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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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

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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.
 
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