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Gurukanda Viharaya (Mullaitivu)

Gurukanda Viharaya
Gurukanda Viharaya (Photo credit: Google street view)

Gurukanda Purana Raja Maha Viharaya (Chemmalai Archaeological Site) is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Chemmalai in Mullaitivu District, Sri Lanka.

According to archaeological evidence, this site belongs to the Period of Anuradhapura (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

Archaeological Site
Located near the Nayaru lagoon, the site contains archaeological ruins of an ancient monastery of the Buddhist tradition (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Presently, a new Buddhist temple has been built at the site. The modern building which is being used as the monks' dwelling has been constructed over an ancient Stupa mound or some other old structure (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Several ancient monuments including Stupas, base stones, many potsherds and old bricks have been found at the site (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

However, improper human activities have caused severe damage to the archaeological site. A new road has been built across the ancient temple complex dividing the monuments into separate land plots. Several old artefacts that had been unearthed during the road expansion process in 2015, are currently placed in a small room built on the premises (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

Bulldozed Stupa
Few mounds of ancient Stupas have been identified at the Gurukanda archaeological site. Among them, one Stupa has been flattened to the ground by vandals using a bulldozer. The destroyed Stupa is believed to had a diameter of 10 m and the bricks used to construct it vary in size (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Artefacts belonging to the Anuradhapura Period such as fragments of roof tiles and red colour pottery pieces have been found at this vandalised Stupa site (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

Presently, this site is claimed by both Buddhist and Hindu people. Besides the modern Buddhist temple, a small Hindu shrine named Neeravi Pillaiyar Temple is also located on the same site. Due to the lack of knowledge regarding the true identity of this site, some disagreements have arisen between the Buddhist and Hindu devotees.

See also

1) Asanga, M.V.G.K.; Nishantha, I.P.S., 2018. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mulathivu Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:978-955-7457-25-3. pp.120-122.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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