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, March 31, 2019

Katu Seya

Katu Seya, Mihintale
Katu Seya is an old Stupa located in the ancient monastery complex of Mihintale, Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

History
It is believed that the smithy implements and the tools used in construction work of Mihintale complex have been enshrined in this Stupa. According to the remaining architectural features, it has been found out that this was a Stupa centered monastic complex belonged to the Mahayana tradition of Anuradhapura period.

During the excavations carried out in the early 19th century, several copper plates containing the inscriptions of Mahayana Sutra verses in Sanskrit and Sinhalese were found from the site. Those inscriptions are believed to be written during the 8th-9th centuries C.E.

Attribution
1) Katu seya Mihintalaya by L Manju is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

References
1) The information board at the site.

Location Map

Keerimalai Pond

Keerimalai Pond
Keerimalai Pond (Mongoose-hill Pond or Mugati Kanda Pokuna) is a popular bathing pond located in close proximity to the Keerimalai beach in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Pond
Keerimalai Pond
Many fresh water springs are found mainly along the coast of the Jaffna peninsula and Keerimalai is one of such fresh water springs. According to the Hindu beliefs which are usually based on their traditional mystic emotions and religious literary works, the fresh water spring at Keeramalai is a holy place endowed with miraculous powers. It is believed by Hindus that bathing of the fresh water of this spring can cure the various skin infections and induce childless women to achieve pregnancy (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014).

There is another belief that the springs of Keerimalai have an underground connection with the bottomless well at Nilavarai, a fresh water well located about 11 km away from the Keerimalai pond (Raghavan, 1971).

Legends
According to a legend, the face of a priest called Yamadakkini Muni was become a Mongoose face as a result of a curse chanted by God Siva (Wijebandara, 2014). To cure the deformed face, the priest came to Sri Lanka and bathed in this pond. It is said that after getting the bath and doing the rituals at the Siva temple, he got his human face again (Wijebandara, 2014).

In the 7th century, a Chola princes named Mathurapuraveeravalli (or Marutappiravikavalli), the daughter of Tisai Yukkira Colam, the King of Madurai, was endowed with a horse face (Ananthanathan, 1993; David, 2011). By hearing about the healing properties of the spring at Keerimalai in Jaffna peninsula, she came to Sri Lanka and bathed in the fresh water spring. After bathing in the Keeramalai spring, Mathurapuraveeravalli's face became human and beautiful (David, 2011).

Keerimalai Pond Keerimalai Pond
Attribution
1) Keerimalai Pond, Jaffna by AntanO is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

References
1) Ananthanathan, A.K., 1993. Temple, religion and society. East and West, 43(1/4), pp.155-168.
2)  David, K. ed., 2011. The new wind: Changing identities in South Asia. Walter de Gruyter. p.185.
3) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.50, 203.
4) Raghavan, M.D., 1971. Tamil culture in Ceylon. Kalai Nilayam. p.40.
5) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.129-130.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 September 2019

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sangilian Thoppu

Sangilian Thoppu
Sangilian Thoppu/Sangiliyan Thoppu (also called Sangilian Facade, Cankilian Thoppu or Poothathamby Walaivu) is an old arch found in Nallur in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. The arch is located on the Jaffna-Point Pedro road, about 950 m distance from Nallur Kandasamy Temple.

History
Mainly there are two opinions regarding the origin of this monument. As this monument is named after King Sangili/Sangilian (1619 C.E.), some believe that this arch could be a part of his palace (Dias et al., 2016). King Sangili is considered as the last king of the Jaffna Kingdom.

According to the other opinion suggested by some authors such as Dr. Kunarasa, this arch was a part of the headquarter of Poothathamby Mudaliyar, a Tamil administrator who lived during the Dutch period (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). The arch is also known as Poothathamby Walaivu (arch) by the locals (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014).

Facade
The monument is in well preserved state. It has been made of brick and plastered with lime mortar (Dias et al., 2016). Presently a shelter has been erected over the facade.

A protected monument
The entrance of Sangili Thoppu Palace belonging to the village of Nallur in the Grama Niladhari Division of Sangiliyan Thoppu bearing No. J-109 in the Divisional Secretariat Division, Nallur is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 23 February 2007. 

Attribution
1) Cankili Thoppu by AntanO is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. p.208.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.129.
3) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.112-114.

Location Map

Sri Saddharmagupta Piriven Viharaya, Dombawala

Sri Saddharmagupta Piriven Viharaya
Sri Saddharmagupta Piriven Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Dombawala in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. The temple can be reached by traveling along the Udugampola-Divulapitiya road about 700 m distance from the Udugampola roundabout. 

The old library building of this temple is considered important and was conserved in 2010, by the Archaeological Department. It holds a large number of valuable Ola-leaf manuscripts and about 175 of them were indexed by the Archaeological Department during the period of 2014-2015. 
The Stupa, Sri Saddharmagupta Piriven Viharaya The bell tower, Sri Saddharmagupta Piriven Viharaya
Location Map

Nachchaduwa Wewa

Nachchaduwa Wewa
Nachchaduwa Wewa (Naccaduwa) is a reservoir situated in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and is owned by the Department of Irrigation. The reservoir is considered as one of the earliest irrigation works in the country. 

History
According to tradition, Nachchaduwa Wewa was constructed by King Mahasena [(277-304 C.E.) Parker, 1909 ]. 

H. Parker in his book "Ancient Ceylon (1909)" mentions that the bricks which have been used to construct the tank sluice are in same dimensions as those of some bricks used in the repairs of the high-level sluice at Nuwara Wewa. Therefore, he points out that the work at both reservoirs could be done at about the same time. He further mentions that the bricks used to build the upper part of the Bisokotuwa are belonged to a later period, probably a time little earlier to the 12th century (Parker, 1909). Also the large rectangular wedge holes found in some stones of the waste-weir, according to Parker, probably have come from the restoration work carried out by King Parakramabahu I (Parker, 1909). Therefore, depending on these facts he suggests that Nachchaduwa tank might be the Mahadaragalla tank made by King Mahasena.

The great chronicle, Mahawamsa mentions about a tank named Nandivapi with an account related with young Dhatusena II (Fernando, 1921). It is said that the most closer name which can be suggested for Nandivapi is the Nachchaduwa tank. In Pali language, the meaning of both Nandi and Nachcha is nearly similar to each other: Nandi - 'plesure' and Nachcha - 'dancing' (Fernando, 1921).

The bricks of several ruins located around the Nachchaduwa tank are said to be similar in size to some bricks found in ancient irrigation works such as Tisa Wewa, Nuwara Wewa, Sigiriya etc. (Fernando, 1921). Therefore, it is strongly believe that this tank is also an earliest irrigation work in the country.

Reservoir
The reservoir is fed by the Malwathu Oya and the feeder canal from Kala Wewa. It has an irrigable area of 2833 ha and a catchment area of 598.74 square km (Dahanayake & Rajapakse, 2017).

Attribution
1) Nachchaduwa Wewa by hassage is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) Dahanayake, A.C. and Rajapakse, R.L.H.L., 2017. Application of a process-based, distributed, hydrological and material transport model to assess water resources and pollute transport in Malwathu oya basin, Sri Lanka. The 7th International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment, Earl’s Regency Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
2) Fernando, W.M., 1921. Naccaduwa Tank. The Ceylon antiquary and literary register. Vol. VI: Part. IV. p.229.
3) Parker, H., 1909. Ancient Ceylon: An account of the aborigines and of part of the early civilisation. Luzac & Co. London. pp.405-409.

Location Map

Thursday, March 28, 2019

National Museum of Ratnapura

National Museum of Ratnapura, Sri Lanka is one of museums administered by the Department of National Museums. It has been established in an old mansion building known as Ehelepola Walawwa.

Archaeological discoveries of pre-historic period, specimens of natural heritage, artifacts and models of geological, anthropological, zoological related to Sabaragamuwa Province are mainly exhibited in this museum (Abeyawardana, 2002; Embuldeniya & Karunarathna, 2019).

History
The building which houses the present museum was built during the period of 1811-1814, by Ehelepola Wijesundara Wikramasinghe Chandrasekara Senevirathna Amarakoon Wasala Panditha Mudiyanse (Ehelepola Maha Nilame), the then Maha Adikaram and District Agent (Disawe) of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 C.E.).

Ehelepola Maha Nilame (1773 - 1829) is considered as a powerful leader emerged during the final phase of Kandyan Kingdom. He was born to a Sinhalese Buddhist family lived in Ehelepola village in Matale District. During this period, the country was ruling by a Nayakkar ruler, King Sri Vikrama Rajasingha. Therefore, Ehelepola wanted to establish a Sinhalese Buddhist Kingdom in the country again instead of Nayakkars by capturing Sri Vikrama Rajasingha with the help of British rulers. That attempt was failed but, under the British rule he was said to be living as an unofficial king in the country until the year of 1818. In 1818, the great rebellion of Uva was started by Sinhalese against the British rulers as the violation of conditions in Udarata Givisuma/Kandyan convention (an agreement signed on 10 March 1815 between the British and the Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom). Ehelepola was majorly suspected for making this rebellion and therefore he was house arrested by the British rulers for 7 years and finally exiled (in 1825) to Pamplemousses in Mauritius island. Ehelepola died on 5 April 1829, and his final rituals were done accordance to the Buddhist tradition.

The building was later used as the official residence of the British government agents of the Sabaragamuwa Province (Abeyawardana, 2002).

In 1942, the National Museums Ordinance was passed. As a result of that, in 1946, the Ehelepola Walawwa building became one of the national museums in the country (Rambukwella, 2014).

Building
The building has been constructed in accordance to the Dutch architecture. In front of the building is a big veranda designed with brick pillars and wooden carvings. The main hall of the inner house has been divided into two rows and each side contains three rooms. However, some alterations have been added to the building later. Totally four store rooms are found in the house. The roof is constructed using the Sinhala Ulu. There are indications that the entire land was surrounded by a big canal.

A protected monument
The Ehelepola Walawwa located in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Ratnapura is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 3 September 1993.

References
1) Abeyawardana, 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. pp.14-15.
2) Embuldeniya, P., Karunarathna, K.G.M., 2019. Significance of developing museums in Sri Lanka as tourist attractions: with special reference to national museums. EPRA International Journal of Research and Development. Vol. IV. Issue 2. pp.14-21.
3) 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). p.131.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1096. 3 September 1993.

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This page was last updated on 23 August 2019

Sunday, March 24, 2019

National Museum of Kandy

Ivory images, Kandy National Museum
National Museum of Kandy, Sri Lanka is one of museums administered by the Department of National Museums. Presently, the museum has a large collection of artifacts (approximately 4000 items) mainly representing the subject areas of history and ethnology of Kandyan period (1592-1815 C.E.).

History
The museum has been established in an old building called as Palle Vahala (Embuldeniya & Karunarathna, 2019). During the reign of King Sri Vickrama Rajasingha (1798 -1815 C.E.) this building was used as the quarters of the royal queens (Embuldeniya & Karunarathna, 2019; Rajapakse, 2016).

Museum
The first collection of artifacts deposited in Kandy museum was belonged to Mr. John Andy Dickson, the Government Agent for Kandy who served for the British government in 1832. He had a large number of antiques mainly collected from Kandy and Matale Districts in his residence and most of them were artifacts belonging to the subject of ethnology. On retirement, he had donated this collection of artifacts to the Kandyan Art Association. The re-donation of these artifacts by the Kandyan Art Association became the basis of the establishment of the present Kandy Museum. 

The museum was declared opened to the public on 27 August 1942, by a Gazette notification published under the Gazette No. 11.20.97.37. 

Museum building
The building has been built according to the architectural traditions of Kandyan period (Embuldeniya & Karunarathna, 2019). The attractive large roof, center courtyard and windows, the stone paved floor, lime-plastered walls and large door ways can be identified as the main architectural features of this building.

Replica of the crown of King Rajasinghe II Crown of King Rajasinghe II (replica)

The original crown of King Rajasinghe II (1629-1687 C.E.) was exhibiting in this museum since its establishment, but the crown was stolen in 1961. 

This replica was made akin, out of copper and gold gilt in 1972, on the order of Mr. Willium Gopallawa, the then president of Sri Lanka. Several parts belonging to the original crown have also been added to this replica.
Colour paintings on wooen planks, Kandy National Museum Standing Buddha image, Kandy National Museum
References
1) Embuldeniya, P., Karunarathna, K.G.M., 2019. Significance of developing museums in Sri Lanka as tourist attractions: with special reference to national museums. EPRA International Journal of Research and Development. Vol. IV. Issue 2. pp.14-21.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. p.39.
3) The notice board at the museum.

Location Map

Dighavapi Viharaya

Dighavapi Viharaya
Dighavapi Viharaya (or Deeghavapi Raja Maha Viharaya) is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. 

The colossal Stupa of Dighavapi temple is believed to be built to mark the spot where Buddha seated himself on the occasion of his third and last visit to Sri Lanka (Parker, 1981). Therefore the site is one of the 16 most sacred places (Solosmastana) of the Buddhists of the country.

Legends
According to the Great Chronicle, Mahawamsa, the Buddha on his third visit to Sri Lanka had come to Dighavapi after spending the day at the foot of Sumanakuta (present Sri Pada mountain). Dipavamsa, the oldest chronicle of Sri Lanka also mentions that the Buddha visit Dighavapi after arriving in Kalyani [(present Kelaniya) Nicholas, 1963].

History
Ancient Dighavapi Stupa
The name Dighavapi (lit: Long tank) is found in several early historical records. Pali chronicles and commentaries record this area as Dighavapi-mandala or Dighavapi-rattha (Nicholas, 1963). In Sinhalese literature and inscriptions, the area called as Digamandulu or Digamadulla (Nicholas, 1963).

Chronicles record that King Kakavanna Tissa of Rohana [or Kavan Tissa (205-161 B.C.)] stationed his second son, Prince Tissa, at Dighavapi with troops in order to guard the open country from Elara (205-161 B.C.), a South Indian invader who was at the time ruling in the Anuradhapura Kingdom (Nicholas, 1963). After, Elara was overthrown by Prince Dutthagamani Abhaya [Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.)], the Dighavapi area was again given to Prince Tissa to direct the work of harvest. Prince Tissa remained at there for 23 years until the death of his brother King Dutugemunu (Nicholas, 1963). During this period, the two sons of Prince Tissa had built Buddhist temples in the surrounding area: the eldest son, Lanjatissa built the Kumbhila or Girikumbhila Vihara (modern Rajagala) and the younger son, Thulaththana built the Kandara Vihara (also known as Alakandara or Lokandara Vihara). After the death of King Dutugemunu, Prince Tissa ascended the throne as King Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.) in 137 B.C.. He built the Stupa of Dighavapi and made several valuable offerings to it (Nicholas, 1963; Parker, 1981).

The Dighavapi Stupa is called in the Sinhalese chronicles as Dighanakha or Diganaka (Nicholas, 1963; Withanachchi, 2013). However, there are no further records about this Stupa in the chronicles (Parker, 1981) until the 18th century (Nicholas, 1963). In the middle of the 18th century, King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782 C.E.) had visit a Stupa called Nakha Cetiya but its relation with the Dighavapi (Dighanaka) Stupa is unclear. However, the area was locally known as Nakha Vehera prior to its re-occupation by the Sangha about 1924 (Nicholas, 1963).

Dighavapi gold leaf inscription

    Dighavapi Golg Leaf Inscription of King Kanittha Tissa (165-193 C.E.)

    Transcript :  Sidha:  Naka  maharajhaha  puta Malutisa rajhaha sovana tube
    Translation : Hail: The gold stupa (reliquary) of King Malutisa (Kanittha Tissa), the son of the great king Naka [Mahallaka Naga (135-141 C.E.)].
    Reference: Sirisoma, 1991. p. 222.
In 1986, a gold-leaf inscription was discovered deposited inside a reliquary recovered from the western frontispiece (Vahalkada) of Dighavapi Stupa (Sirisoma, 1991). The reliquary was found along with two other gold reliquaries and all of them were in a stone casket embedded in the aforesaid frontispiece.

The inscription contains only one line and has been written in the scripts belonging to the 2nd century C.E. (Sirisoma, 1991).

Ruins
Dighavapi is identified as a large monastic complex existed during the period of Rohana Principality (Withanachchi, 2013). Ruins of that ancient monastery are found today scattered nearly 1/2 miles distance from the boundary of Dighavapi Stupa (Withanachchi, 2013).

From the excavations, it has been identified that the Dighavapi Stupa had been constructed with two rampart walls (Withanachchi, 2013). Remains of Vahalkada are also visible at the site.

A protected site
The Dighavapi Dagoba and all the ruins found in the land reserved for the Dighavapi Viharaya in the village of Dighavapiya in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Addalachchanai are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government Gazette notifications published on 18 April 1947 and 31 December 1999.
 
Ancient sculptures, Dighavapi Ruins to be unearthed Ruins to be excavated Stone sculptures
References
1) Nicholas C. W., 1963. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch), pp.24-27.
2) Parker, H., 1981. Ancient Ceylon (Vol. 41). Asian educational services. p.318
3) Sirisoma, M.H. (Edited by Uduwara, J.), 1991. No.43. Dighavapi gold leaf inscription of King Kanittha Tissa (164-192 A.D.). Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Sri Lanka: Vol. VI: Part: 2. Archaeology Survey of Ceylon. pp. 221-223.
4) The Gazette of Ceylon, no: 9692. 18 April 1947.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 2106. 31 December 1999.
6) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.17-18.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 5 October 2019

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dambulla Somawathi Stupa and Archaeological Ruins

Dambulla Somawathi Stupa
The ancient Buddhist monastery complex which is popularly known as Dambulla Somawathi Stupa is located in Matale District, Sri Lanka. The site is situated west to the world famous rock cave temple, Dambulla Raja Maha Viharaya.

Ruins of a Bodhighara, Dambulla Somawathi Ancient Sandakada Pahana and Korawak Gala, Dambulla Somawathi
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This page was last updated on 6 July 2019

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Neelagiriseya

Neelagiriseya
Neelagiriseya (Neelagiriya Maha Seya or Neelagiri Dagoba) is an ancient Stupa located in the woods of the Lahugala National Park in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
Archaeological evidences have confirmed that Neelagiriseya had been in existence from the 2nd century B.C.. Although the origin of this temple is not clearly known, there are several views about its establishment. According to one of such view, this is the Pasanadiptha Viharaya built by King Mahadathika Mahanaga [(9-21 C.E.) Withanachchi, 2013]. However, some authors believe that this is a work of King Suratissa [(247-237 B.C.) Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013].

Few scholars such as Rev. Handupelpola Punnyarathana, hold the view that this Stupa could be the Mahanuggala Stupa built by King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.), as mentioned in the great chronicle, Mahawamsa (Somadeva, 2011). Rev. Ellawala Medhananda has quoted the same opinion in his book 'Pācīna passauttara passa, nägenahira paḷāta hā uturu palātē Siṃhala bauddha urumaya' (Medhananda, 2003; Somadeva, 2011).  If it is true, this is the temple where King Kavantissa had made the ten giants swear never to pick sides in a war between his two sons, Gemunu and Tissa (Medhananda, 2003).

According to an inscription belonging to the reign of King Mahasen (277-304 A.D.), this institute had been called at the time as Kulabariya Maha Vehera (Withanachchi, 2013). That inscription records about a donation of Kahawanu to the aforesaid temple for the ceremonies named Ariyawamsa (Withanachchi, 2013).

Excavation, 2011
During the excavations done in 2011, archeologists found two inscriptions within the monastery premises (Somadeva, 2011). The older of the two is belonged to the reign of King Bhatikatissa (22 B.C.-7 C.E.). It records about a decree proclaimed by a Queen named Chula Seeval Devi, a daughter of King Bhatikatissa (Somadeva, 2011). The inscription, however, has been erected during the period of Bhatikatissa when he was a viceroy (Uparaja) in Ruhuna. Therefore, according to Somadeva, one can assign this inscription to the period of King Kutakannabhaya (44-22 B.C.), the predecessor of King Bhatikatissa (Somadeva, 2011).

The second inscription also records about a decree announced by a King named Jetthatissa. Here the king's name, according to Somadeva, could be either King Jettatissa I (263-273 C.E.) or Jettatissa II [(328-337 C.E.) Somadeva, 2011]. However, the paleography of this inscription is said to be more related to the reign of King Jettatissa I (Somadeva, 2011).

Here, the both inscriptions refer to a monastery named Uttara Seevali Pabbatha Vihara as a recipient institution of the above proclaimed donations (Somadeva, 2011).

Stupa
Neelagiriseya
From the archaeological evidences found so far, this structure had been constructed during the pre-Christian era. The layer of stone which makes the Stupa pavement is said to be belonged to the 7th century C.E.. The Yupa stone and the basal rings are made of stone and bricks.

Presently, the Stupa is 73 feet (22.25 m) in height and has a circumference of 629 feet [(191.71 m) Withanachchi, 2013]. However, according to the studies, the height of present Neelagiri Stupa is not complementary with the size of  the circumference of its base and represents only about one third of its complete/original height (Wijerathna et al., 2019; Withanachchi, 2013).

Restoration
The restoration work of Neelagiri Stupa was started in 1960 but it became unsuccessful due to the terrorist activities of LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) around the Lahugala region. The Stupa was opened only after 2010 and restoration work was begun again in 2011 (Wijerathna et al., 2019). During the excavations, small Stupas with bubble shape and paddy-heap shape were found from the site (Wijerathna et al., 2019).

A protected site
Neelagiri Dagaba and the adjoining premises with buildings with stone pillars in inscriptions and sites with archaeological ruins, cave complex with cave inscriptions and pre-historical arts situated in Perani Lahugala PP 10 Grama Niladari Division in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 10 October 2014

The Stupa Ruins to be excavated
References
1) Medhananda, Ven. 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.115-119.
2) Somadeva, R., 2011. The Archaeological Survey in Neelagiri seya Area in Lahugala of Ampara District : Neelagiriseya Survey: The interim report. Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology. pp.1-23.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.917. 
4) Wijerathna, W.H.T.S., Ranasinghe, R.A.M.P. and Karunananda, P.A.K., 2019. Structural Assessment and Restoration of Neelagiri Maha Seya in Ampara, Sri Lanka. OUSL Journal, 13(2). pp.101-123
5) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.21-23.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 14 September 2019

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Kshetrarama Maha Viharaya

The Stupa of Kshetrarama Maha Viharaya
Kshetrarama Maha Viharaya (also known as Kekirideniya Pansala) is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Lakshapathiya in Moratuwa, Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

History
Kshetrarama temple was established in 1829, by the chief monk Ven. Weligama Sri Sumanatissa Thera who was at the time residing at Walane Saranapala Maha Viharaya. The occupation ceremony of the monks' dwelling is said to be taken place in 1889, after performing the religious rituals for the death of Weligama Sri Sumanatissa Thera.

Monuments
The rock carved Buddha statue
Among the monuments of archaeological interest, the old image house and the two storied Seema Malakaya building are important. The Seema Malakaya building in Kshetrarama Viharaya is considered as a rare and unique monument as its architectural features are not seen at any other Buddhist temples in the country. It bears architectural patterns belonging to the period of Second World War (1939 – 1945).

The old image house is a small quadrangular structure and can be seen at the right side of the main entrance. Only a rock cut Buddha statue, its halo and a stone flower altar are found inside the image house. It is seemed that the original appearance of the image house has been altered due to the total renovations done recently.

The library of the temple also contains a large number of valuable Ola-leaf manuscripts such as Tripitaka and other religious writings. 

The old image-house The old Seema-Malakaya building
Location Map

Oluvil Lighthouse

Oluvil Lighthouse
Oluvil lighthouse is one of lighthouses in the country. It is located in the coastal village of Oluvil on the southeastern shore of Sri Lanka.

Construction
The feasibility studies for the development of Oluvil port were done during the period of 1995 - 1999 and after that the lighthouse was erected immediately along with a circuit bungalow and officers quarters by Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) near the port site. The lighthouse was declared open on 19 June 1999 by the then Sri Lanka's Minister for Port Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, M. H. M. Ashraff.

Tower
The tower is 84 feet tall (Ameerdeen, 2006).
Oluvil Lighthouse Oluvil Lighthouse
References
1) Ameerdeen, V., 2006. Ethnic Politics of Muslims in Sri Lanka. Centre for Minority Studies. p.143.

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Vallipuram Gold Plate and Buddha Statue

Vallipuram Gold Plate
Vallipuram Gold Plate (also called Vallipurama Ran Sannasa) is a small sheet of gold, containing an inscription written in early Sinhalese language (Paranavitana, 1983). It was discovered from a Hindu temple located in Vallipuram, Wadamarachchi Division, Jaffna District. As it is the oldest gold plate inscription found in the country, this artifact is considered very important to a person who researches the history of Sri Lanka as well as the Sinhala language in the 1st century A.D..

Besides the gold plate, other ruins such as some funerary urns, bricks, pottery, coins and a Buddha image of stone in the Amaravati style were discovered from the site (Veluppillai, 1981).

The gold sheet
The gold sheet was found in 1936, together with some other objects beneath the foundation of an ancient structure on a land adjacent to the Vallipuram Vishnu temple (Paranavitana, 1983). The sheet was brought to Paranavitana in 1937, by Rev. W. Rahula (Paranavitana, 1983) who had got it from a friend named S. Thangarajah (Fernando, 1990). Mr. Thangarah had got it from his cousin Rajah of Puloli, the finder of the sheet (Fernando, 1990).

After taking the necessary estampages and photographs, the sheet was returned to its owners. Later the National Museum Department had made an attempt to obtain the gold sheet. Mudaliyar Rasanayagam, a well-known antiquarian from Jaffna had been made to intervene and the finder was prepared to sell the sheet for 500 rupees (Fernando, 1990). However, suddenly the sheet vanished (Fernando, 1990). Marcus Fernando in his article (Fernando, 1990) mentions more details about the lost of the gold sheet as follows;
Sometime after the period to which this Chapter relates Mr. Nissanka Wijeyeratne (Now Dr.), then Secretary to the Minister of Cultural Affairs, made an effort to trace this gold-sheet. When that effort proved a failure, he ordered the Department of Archaeology to make an exact copy of the gold-sheet and to exhibit same at the Archaeological Museum, Jaffna. This order was carried out by the Department. When communal troubles erupted in 1983 this imitation sheet was removed to the Jaffna Kachcheri.
Then, one fine day, somebody created a flurry saying that the lost Vallipuram Gold-sheet was found in the Kachcheri vault, Enquiries, however, showed that what was found was the replica and not the original.
Citation : Fernando, 1990. p.113.
Inscription
The inscription has been engraved only on one side of a very thin gold sheet. It records about the construction of a Vihara at a place called Badakara Atana by a person named Piyaguka Tissa, when the minister Isigiraya was the Governor of Nagadipa, during the reign of King Vasabha (Dias et al., 2016).

  • Vallipuram Gold Sheet

    Reign  : King Vasabha (67-111 A.D.)
    Period : 1st century AC
    Script  : Later Brahmi
    Language : Old Sinhalese
    Material :
    Gold
    Length    : 10.1 cm
    Width      :
    4.2 cm
    Weight    : 5 g
    Location : Vallipuram
  • Content : 

    Transcript : Sidha! Maharaja-Vahayaha rajahi amete Isigiraye Nakadiva Bujameni Badakara-atanehi Piyaguka-Tisa Vihara karite
    Translation : Success! in the reign of the great king Vasabha, when the minister Isigiraya was governing the Nagadeepa, Piyaguka Tissa caused a Vihara to be built at Badakara Atana.
    References : Paranavitana, 1983; National Museum of Colombo.



The inscription contains 40 letters in 4 lines and has been written in the scripts of Brahmi that was in vogue in the first and second centuries A.D.

This inscription reveals that the king had a minister for North in his reign and therefore it confirms that King Vasabha had ruled the whole country including Nakadiva (Dias et al., 2016; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). Nakadiva in Old Sinhala is the equivalent of Pali Nagadipa (Dias et al., 2016) and it gives evidence that the northern part of the island was known at the time as Nagadipa, the name which is found in the Pali chronicle Mahawamsa.

Dr. Alvappillai Veluppillai, a Sri Lankan Tamil author, however, strove to show that some of the claims done for the Vallipuram gold plate by Senarath Paranavithana (Paranavitana, 1939) are in too exaggerated mode (Veluppillai, 1981). Through an article published in 1981, he had tried to suggest several Dravidian elements related to the gold plate (Veluppillai, 1981).

Vallipuram Buddha Statue
Vallipuram Buddha Statue (a replica)
According to the account given in the 'Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register' (Ceylon Antiquary 1916-17) by J. P. Lewis (the Government Agent for the Northern Province in 1903-1904), a Buddha statue of about 2.5 m tall had been unearthed in the precinct of the modern Vishnu temple at Vallipuram (Dias et al., 2016). It remained in a lumber-room of this Hindu temple until 1902 (Schalk, 1996). Lewis had obtained that statue from the caretaker priest of the Vishnu temple and installed it under a Bodhi-tree located in the Old Park of Jaffna. 

However, in 1906, the statue was presented by Governor Sir Henry Blake to the King of Siam (present Thailand), who was particularly anxious to have it, as it was supposed to be of an archaic type (Schalk, 1996). The statue is now preserved in a Buddhist Vihara (Wat Benchamabophit, which is known by tourists as "the Marble Temple) in Bangkok in Thailand (Dias et al., 2016; Schalk, 1996). A replica of this statue is also being displayed at the National Museum of Colombo.

The Buddha statue is made of limestone and in the Amaravathi style (Paranavitana, 1983). Depending on the characteristic features of the statue it has been dated to the 9th-10th centuries A.D.

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.166-167, 204-205.
2) Fernando, M., 1990. (Editor in chief: Wijesekara, N.) Section III: History of the Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka: 1930-1950. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): History of the Department of Archaeology (Vol. 1). Commissioner of Archaeology. pp.88-89, 113.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1939. Vallipuram Gold Plate Inscription of the reign of  Vasabha. Epigraphia Zeylanica (Vol. IV). Colombo. pp.229-237.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Vallipuram Gold Sheet Inscription. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.79-81.
5) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.14.
6) Schalk, P., 1996. The Vallipuram Buddha Image" Rediscovered". Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 16, pp.295-312.
7) Veluppillai, A., 1981. Tamils in Ancient Jaffna and Vallipuram Gold Plate. Journal of Tamil Studies, 19, pp.1-14.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Abhaya Wewa

Abhayavapi
Abhaya Wewa or Abhayavapi (also known as Basawakkulama) is an old tank located in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

History
According to historical sources such as Mahawamsa (Chap:10, V.88), King Pandukabhaya (437–367 B.C.), the grandson of Panduwasa Deva (504 – 474 B.C.), constructed the Abhaya tank at Anuradhapura in the 4th century B.C. (Seneviratna, 1991).

Inscriptions
Basavakkulama pillar inscription of King Sena II (853-887)
A pillar inscription belonging to the 9th century A.D. was discovered on the bund of the present tank (Ranawella, 2005). It is now kept at the inscription gallery of Colombo National Museum.

The inscription records about a decree issued by King Sena II, prohibiting illegal fishing in Abaya-wewa (Ranawella, 2005).

Abhaya Wewa pillar inscription of Queen Lilavati (1197-1200)
This pillar inscription was also found on the bund of the Abhaya Wewa at Anuradhapura (Muller, 1984; Ranawella, 2005). It is now on the display at the inscription gallery of Colombo National Museum.

The inscription records about a land grant made by a gentleman named Lag Vijayasingu Kit, the prime minister of the Queen Lilavati, to the monks who were living in the monastery named Ruvan-paya (Ranawella, 2005).

Tank
Abhayavapi (after restoration in 1874)

Area of tank : 1235 acres
Capacity : 1580 acre feet
Depth : 15 1/2 feet
Length of bund : 3/4 mile
Length of feeder channel : 1/4 mile
from Tissa Wewa L.L. sluice  
No. of sluices : one
No. of spills : one
Abhayavapi
References
1) Muller, E., 1984. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. pp.69-70.
2) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.10-14,97-99.
2) Seneviratna, A., 1991. The Ritualization of Space in Buddhist Architecture in Sri Lanka. Concepts of Space: Ancient and Modern. p.372.
 
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This page was last updated on 9 June 2019

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sri Subodharama Raja Maha Viharaya

Bikkhu residence, Karagampitiya temple
Sri Subodharama Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Karagampitiya Viharaya) is a historic Buddhist temple situated in Dehiwala in Colombo District, Sri Lanka (Hettige & Sudasinghe, 2015; Wickramasinghe, 2015). Located about 10 km distance from Colombo, the temple can be reached by traveling along the Colombo - Galle main road and turning to the Subodarama Viharaya road which is located at a distance of 250 m from the Dehiwala Junction.

History
Karagampitiya Subodharamaya has a history extending from the reign of King Parakramabahu VI of Kotte [(1412-1467 A.D.) Embuldeniya, 2014]. During this reign, a village called Medimala (Nedimale) had been offered to the Natha Devalaya at Pepiliyana (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). At the time, the western part of this village was occupying by the fishing community and hence that part was known as Karagampitiya. In order to banish enemies and to protect the fishermen in the village, the king had erected a Devalaya at the foot of a Na-tree located on a hillock of Karagampitiya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). However, this Devalaya is said to be destroyed by Portuguese and its stone pillars were brought by them to construct the Saint Anthony's Church at Mount-Lavinia (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

During the period of Dutch, a Dutch church and an Ambalama were built at Karagampitiya. It is said that the first incumbent of Karagampitiya Viharaya, Hikkaduwe Indrajothi Thera was living in that Ambalama (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1881, during the British period, when the Methodist Church of Mount-Lavinia was built, the stone pillars which had been brought to the Dutch church were again returned to the temple at Karagampitiya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

The Stupa, Karagampitiya Viharaya
The Buddha images of Karagampitiya temple are belonged to 1780 and said to be a work of the same artist of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1796, during the reign of King Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1782–1798 A.D.), the Stupa was added to the temple. Soon after the completion of Vihara, a sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura was planted in the temple premises (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). In 1895, constructions of the preaching hall and Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya (the shrine containing the paintings of the first Seven Weeks of Buddha) were finished. In 1800, during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 A.D.), the Sunandaramaya temple at Ambalangoda was the headquarter of the Buddhist monks' sect of Amarapura Nikaya. It is said that the name of Sunandaramaya was also used at the time to identify this Karagampitiya Viharaya (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The outer ceilings and exterior wall paintings of the image house were done in 1897. In 1898, the floor of the image house was decorated with some fragments of Dutch porcelain and coins (Chutiwongs et al., 1990). The Buddha statues and paintings in the inner chamber were redone in 1932 as well as in 1950 (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

Paintings
The Mural paintings of the main shrine room of Karagampitiya Viharaya are belonged to the 19th century and are categorized under the Southern School art style (Wijerathna et al., 2011). Among the paintings, the earliest are found in the inner walls of the ambulatory spaces (Thenuwara, 2006). The paintings found in the image house as well as in the preaching hall are considered important as they contain visual evidences to understand the 19th century textile designs in the country (Karunaratne & Bhagya, 2018; Wickramasinghe, 2015).
A portrait of Queen Victoria, Karagampitiya temple Queen Victoria at Karagampitiya Viharaya

Indicating  the coronation  as  the  queen  of all colonial
countries, a portrait of Queen Victoria has been painted
over  the  inner  entrance  door  of   the  image  house of
Karagampitiya temple. A similar portrait can  be seen at
Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya.

Reference : Chutiwongs et al., 1990. p.34.
A protected site
Ancient image house, Sathsathi Mandiraya, Bana preaching hall, Awasage and relic chamber belonging to Karagampitiya Subodharama Purana Vihara premises in the Karagampitiya Grama Niladhari Division in Dehiwala Divisional Secretariat Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Paintings of Karagampitiya Viharaya Paintings of Karagampitiya Viharaya Sath-Sathi-Mandiraya The floor is decorated with fragments of Dutch porcelain
Attribution
1) Subodharama Vihara 4 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. pp.33-40.
2) Embuldeniya, P., 2014. Countries which imported porcelain Products to Sri Lanka during 19th century: with special reference to mosaic art. Book of Abstracts, Annual Research Symposium, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. p.52.
3) Hettige, U. and Sudasinghe, A.U., 2015. Dancing costumes on the timber paintings in the Karagampitiya temple sermon hall (Dharma mandapaya). p.13.
4) Karunaratne, P.V.M. and Bhagya, N., 2018. A study of an iconic representations of textile designs in temple paintings of Sri Lanka. World Scientific News, 103, pp.19-31.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.123.
6) Thenuwara, C., 2006. The Murals of the Karagampitiya Subodharama Temple: An Investigation of the Pictorial Language of these murals of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation). p.IV.
7) Wickramasinghe, A.T.P., 2015. An Analysis of 19th century female clothing in Sri Lanka: depicted from Kathaluwa and Karagampitiya temple paintings.
8) Wijerathna, D.S., Ariadurai, S.A. and De Silva, N., 2011. Study on pictorial expression of the mural paintings at Subodharamaya temple murals of Karagampitiya, Dehiwala. pp.145-148.
 
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This page was last updated on 12 October 2019