Saturday, November 23, 2019

Demalamaha Seya

Demalamaha Seya
Demalamaha Seya (also known as Damila Thupa) is a gigantic brick-built Stupa situated in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The smaller Stupa with a square-shaped platform
Demalamaha Seya, according to the description in Mahawamsa, was a Stupa with a size of approximately 1300 cubit (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018). It is believed that this Stupa was built by King Parakramabahu I (1153–1186 A.D.) in the 12th century with a workforce of Cola labors who brought from South India as prisoners (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018; Prematileke, 1990).

According to scholars, this Stupa built by King Parakramabahu I was intended to surpass all other monuments of the type in the country (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018; Ray, 1960). However, due to some reason, the king has not completed the dome of Stupa and stopped its construction at a height of about 50 feet from the ground, forming an extensive circular plateau at the top (Ray, 1960). In the middle of that plateau, a smaller Stupa with a square-shaped platform has been built.

Carbon dating
A sample of charcoal that collected from the Stupa platform during the excavations done between 2014-2017, was tested by the authorities for finding its radiocarbon date and it had yielded the date as 1155 A.D. (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018).

The present Stupa covers an area of about 4 acres and it has a perimeter of about 700 m and a height of about 20 m (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018). It resembles architectural similarities to the Suthighara Stupa at Dedigama (Parakramabahu's birth place) as well as to the Yudaganawa Stupa (considered to be the place of Parakramabahu's mother's cremation) at Buttala (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018).

According to the opinion of scholars, this Stupa has been built by enveloping a large existing quartzite rock (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018; Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematileke, 1990).

Excavation and conservation attemps
The Stupa which was remained like a small hill covered with vegetation for a long period was started to investigate several times by the authorities. It was first investigated in 1930 by A.H. Longhurst of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018). After that, the site was excavated several times by Central Cultural Fund (CCF) during the period between 1983 - 1998 (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018).

The excavation works of the Stupa were again started on 23 March 2014 by the CCF (Gunawardhana & Perera, 2018)

A protected monument
The Demala Maha Seya located in the Sri Nissankamallapura village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Thamankaduwa is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 4 June 2004.

A massive brick structure Excavation pits
1) Gunawardhana, P.; Perera, N., 2018. Excavations of Demalamahaseya, Polonnaruwa: 2014-2017. Buddha Rashmi Vesak Volume. Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Education. pp.1-7.
2) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.86.
3) Prematilleke, L., 1990. The architecture of the Polonnaruwa Period B.C. 800 - 1200 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.47.
4) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol I, part II). Ceylon University Press. pp.594-595.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1344. 4 June 2004. p.15.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 28 March 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map


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