratna, 1987). He renovated this building as a two storey mansion (Seneviratna, 1987).
The two storeyed temple of tooth building Entrance to the ground floor image house
Temple
The temple of tooth building at Dambadeniya Vijayasundararamaya is considered to be the oldest (best conserved) such kind of building found in Sri Lanka. It has been built on a raised platform made of stone and the building is today used as an image house. The both lower and upper floors contain statues of Buddha and other sculptures and paintings belonging to several periods. The lower image house is encircled with a circumambulatory path of about 3 feet wide. Two stone slabs known as Veeragal are found at the entrance to the ground floor. These slabs are considered strange as they contain few figures related with Hindu tradition. The ground floor is connected to the upper storey through a wooden stairway. The upper floor was initially used to deposit the Tooth Relic of Buddha but after the removal of the relic from Dambadeniya, the upper floor became a shrine room of Buddha.

The Stupa of the temple has been built on an ancient platform which was once used to exhibit the Tooth Relic of Buddha. The roof over the Stupa is sustained by several granite pillars. At the sides of the entrance to the Stupa house are two Korawak Gal (balustrades) carved with elephants.

A protected site
The ancient image house at the premises of Dambadeniya Vijayasundararama Raja Maha Viharaya in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Narammala is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 March 1962. 
This stone table is believed to be used to exhibit the Tooth Relic The Stupaghara
Ancient buildings, Dambadeniya Vijayasundararama Viharaya Outer wall paintings
References
1) Holt, J. (Editor), 2011. The Sri Lanka reader: history, culture, politics. Duke University Press. pp.105-106.
2) Seneviratna, A., 1987. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic: An Architectural History of the Daḷadā Māligāwa, the Symbol of Buddhist Faith and Sovereignty in Sri Lanka. Government of Sri Lanka. p.59.
3) Sudharmawathie, J.M., 2008. Historical significance of the kingdom of Dambadeniya, Proceedings of the Annual Research Symposium 2008, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Kelaniya. p.105.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 12977. 9 March 1962.

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