Saturday, November 9, 2019

Arankele Archaeological Site, Kurunegala

The Chankamanagharaya, Arankele
Arankele is a ruined forest monastery located in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. Presently, the site has been declared as an archaeological reserve.

History
The exact history of Arankele is not known yet as there are no any written sources those reveal about the establishment of this monastery. However, the origin of this monastery is thought to be belonged to the early Anuradhapura Period (Anuradhapura Period: 377 B.C.-1017 A.D.). Architecture of the remaining buildings and structures indicates that they are belonged to a period between 8-10 centuries A.D.

The history of this place, according to some, is connected with King Mahasena who reigned in Anuradhapura during the period of 275-301 A.D. The chronicle Mahawamsa states that King Mahasena who once came to see the construction works of Kimbulvana Oya, had seen a picturesque site near the Dolukanda area and had ordered his men to construct a new Buddhist monastery there (Anulawathi, 2015). Some believe that the monastery which is mentioned in the Mahawamsa could be the one presently known as Arankele (Anulawathi, 2015).

It is also believed that the monastery was probably functioning during the Gampola period (1341-1408 A.D.).

Nomenclature
The name "Arankele" is said to be evolved from the combination of two words: "Aran" and "Kele". The word Aran is thought to be either derived from "Arahat" (meaning Arhant) or "Arama" (meaning monastery) and the word "Kele" gives the meaning as "the forest".

Archaeological monuments
The Maliyadeva Lena, Arankele
The site is dotted with a large number of buildings and structures including caves, Padhanagharas, Janthagharas, promenades, ponds, monks' dwellings, Bodhigharas, etc.

Caves
Several natural caves in the eastern slope of the Arankele mountain (known as Dumkanda mountain) have been utilized during the 3rd century B.C. to 1st century A.D. to accommodate Buddhist monks. Among them, the cave house known as "Maliyadeva Lena" is considered special (Anulawathi, 2015).

Padhanaghara
During the latter part of the Anuradhapura period, Padhanagharas became popular and were built in several places in Sri Lanka such as Arankele, Ritigala, Batahirarama, and Veherabendigala. Built-in the style of double-platform monasteries, Padhanagharas accommodated the Buddhist monks who devoted themselves to meditation.

Janthagharaya
A large Janthaghara building which was used for hot baths, saunas, and medicinal baths is found in the Arankele monastery complex (Anulawathi, 2015; Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The hearths used for boiling water and grinding stones for the making of medicinal pastes from herbs are still visible inside the building.

Chankamanagharaya
The ruined structure which is about 16.7 m in length and 4.1 m in width is known as Chankamanagharaya and has been built sheltering a promenade (Anulawathi, 2015). A sanitary building comprising of a urinal, toilet and washroom is located in the vicinity of the building.

The Janthagharaya, Arankele A flight of steps, Arankele The Salu-pili Maligaya, Arankele Steps leading to the forest, Arankele A pond at Arankele A Padhanaghara building, Arankele
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References
1) Anulawathi, K. M., 2015. Aithihasika Arankele (A leaflet in Sinhala). Divisional Archaeological office, Panduwasnuwara.
2) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.35-38.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 2 May 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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