Sunday, 17 November 2019

Kanniya Hot Springs and Archaeological Ruins

Kanniya Hot Springs
Kanniya Thermal Springs or Kanniya hot water wells (Sinhala: කන්නියා උණුදිය ලිං; Tamil: கன்னியா வெந்நீரூற்று) are located in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

Hot water springs
Commonly, thermal springs in the world are associated with volcanic terrain but the hot springs located in Sri Lanka are said to be not related to volcanic activities as the island is not in an active volcanic or tectonic region (Premasiri et al., 2006). Therefore, the waters can get heat either from subsurface heat sources such as large bodies of hot rocks or through deep percolation under the geochemical gradient of the earth (Adikaram & Dharmagunawardhane, 2013). If these waters find weak structural discontinuities leading upward they rise to the surface and emerge as naturally discharging hot water springs.

Kanniya springs
The Kanniya hot springs are located close to the boundary between Highland-Vijayan lithologic complexes (Premasiri et al., 2006). This boundary is a sub-horizontal ductile thrust zone where a number of geologic features are identified. They include major mineralization occurrences such as magnetite, serpentinite, gold, corundum and calcite as well as formations of hot water springs (Widanagamage, 2011). Seven outflowing hot water wells, each with varying temperatures, are situated close to each other at the site. The average temperature of Kanniya springs is said to be 42 °C (Premasiri et al., 2006).

Archaeological significance
The Kanniya hot water wells are situated on the premises of an ancient Buddhist monastery complex that functioned during the Anuradhapura Period. Structural ruins of an ancient Stupa and an image house which are belonging to the 2-3 centuries A.D. have been found at the site (Jayasinghe, 2019). Also, many Buddhist ruins including "Siri Pathul Gal" (Buddha's footprints), "Yupa Gal", broken images and pottery pieces have been discovered by exploratory excavations done at the site (Jayasinghe, 2019)

Kanniya hot water spring fragmentary inscription
A broken slab containing a later-Brahmi inscription was found by archaeologists from the Kanniya hot water wells premises.
Period: 2-3 centuries A.D.
Scripts: Later Brahmi                                       Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: "(1)...Maharaja Kujaviya...(2)...Marudaviya ha Bojiya(pathi)...(3)...Bojiyapathi ha cha pala...(4)...????...(5)...Me Ethaka Thanahi...(6)...Sagahaya Dini"
Content: The water tax received from near by tanks (such as) Kuruviya, Marudaviya, Palaweva was given to Sangha (Buddhist monks) by the king (the name is not in the preserved portion).
Reference: Jayasinghe, 2019.
A protected site
Seven hot water wells located in the vicinity of Chaithya mound and other building ruins in Kanniya village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 243/P, Kanniya in the Kadawath Sathara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 September 2011.  

The Kanniya hot water wells site, according to local Hindus, is a sacred Saiva site and its history is connected with King Ravana, a mythical figure found in the Indian epic Ramayana. However, the identification of this site as a Buddhist monastery complex by the Archaeological Department triggered a religious tension between the local Hindu and Buddhist devotees.

1) Sri Lankan Hot Bath by Annette 777 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1) Adikaram, A.M.N.M., Dharmagunawardhane, H.A., 2013. Diurnal temperature variations in thermal water springs: A case study at Mahaoya thermal spring cluster, Sri Lanka.
2) Jayasinghe, P., 2019. Kanniya unuwathura lin parishraye puravidyathmaka smaraka sanrakshanayata piyawara gene (In Sinhala). Dayada newsletter. Vol.13. July 2019. Department of Archaeology.  p.2.
3) Premasiri, H.M.R., Wijeyesekera, D.S., Weerawarnakula, S. and Puswewala, U.G.A., 2006. Formation of Hot Water Springs in Sri Lanka. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. p.7.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1723. 9 September 2011. p.683.
5) Widanagamage, I.H., 2011. EMPA dating of monazite from high grade metamorphic rocks along the Highland-Vijayan boundary zone, Sri Lanka. MSc thesis, Kent State University. pp.17-18

Location Map
This page was last updated on 16 April 2023


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