Archaeological Ruins at Kotte Ananda Sastralaya

Ruins at Kotte Ananda Sastralaya
The ruins of several underground structures (probably the ruins of an underground residence of a  Buddhist monastery) made of "Kabok" (laterite) have been unearthed from the school premises of Ananda Sastralaya in Pita Kotte village in Colombo District, Sri Lanka (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). Without certain identification, these ruins are popularly called by the locals as an ancient tunnel complex belonging to the Kingdom of Kotte (1412-1597 A.D.).

Folklore says that Prince Veediya Bandara who had been held inside the fort of Colombo by the Portuguese was rescued by his wife by having a tunnel dug underneath the walls of the fort (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The tunnel entrance, according to folklore, was somewhere in Kotte and the rest was extending towards the Colombo Fort and Borella Cemetery (Manathunga, 2016; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The ruined structure with a door-shaped cavity exposed within the premises of Kotte Ananda Sastralaya is believed by the locals as the tunnel entrance that is mentioned in the folklore (Rajapakshe et al., 2018; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

However, an excavation which was carried out at the premises by the Archaeological Department in 2014, revealed no single evidence of a tunnel but the ruins of a small Stupa and a chamber built of laterite rock (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Also, a fragment of plaque with the carvings of miniature Buddha figures has been recovered from the site and that artefact is presently on the display at the Archaeological Museum of Kotte.

The site contains two large structures, viz; a Stupa and a tall rectangular chamber. They have been built by digging the living laterite rock and hence located about 3 m below the ground level (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The rectangular chamber, according to the local beliefs is the tunnel entrance/exit but its true identity is yet to be found. A portico is extending outwards from this rectangular chamber and its front face has been decorated with a "Makara Thorana" (a dragon arch). The floor of the ruins can be reached through a flight of steps starting from the ground level. The steps have also been cut out of living laterite rock and end with a shape similar to a Sandakada Pahana [(a moonstone) Rajapakshe et al., 2018]. 

A protected site
The ancient ruins (the gazette mentions them as the ruins of an ancient tunnel) located in the school premises of Ananda Sastralaya in the Grama Niladari Division of Pitakotte (No. 522 B) in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 27 June 1952.

1) A Tunnel Which Supposedly Led To Colombo Fort by Indi Samarajiva is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.86-87.
2) 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. p.4.
3) The Goverment gazette notification. No: 10418. 27 June 1952.
4) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.116.  

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2022

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