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Dambulla Rock Inscription of Kirti Nissankamalla

Dambulla Rock Inscription of Kirti Nissankamalla
The Dambulla Rock Inscription of Kirti Nissankamalla (Sinhala: නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ දඹුල්ල ගිරි ලිපිය) is found engraved on the rock to the right immediately after passing the Vahalkada (the entrance hall) in the courtyard of Dambulla Cave Temple in Matale District, Sri Lanka (Seneviratna; 1983; Wickremasinghe, 1912). It is one of the many inscriptions established by King Nissankamalla (1187 - 1196 A.D.).

The inscription has been engraved on the rock surface covering an area of about 5 ft 9 in. by 3 ft 6 in. (Wickremasinghe, 1912). The writing has been executed between 25 parallel horizontal lines and the scripts represent the form of the Medieval Sinhala letters used in the 12th and 13th centuries (Wickremasinghe, 1912). Like most of Nissankamalla's records, this inscription also gives exaggerated accounts of his powers, his expeditions to Cola and the Pandya countries, and his philanthropic and religious acts (Ranawella, 2007).

Dambulu rock inscription
Reign: Kirti Sri Nissankamalla (1187 - 1196 A.D.)                 Period: 12th century A.D.
Language: Medieval Sinhala                                                     Script: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This inscription records the services rendered by King Nissankamalla to Buddhism and to his people. According to the inscription, Nissankamalla unified the monks of the three fraternities who had been separated for a long time and restored temples which had fallen into ruin. He built Viharas in Anuradhapura, Devi Nuwara, Kelani, Miyuguna, etc., and made donations of vast riches. He gilded the statues of the Buddha in the cave of Dambulla, celebrated a great puja at a cost of seven lakhs of money, and renamed the cave "Svarnagiri-guha" (golden rock cave).
References: Wickremasinghe, 1912.

1) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.127-130.
2) Seneviratna, A., 1983. Golden Rock Temple of Dambulla; Caves of infinite Buddhas. UNESCO-Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project. Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka. pp.30-31.
3) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.121-135.

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This page was last updated on 12 May 2023

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