Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Senanayake Samudraya

Senanayaka Samudraya
Senanayake Samudraya (also known as Inginiyagala Reservoir or Gal Oya Dam) is a reservoir located in Inginiyagala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. At present, it is the largest reservoir in the country.

History
The possibility of constructing a large reservoir in the Inginiyagala area was first identified in the 1930s by J.S. Kennedy, a British Director of Irrigation (Wijesundera, 2006). After many inspections and other planning processes the construction works of the reservoir was commenced in March 1949 (Wijesundera, 2006). The Morrison–Knudsen International Inc of California, an international firm of contractors, was awarded the contract (Wijesundera, 2006). Providing water for irrigation, controlling floods, and generating electrical power for lighting and for the industry were among the purposes of constructing the reservoir (Wijesundera, 2006).
 
The construction of the main dam of the reservoir was started in 1949 and was completed in November 1951 (Wijesundera, 2006). The power plant was connected to the penstock tubes on 25 November 1951 and water was issued through the irrigation outlets on 10 December 1951 (Wijesundera, 2006). The final works of the project were handed over to the Gal Oya Development Board in September 1952 (Wijesundera, 2006). 
 
The completed reservoir was named "Senanayake Samudra" after the first Prime Minister of Ceylon D.S. Senanayake who was primarily responsible for getting this project carried out (Wijesundera, 2006).

Reservoir
The reservoir has been build by constructing an earthen dam across the Gal Oya stream, at a narrow gap in the valley by the Inginiyagala hills (Arumugam, 1969). The dam is about 3600 ft long and 140 ft tall (Arumugam, 1969). The width of the dam at the top is 30 ft (Arumugam, 1969). 
 
Extending in an area of about 30 square miles, the reservoir is able to store 770,000 acre-feet capacity of water (Arumugam, 1969). A concrete spillway of about 1020 ft long has been constructed 1.5 miles far away from the main dam (Arumugam, 1969). 
 
The water of the reservoir is primarily used for irrigation in Eastern and Uva provinces and in addition to that, the water is used to generate the hydro-electricity through the Inginiyagala Power Station that located immediately downstream of the dam.

Senanayaka Samudraya .
References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.163.
2) Wijesundera, S.D.S., 2006. Constructions through the ages. Centenary commemoration publications 1906-2006. The Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka. pp.49-53.

Location Map
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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Ritigala

Ritigala ruins
Ritigala (or Aritthagiri) is a mountain with the ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery, situated in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

Etymology
The name “Ritigala” comprises two words; ‘Riti’ and ‘gala’. In the Sinhala language, ‘gala’ means ‘the rock’. The word ‘riti’ has five possible meanings (CCF, 1983).

(i)Riti’ may have derived from the Pali word ‘arittha’ (Sanskrit: aristi) which means ‘safety’. The chronicle Mahavamsa mentions this place as ‘arittha pabbatha’ (in the Pali language, ‘pabbatha’ is used to denote ‘a rock or mountain’), and this identification is confirmed by H.C.P. Bell’s discovery of the name ‘arita-gama’ in two of the inscriptions that found in Ritigala premises; one at Kuda-arambadda-hinna and the other at Vevel-tenna (Wickremasinghe, 1912).

(ii) The word ‘arittha’ can also be translated as ‘dreadful’, so, it may give the meaning as ‘the dreadful rock’ (CCF, 1983). The villagers in the neighborhood of Ritigala believe that this place is infested by Yakkhas [(demons) Wickremasinghe, 1912].

(iii) According to some, this mountain has got its name due to the riti-trees (Antiaris toxicaria) growing upon it (CCF, 1983; Green, 1990).

(iv) ‘Arittha’ may also give the meaning of ‘the long pole’. Thus it can be identified as the rock as steep & erect as a long pole (CCF, 1983).

(v) The name arittha-pabbata may simply be the ‘mountain of Arittha’, named after the prince Maha-Arittha, a nephew of King Devanampiyatissa [(247-207 B.C.) CCF, 1983; Wickremasinghe, 1912]. Arittha was the one appointed by the king to obtain a cutting of the Bodhi-tree from the Indian Emperor Asoka (CCF, 1983).

Legends
Ramayanaya
The legendary aspect of Ritigala is first encountered in Ramayanaya, one of the Sanskrit epics of ancient India. The Aristha mountain that is mentioned in Ramayanaya is supposed by some to be the Ritigala mountain in Sri Lanka (CCF, 1983). However, the authenticity of Ramayanaya is controversial, and therefore it is today dismissed as a myth (Goonatilake, 2010).

Yakkhas
All vegetation on Ritigala is believed to be protected by Yakkhas, the guardian spirits of the mountain (CCF, 1983). Yakkhas are thought to have inhabited Sri Lanka before the arrival of Vijaya in the 5th century B.C. and Ritigala is thought to have been one of the main living places of them. The Samantakuta Vannana, a 13th century Pali poem on Sri Pada (Adam’s peak) mountain mentions Ritigala as one of the haunts of aborigines of the country, named Yakkhas at the time of the supposed first visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka (Wickremasinghe, 1912). Some regard the Yakkhas as the forebears of the present Vedda community (CCF, 1983).

King Pandukabhaya
As mentioned in the 'Etymology' section, the Mahavamsa identifies this place as ‘arittha pabbatha’. The earliest reference to this name in the chronicle is found during the time of Prince Pandukabhaya [(reigned: 377-307 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963]. It is said that Pandukabhaya got the support of the inhabitants of Ritigala, the Yakkhas, in the decisive battle against his uncles (CCF, 1983; Wickremasinghe, 1912).

History
Several Sri Lankan chronicles and texts such as Mahavamsa, Kada-im-pota (‘Boundary Book), Samantakuta Vannana, etc. reveal some detail about Ritigala (Wickremasinghe, 1912). The Mahavamsa states that Prince Dutugemunu (reigned: 161-137 B.C.) during his military campaign against King Elara (c.205-161 B.C.), a South Indian invader, had stayed at a village named Mahelanagara for four months before subduing the commander named Mahela by a cunningly planned battle (CCF, 1983). Scholars such as C.W. Nicholas believe that Mahelanagara village must have been near the Makulaka Vihara which was built at the foot of Ritigala (CCF, 1983; Nicholas, 1963).

In the 7th century A.D., Prince Jetthatissa, the younger son of King Samghatissa II (c. 611-? A.D.) who was beheaded with his elder son by a usurper to the throne, spent his time at Arittha (Ritigala) mountain to organize an army to attack the usurper and regain the throne (CCF, 1983).

Buddhist monasteries
As the presence of the early-Brahmi cave inscriptions, Ritigala can be identified as a site that provided dwellings to the Buddhist monks since the pre-Christian era (Paranavitana, 1970). The Mahavamsa records that King Suratissa (187-177 B.C.) constructed a monastery called Makulaka Vihara (Mangula Viharaya) at the foot of the Ritigala mountain (CCF, 1983; Wikramagamage, 2004; Wickremasinghe, 1912) Also, it is said that by the 1st century B.C., there was a monastery named Arittha Viharaya built by King Lanjatissa [(59-50 B.C.) CCF, 1983; Nicholas, 1963; Wickremasinghe, 1912]. However, the locations of both monasteries are now no longer known (CCF, 1983).

The Culavamsa (the latter part of Mahavamsa) reveals that in the 9th century A.D., King Sena I (831-851 A.D.) constructed a monastery on Ritigala for the Buddhist monks of Pamsukulika fraternity (CCF, 1983; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). He had also given to it royal privileges and a great number of keepers for the garden, and servants, and artificers (Wickremasinghe, 1912). An inscription erected by this king in Kivulekada mentions him as King Salamevan, the founder of the Ritigal Monastery (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1933).

Destruction
The site is believed to be alive until its monastery was destroyed by the South Indian Cholas who started to invade the country from the end of the 10th century A.D. (CCF, 1983). From that time onward, the monastic site remained in the jungle silently until it was reported by explorers in the latter half of the 19th century (CCF, 1983).

Discovery
The ruins of the site were first reported by James Mantell in 1872, and again by D.G. Mantell in 1878 (CCF, 1983). More reports on them came later with a few publications by A.P. Green (1888), and J.B.M. Ridout [(1892) CCF, 1983]. An extensive report on the rock-caves, and ruins as well as the inscriptions of Ritigala was published in 1893 by the then Archaeological Commissioner H.C.P. Bell (CCF, 1983). 
 
The first report on the rich flora composition of the Ritigala mountain was published in 1889 by a botanist named Henry Trimen (CCF, 1983; Gunawardene & Wijeyaratne, 2020). He was followed by Wills in 1906 and Jayasuriya in 1984 (Gunawardene & Wijeyaratne, 2020).

Ancient ruins and monuments
Caves & inscriptions
More than 70 rock-caves with or without inscriptions have been identified in Ritigala (CCF, 1983). The caves are distributed as clusters and the largest clusters are found on the Na-Maluwa and Na-Ulpota ridges to the west, the Kuda-arambedda ridge to the south-west, the Marakkala Ulpota on the south termination of the range, and the Andiyakanda ridge to the east (CCF, 1983). Also, a few clusters of caves have been identified in the vicinity of Banda-Pokuna, Veveltenna ridge, and the Karammbe-hinne range. A large number of early-Brahmi inscriptions that are inscribed on the brows of these caves have been read and published from time to time by scholars such as H.C.P. bell, D.M.D.Z. Wickremasinghe, and S. Paranavitana (Paranavitana, 1970; Wickremasinghe, 1912). Of them, a cave inscription from the Andiyakanda complex is considered historically important as it is the only one in which a king is referred to as the son of another (CCF, 1983).

Period            : 1st century B.C.
Transcript  : Devanapiya-maharajha Gamini-Tisaha puta Devanapiya-Tisa-ma[harajhaha] lene agata-anagata-cadu-disa-shagasha.
Translation  : The cave of the great King Tissa, the Friend of the Gods, son of the great King Gamani Tissa, the Friend of the Gods, [is given] to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
Notes            : The donor of this inscription has been identified as King Lanjatissa (59-50 B.C.) the builder of the Arittha Viharaya at Ritigala. The father mentioned here is King Saddhatissa (77-59 B.C.).
References  : CCF, 1983; Paranavitana, 1970.

The ruined Padhanaghara monastery complex
The ruined monastery complex covers an area of about 24 hectares (60 acres) and is located on the eastern side of the Ritigala mountain (CCF, 1983). It has been identified as a Padhanaghara type monastery endowed to the monks of the Pamsukulika fraternity by King Sena I in the 9th century A.D. (CCF, 1983; Devendra, 1956). This type of monasteries has also been identified at a number of sites including Veherabandigala, Arankele, Mihintale, and Western Monasteries at Anuradhapura. 

‘Pamsukulika’ means ‘rag robes’ and the monks of this order wore only robes made from rags collected from the corpses in the cemeteries or rags thrown away by the laity (CCF, 1983). They followed extreme austerity practices and lived in monasteries now known as Padhanaghara Pirivenas (CCF, 1983). Pamsukulika monks came into prominence at the end of the 7th century A.D. or the beginning of the 8th century A.D. and disappeared from the chronicles after the beginning of the 12th century A.D. (CCF, 1983). 
 
A Padhanaghara is often built at a site with the bedrock almost at the surface or at a shallow depth. The monastery design usually follows a typical plan with twin structure (two/double-platform) made out of dressed stones, surrounded by a shallow artificial moat. The two platforms are linked to each other by a  large monolithic stone slab/bridge spanning across the shallow moat in-between. Bathing ponds, long terraces for the meditational walks of the resident monks, and outer boundary walls are also found in these monasteries.

A distinguishing feature of these monuments is that the buildings of this type of monasteries are not decorated with ornamental carvings and sculptures but urinal and lavatory stones have been decorated with ornate stone carvings. One such urinal stone with decorations has been found from Ritigala premises (CCF, 1983). 

The wooden Buddha statue
A broken Buddha statue made of wood was discovered in 1893 by H.C.P. Bell at the site known as Na-Maluwa in Ritigala (Devendra, 1956). This artifact is special because of the unusual posture depicts by the hands of the statue. The hands are crossed over the chest and fingers are lightly resting on the mid-upper arms. The body including the left shoulder is covered with the robe but leaving the right shoulder bare. It is considered to be one of the oldest specimens of Buddha images in this category (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
A few statues with similar posture have also been found from other sites in Sri Lanka, such as Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya, Yatala Vehera, and Dambulla (Devendra, 1956).
 
Banda-Pokuna
On the way climbing up to the summit of the Ritigala mountain, a large breached pond known as Banda-Pokuna can be seen. The pond encloses an area of about 0.8 hectares (2 acres) and its broken bund has a polygonal plan (CCF, 1983). The inner face of the bund is lined with continuous stone steps which, in ancient times, led down into the water (CCF, 1983). The total circumference of the pond is 366 m [(1200 ft) CCF, 1983].

Ritigala Mountain and forest
Located between the two ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the Ritigala mountain rises to 766 m.a.s.l. (Wickramasinghe et al., 1996). It is the highest mountain range rising from the great central plain of Sri Lanka and its height easily surpasses the elevations of other neighboring mountains including Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Mihintale (CCF, 1983). The mountain is divided into northern and southern blocks by the shallow Maha-Degala gorge (Green, 1990; Gunawardene & Wijeyaratne, 2020).

The Ritigala mountain experience different environmental conditions probably due to varying heights, rainfall, temperature, and wind patterns (Wikramagamage, 2004). Although the altitude of Ritigala is comparatively low, the climate at the summit of the mountain is unexpectedly cooler. It receives a high rainfall especially during the north-east monsoon season than any part of the dry zone which surrounds it (CCF, 1983). The mist and cloud that cover the summit, mainly during the south-west monsoon season result in high vapor condensation and therefore keep the earth always wet even at a time when the surrounding plain below is gripped in drought (CCF, 1983).

Ritigala Strict Natural Reserve
Due to its rich bio-diversity, the upper part of the Ritigala mountain (altitude: 125-766 m) was declared as a strict nature reserve by a government gazette notification (no. 8809) published on 7 November 1941 (Green, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004). The forest extends from north to south about 6.5 km distance with a maximum width of about 3 km (Wickramasinghe et al., 1996). The total area of the reserve is 1528.1 hectares (Wikramagamage, 2004). Presently, the forest is administered under the authority of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (Wickramasinghe et al., 1996). 

The dominant vegetation in Ritigala is dry-mixed evergreen forest (Gunawardene & Wijeyaratne, 2020). However, the vegetation of the area can be divided into several clear altitudinal zones, viz; Disturbed dry-mixed evergreen (below 300 m), Dry-mixed evergreen (300-500 m), Short stature forest [(above 500 m) Gunawardene & Wijeyaratne, 2020]. Studies carried out by Jayasuriya in this reserve in 1980, 1984 revealed more than 400 taxa and among them, about 80 are non-flowering plants (Green, 1990). Out of the 329 flowering plants he recorded, 54 (representing 16.4%) species are endemic to Sri Lanka (Green, 1990).
 
Ritigala is also the home for a large number of wild animals including elephants, leopards, monkeys, birds, amphibians, and reptiles (Green, 1990). A good number of them are endemic to the country (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
Ritigala ruins Ritigala ruins
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Attribution
1) CIMG0026 by Jaliyaj is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and Ritigala Strict Natural Reserve by VLS Travels is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
2) Ritigala by Teseum is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
3) Ritigala by Marc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

References
1) CCF, 1983. Ritigala. Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Colombo. pp.1-33.
2) Devendra, D.T., 1956. An unusual hand position in Ceylon statuary. Artibus Asiae, 19(2), pp.126-136.
4) Green, M.J.B. ed., 1990. IUCN directory of South Asian protected areas. IUCN. pp.239-242. 
5) Gunawardene, K.W., and Wijeyaratne, S.C., 2020. Species diversity and altitudinal preferences of lichens on selected substrata in Ritigala Strict Natural Reserve. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 48(1).
6) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). pp.171-172.
7) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early-Brahmi inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.19-21.
8) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Two inscriptions of Sena I. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.289-191.
9) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.35-39.
10) Wickramasinghe, A., Pérez, M.R. and Blockhus, J.M., 1996. Nontimber forest product gathering in Ritigala Forest (Sri Lanka): household strategies and community differentiation. Human Ecology, 24(4), pp.493-519. 
11) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.135-153. 
 
Location Map
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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Konduwatuwana Wewa and Archaeological Ruins

Konduwatuwana Wewa
Konduwatuwana Wewa (also written as Kondavattavan or Kandewattavana) is a reservoir situated in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
Reservoir
The present reservoir is said to have been constructed under the Pattipola Aru Scheme; now incorporated in the Gal Oya Scheme (Arumugam, 1969). It was restored in 1912 (Arumugam, 1969).

Archaeological ruins
A site with the ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery is found within the premises of Sri Lanka Army Combat Training School located near the Konduwatuwana reservoir. Ruined buildings with stone pillars, old bricks, Siripatula stones, and inscriptions are found among the ruins (Medhananda, 2003; Vithanachchi, 2013). The circular stone slab containing a mark of Siripatula (Pada-lanchana-gala) is considered as a rare artifact (Medhananda, 2003). The diameter of this stone is 2 ft 6 in and the print of Siripatula has been carved in the middle of it (Medhananda, 2003).

There are also some sites around the Konduwatuwana reservoir with archaeological ruins including inscriptions (Vithanachchi, 2013). These ruined sites may or may not have formed a single monastery in ancient times (Nicholas, 1963). Inscriptions belonging to the pre-Christian and early centuries A.D. have been recorded from these sites and one of them gives the ancient name of the monastery as "Ahali-araba-vihara" (Nicholas, 1963).

Konduwatuwana pillar inscription
A pillar containing a Sinhala inscription dated in the 10the regnal year of King Dappula IV (923-935 A.D.) was discovered near the Konduwatuwana reservoir in 1953 (Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2004). It records about certain immunities granted by the king in respect of a village named "Äragama" (present Konduwatuwana) located in the region of "Metera-Digamandulla", the revenue of which were enjoyed at the time by a Senevirad (a Commander-in-Chief) named Dandanayaka Sangva Rakus (Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2004). It also contains certain regulations regarding the revenue and judicial administration of that village (Ranawella, 2004).

Reservoir
Except the drainage from its own catchment area, a channel from Himidurawa Wewa supplies water to the Konduwatuwana reservoir (Arumugam, 1969). The bund of the reservoir is 4500 ft long and the water is extending in an area of about 880 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969). The reservoir has 1 sluice and 2 spills and supplies water to the Ampara Wewa and to Walathapitiya Wewa (Arumugam, 1969).

A protected site
The place with the ruins of ancient buildings in the area called Konduwatuwan belonging to Govikandawura village situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. W/86/K 060 Kotawehera in the Divisional Secretary’s Division Ampara is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.

Konduwatuwana Wewa .
References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.168.
2) Medhananda, Ven. Ellawala, 2003. Pacheena passa - Uttara passa: Negenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala bauddha urumaya (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-686-112-9. p.179.
3) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). pp.28-29.
4) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-30-5. pp.73-78.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1884. 10 October 2014, p. 921.
6) Vithanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5.  pp.39-40.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 8 November 2020
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Ampara Wewa

Ampara Wewa
Ampara Wewa is a reservoir situated in Ampara town, Sri Lanka.

History
The present reservoir was constructed under the Pattipola Aru Scheme; now incorporated in the Gal Oya Scheme (Arumugam, 1969). It was restored in 1873 and improved in 1912 (Arumugam, 1969).

Reservoir
Except the drainage from its own catchment area, a channel from the Konduwatuwana reservoir supplies water to the Ampara reservoir (Arumugam, 1969). The bund of the reservoir is about 1 mile long and the water is extending in an area about 900 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969). The reservoir has 2 sluices and 2 spills (Arumugam, 1969).

Ampara Wewa Ampara Wewa .
References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.169.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 November 2020
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Jaffna Fort

Jaffna Fort
Jaffna Fort is a colonial fort built in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. Situated closer to the south of the Jaffna Peninsula, the fort has been erected adjacent to the Jaffna lagoon (Wijebandara, 2014). The fort is considered as an outstanding Dutch architectural site found in the South East Asian region.

History
Jaffna was controlled by the Portuguese from 1619 to 1658 and then by Dutch from 1658 to 1796 and finally by the British from 1796 to 1948 (Wijebandara, 2014). The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1619, as a four-sided garrison with other components such as ramparts, corner bastions, and a moat (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). In 1658, it was captured by the Dutch after a three month and a half month siege (Mandawala, 2012). The Dutch expanded and converted it to a pentagon-shaped fort using building materials such as lime-stones, coral-stones, etc. to facilitate trading activities of Sri Lanka's Northern region. The fort also included inner fortifications with ramparts, corner bastions, and a star-shaped moat. In September 1796, the British took over control of it (Wijebandara, 2014). They made few renovations on the fort and used it as their administrative garrison.

Summary (Wijebandara, 2014)
1617 - Portuguese captured Jaffna and Phillippe de Oliveira became the first Governor.
1624 - Commencing the construction works of the Jaffna fort.
1624 - (22 March) Death of the Phillippe de Oliveira.
1632 - Ending the construction works of the Jaffna fort.
1658 - (March) Dutch captured the fort.
1665 - Designing the Jaffna fort.
1680 - Finishing the construction works of the inner defense zone.
1792 - Ending the construction works of the Jaffna Dutch fort.
1795 - (28 September) British captured Jaffna.
1796 - (September) British established their control over the Jaffna Peninsula.

Excavations in 2011
An excavation pit dug inside the Jaffna Fort in 2011 revealed that the history of this premises goes back to the middle-Anuradhapura Period or 6-7th centuries A.D. (Wijebandara, 2014). A large number of clay pottery pieces, some are of Rome (such as Amphora jar) and Chinese origin, were found during the excavation. Pottery pieces related to the Chola Period (10th century) and to the 10-13th centuries A.D. were also found (Wijebandara, 2014).

Chola inscription of Jaffna fort
A slab containing a Tamil inscription dated in the reign of a South-Indian Chola king was discovered from the fort premises (Wijebandara, 2014).

Fort
In terms of size, Jaffna Fort is only second to the Galle Fort which is the largest fort in the country (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). It expands in an area of about 64 acres (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). It has a 40 ft wide base and a slope of 20 ft wide parapet walls. Outside the parapet is a deep moat. It originally had five ramparts, artillery fortification, a protestant church, a prison, Queen's place, administrative garrisons, and 21 dug wells. Also, there were three bridges between the outer fortifications and the inner fort across the moat.

Unlike the forts at Colombo and Galle which were fortified town, the Jaffna fort was used for exclusively for military and administrative purposes (Mandawala, 2012). It is the only fort in Sri Lanka where its inner defenses have a geometrically regular pentagonal layout (Dias et al., 2016). Also, it is the only example in the country where outer fortifications consisting of the glacis, ravelins, and covered way are found (Dias et al., 2016). The present Duraiappa stadium and Muneeswaran Kovil are said to have been built in the area where the glacis of the old fort located (Wijebandara, 2014).

Although it was first built by the Portuguese, it is presently known as a Dutch fort because of its typical Dutch architectural features. Until the 1970s, the fort and its building were in their original state, and in the purpose of protect them the site was declared as an archaeological reserve on 31 May 1971 by the government (Dias et al., 2016; Mandawala, 2012; Wijebandara, 2014). However, some parts of the fort was damaged during the Sri Lankan civil war (Dias et al., 2016; Mandawala, 2012). After the end of the civil war in 2009, the conservation of the fort was commenced by the Department of Archaeology with the assistance of the Government of Netherlands (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014).

Jaffna Fort Jaffna Fort Jaffna Fort .
Attribution
1) Jaffna Fort (1) by Rehman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) Jaffna Fort (2) by Rehman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
3) Jaffna Fort - Hangman's Tower by AntanO is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
4) Джафна by Inna67895 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.195-197. 
2) Mandawala, P.B., 2012. Sri Lanka: Defending the military heritage; legal, administrative and financial challenges. Defending the military heritage; legal, financial and administrative issues. Reports from the Seminar 16 – 17 May, 2011, in Karlskrona, Sweden, organised by ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Legal, Financial and Administrative Issues (ICLAFI) and the Swedish Fortifications Agency of Sweden. p.100.
3) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.38-50.

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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Tissamaharama Viharaya

Tissamaharama Viharaya
Tissamaharama Viharaya (also known as Tissamaha Vihara, Tissarama) is a Buddhist temple situated in the vicinity of Tissa Wewa in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka. It is highly venerated by the Buddhist devotees as one of the sixteen sacred places in Sri Lanka where the Buddha supposed to have visited (Abeyawardana, 2004).

History
Tissamaharama Viharaya was founded by King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.) and was known as Silapassaya Pirivena (Nicholas, 1963). It is said that Prince Dutugemunu (reigned: 161-137 B.C.) made an offering at Tissamaha Vihara before setting out on his campaign against King Elara [(205-161 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963]. The chronicle Mahavamsa states that during the reign of King Ilanaga (35-44 A.D.) the Stupa was enlarged and restored (Abeyawardana, 2004). Subsequently, the Stupa was restored during the reigns of King Voharikatissa (215-237 A.D.) and King Vijayabahu I [(1055-1110A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004].

Inscriptions that mention Tissamaharama Viharaya
This temple is believed to have been recorded by the names Akuju Mahagama or Akujuka in the two inscriptions of the 2nd century A.D. discovered from Situlpawwa and Kataragama (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983; Paranavitana, 2001). An inscription by King Mahanama (406-428 A.D.) mentions this temple as Mahagama Rajamaha Vehera and it reveals that a large extent of land at Palitotugama was donated to the temple (Nicholas, 1963). In the 7th century, King Dappula (circa.659 A.D.) donated the village of Kattikapabbata to this temple (Nicholas, 1963). The Kirinda pillar inscription of Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.) mentions this temple as Tisaram-rad Mahavehera built by King Kavantissa after his own name (Ranawella, 2001). In the Kataragama-Detagamuwa inscription of King Dappula IV (923-935 A.D.) this temple has been referred to as Mahaveher (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1933).

Controversy on the Tooth Relic of the Buddha.
Some believe that the left Tooth Relic of the left jaw of the Buddha is enshrined in this Stupa (Abeyawardana, 2004). This belief became popular after the Kirinda pillar inscription of Kassapa V was discovered in 1960 at a place named Galkanda, a mile north of the Kirinda Viharaya (Ranawella, 2001). As to the reading and interpretation of this inscription by C.E. Godakumbura, the Stupa of Tissamahara Vihara has been built by Kavantissa over the relic of the left tooth of the lower jaw of the Buddha (Ranawella, 2001). However, later, by correcting some readings by Godakumbura, Dr. Ranawella pointed out that the Tissamaharama Stupa hasn't been built over the Tooth Relic of the left lower jaw of the Buddha, but actually it (the tooth relic) had been conveyed by the king for veneration during a particular ceremony of constructing a large Stupa at a place where the relics of the three former Buddhas had been enshrined (Ranawella, 2001).

Stupa
Tissamaharama can be considered as the one that started the tradition of building mega Stupas in Sri Lanka (Ranaweera, 2004). The pot-shaped Stupa is 45.9 m tall and its dome has a diameter of about 43 m (Ranaweera, 2004).

The restoration of the ancient Tissamaharama Stupa was completed in 1898 (Silva, 2007). However, several vertical cracks were noticed on the surface of the dome towards its mid-height in the 1970s (Ranaweera & Silva, 2006; Silva, 2007). In order to halt the spread of these cracks and prevent the collapse of the dome, external pre-stressing was done using circumferential stainless steel cables fixed to the dome (Ranaweera, 2004; Ranaweera & Silva, 2006; Silva, 2007).

Attribution
1) Tissamaharama Dagoba, 0648 by G41rn8 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.123-124.
2) Ranaweera, M.P., 2004. Ancient Stupas in Sri Lanka-Largest brick structures in the World. CHS Newsletter No. 70, December 2004, London, Construction History Society.
3) Ranaweera, M.P. and Silva, G., 2006. Conservation and Restoration of ancient stupas in Sri Lanka. Tenth East Asia-Pacific Conference on Structural Engineering & Construction–EASEC10. pp.1-6.
4) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.61.
5) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Kataragama inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. p.224.
6) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part I. Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. pp.95-96.
7) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.269-270.
8) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.358-362. 
9) Silva, W.N.G., 2007. Conservation of ancient dagobas in Sri Lanka. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, 40(3). pp.41-52.

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Friday, November 6, 2020

Paramakanda Viharaya

Paramakanda Viharaya
Paramakanda Viharaya is a Buddhist cave temple situated in Anamaduwa in Puttalam District, Sri Lanka. The temple complex lies on a rock outcrop popularly named Paramakanda. The famous Thonigala rock inscriptions are located about 2 km distance from this temple.

History
As the presence of several early-Brahmi inscriptions, the history of the Paramakanda temple can be dated back to the period ranging between 3rd-century B.C.-1st century A.D. Six such inscriptions have been copied and published in 1970 by renowned archaeologist S. Paranavithana (Paranavitana, 1970). Among them, three inscriptions contain non-Brahmi symbols (Paranavitana, 1970).

Also, two fragmentary inscriptions belonging to the 4th, and 7th centuries A.D. have been discovered from the temple premises (Dias, 1991). Of them, the first inscription has been incised on a rock by the side of a pool and the second one has been inscribed on a rock near the Bodhi-tree (Dias, 1991).

Temple complex
Paramakanda
The temple complex mainly comprises of two parts; the lower terrace and the upper premises. The lower terrace consists of a number of buildings and structures including the Stupa, image house, Bodhi-tree, belfry, etc. The outer wall of the image house is apparently built of wattle and plastered with clay. Sculptures and paintings belonging to the Kandyan tradition are found inside the image house. However, a new layer of painting has been added on some parts of the walls later by covering the old Kandyan era paintings.

A small image house, a Stupa, and two carved footprints of Buddha (Sri Pathula) are found at the upper temple premises. The sculptures in the image house had been destroyed recently by thieves who searched imaginary treasures inside them.

Paramakanda Viharaya Paramakanda Viharaya .
References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. p.72.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.83.

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Yala National Park

Yala National Park
Yala National Park is a national park situated in the south-eastern part of Sri Lanka. It is the oldest national park in the country.

The park consists of five blocks (Blocks I, II, III, IV, V). However, the area known as Yala comprises a contiguous system of nine national reserves including the aforesaid five blocks, Kumana National Park (Yala East), Strict Natural Reserve, and the adjoining Kataragama-Katagamuwa and Kudimbigala Sanctuaries (Buultjens et al., 2005; Jazeel, 2005).  The entire area, except the south-eastern part, is bounded by a wide buffer zone marked on the land. The south-eastern part of Yala is margined by the Indian Ocean.

Yala is partly open for the tourists. The Block I (also known as Ruhuna National Park or Yala West) with an area of 140 square km is one such part (Buultjens et al., 2005; Katugaha, 1999). It has an extensive network of motorable roads made for tourists.

History
Rohana principality
Yala overlies the former Sinhalese principality, Ruhuna, which was the refuge area for the Sinhala kings during the regnal period of the South Indian invader Elara (205-161 B.C.) who governed Anuradhapura, the capital of Sri Lanka during the 2nd century B.C. (Jazeel, 2005). Prince Dutugemunu, the deposed Sinhalese heir eventually defeated Elara and took the control of the Anuradhapura Kingdom again (Jazeel, 2005).

The park is rich with a large number of archaeological sites and some of them are Buddhist ruins belong to the period of Rohana principality. More than 50 inscriptions, most of which date from 2nd or 1st century B.C., have been found from the area (Abeyawardana, 2004). About 40 archaeological sites discovered within the Yala premises are listed below (Abeyawardana, 2004);

    1) Bambawa
    2) Magul-maha-vihara
    3) Seelawakanda
    4) Sithulpawwa
    5) Akasa Chethiya
    6) Pimbyramakanda
    7) Gonagala
    8) Modaragala
    9) Padikema & Patanangala
    10) Patanangala
    11) Anduneruwa
    12) Brakmanatota
    13) Katupila
    14) Katupilamankada
    15) Pilinnawa
    16) Uda pothana
    17) Ruins of Dagoba
    18) Minihagalkanda
    19) Pilimagala
    20) Maha pilimagala
    21) Kiriwadumahela
    22) Thalaguruhela
    23) Lunuathugalge
    24) Mayagala (Wadambuwa)
    25) Dagoba & stone column
    26) Goyankola Mayagala
    27) Dikkandanegala
    28) Veeragala
    29) Athurumituruwewa
    30) Dematagala
    31) Mandagala
    32) Mandagala Wewa
    33) Kottadamuhela
    34) Bambaragastalawa
    35) Kiripokunahela
    36) Bowattagala
    37) Nelumpathpokuna
    38) Kongala


Modern history
The Yala was established as a "Game Sanctuary" by the British in 1898 (Jazeel, 2005). It was declared as a national park (the first block) on 25 February 1938 (Buultjens et al., 2005). After that more sections (blocks) were added to the park from time to time. The last two blocks, IV and V were added to the park in 1969 and 1973 (Buultjens et al., 2005). In 1949, the park fell under the administration of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (Buultjens et al., 2005).

Presence of LTTE in the national park during the Sri Lankan civil war (1983-2009) transformed some parts of the park unprotected jungles for the visitors (Buultjens et al., 2005; Jazeel, 2005). The coastline of Yala was badly hit by the 2004 Tsunami waves (Fernando et al., 2006).

Physical features
Yala National Park
Yala is spread on a relatively flat terrain of Vijayan rocks formed over 600 million years ago and dotted with rocky outcrops reaching to heights of about 800 ft (Buultjens et al., 2005). Totally, it extends in an area of about 151,177.8 ha. (Buultjens et al., 2005). As Yala is situated in one of the arid regions of the country the area has a hot and dry climate (Buultjens et al., 2005). It receives its annual rainfall during the north-east monsoon from November to January (Buultjens et al., 2005). The dry season begins in June and lasts until mid-October (Buultjens et al., 2005). A few natural waterholes and several man-made small reservoirs in the park retain the water (De Silva et al., 1994). Also a number of seasonal streams, majorly the Menik Ganga river and the Kumbukkan Oya river drain the area (De Silva et al., 1994).

Flora & Fauna
The vegetation of Yala mainly comprises of scrub forests, grasslands, and mangroves in the lagoons that are scattered throughout the park (Buultjens et al., 2005; De Silva et al., 1994). The park is replete with fauna such as elephants, sloth bears, sambar, wild buffalo, spotted deer, wild boar, jackals, monkeys, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, mongoose, birds, etc. (Buultjens et al., 2005; Jazeel, 2005). It is also home to the highest density of leopards in the world (Buultjens et al., 2005). More than 130 species of birds such as the jungle fowl, painted stork, blue-faced malkoha, and the pompadour green pigeon have been identified in the park (Buultjens et al., 2005)

Yala National Park .
Attribution
1) YalaNationalPark-April2010-03 by Rehman is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) A watchful leopard by Sachinkaveeshafernando is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
3) Scenery in Yala National Park by Schnobby is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.130-131.
2) Buultjens, J., Ratnayake, I., Gnanapala, A. and Aslam, M., 2005. Tourism and its implications for management in Ruhuna National Park (Yala), Sri Lanka. Tourism Management, 26(5), pp.733-742.
3) De Silva, M., Dissanayake, S. and Santiapillai, C., 1994. Aspects of the population dynamics of the wild Asiatic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Ruhuna National Park, Sri Lanka. Journal of South Asian Natural History, 1(1), pp.65-76.
4) Fernando, P., Wikramanayake, E.D. and Pastorini, J., 2006. Impact of tsunami on terrestrial ecosystems of Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. Current Science, pp.1531-1534.
5) Jazeel, T., 2005. ‘Nature’, nationhood and the poetics of meaning in Ruhuna (Yala) National Park, Sri Lanka. cultural geographies, 12(2), pp.199-227.
6) Katugaha, H.I.E., de Silva, M. and Santiapillai, C., 1999. A long-term study on the dynamics of the elephant (Elephas maximus) population in Ruhuna National Park, Sri Lanka. Biological Conservation, 89(1), pp.51-59.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Ati Konanayakar Temple, Thambalagamuwa

Ati Konanayakar Temple
Ati Konanayakar Temple (also known as Aathi Koneswaram Kovil) is a Hindu shrine situated in Thambalagamuwa (Tamil: Thampalakamam) village in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple is related to the famous Koneswaram Temple at Trincomalee (Arumugam, 1991). In the 17th century, Koneswaram was threatened with demolition by the Portuguese after they assumed control over the Jaffna peninsula (Arumugam, 1991). The temple was looted in 1624, and then it was completely demolished by them in order to employ its materials for the building of the Trincomalee Fort (Navaratnam, 1998). However, the priests and the Pandaram workers of the temple escaped from this attack and some of the valuable objects (including the statues of Konainayakara and Madumai Ambal) in the temple were taken away by them to nearby Thambalagamuwa (Arumugam, 1991). According to Thiru Konesala Vaipavam, these objects were installed at a place called Kalani-malai in 1624 (Arumugam, 1991).

Some years later,  King Rajasinha II (1635-1687 A.D.) erected a proper shrine at Thambalagamuwa to house the deities taken from Koneswaram and called the new shrine the "Konanayakar Temple" (Arumugam, 1991).

Attribution
1) This image (Aathikoneswaram) has been released into the public domain by its creator, Umapathy.

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.20.
2) Navaratnam, C.S., 1998. Koneswaram: A temple of a thousand columns. North-East Sri Lanka- A compendium: 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence 1948-1998. North-East Provincial Council. pp.159-171.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Kuttam Pokuna

Kuttam Pokuna (Twin ponds)
Kuttam Pokuna (Twin Ponds) is a pair of dressed-stone pools situated near Abhayagiri Viharaya premises in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

History
The pools are believed to have been constructed during the reign of King Aggabodhi I (564-598 A.D.) for the use of the Buddhist monks of the Kapara-mula fellowship (Jayasuriya, 2016). However, some say that the smaller pool has older features than the larger pool (Wikramagamage, 2004). Therefore, they believe that these two pools were not designed and constructed at the same time (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The pools
The two pools are rectangular in shape and built lower than the ground level (Wikramagamage, 2004). One of the pools is smaller than the other and both are separated by a narrow passage. Both pools have the same width but different lengths. The dimensions are getting smaller towards the bottom of the pools. At the ground level, the length of the larger pool is 132 ft while the smaller pool is 91 ft (Jayasuriya, 2016). The width of both pools is 51 ft (Jayasuriya, 2016). Flights of steps are seen on both ends of the pool and their entrances have been decorated with Punkalas (pots of abundance) placed on lotus pedestals. The steps lead into the ponds in tiers have enabled monks to sit on them and bathe using pots or other utensils (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Both pools are still functional. In ancient times, the smaller pool was fed by a water source that came from the north and a cistern sluice (a silt trap) that purifies the water draining into the pond had been linked with it (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). The water is poured into the pond through a stone made spout (Jayasuriya, 2016).

A sculpture depicting a five hooded Naga (cobra) under the Makara Thorana (dragon arch) is found at the pool premises and it is considered as a masterpiece (Wikramagamage, 2004). It is assumed by the scholars that in ancient times there was a belief among the locals that the divine Nagas have a connection with water (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Therefore, ancient people may have had tended to erect a figure of Naga near the water systems they built. Sculptures depicting Nagas have been found near many ancient reservoirs, and ponds in Sri Lanka (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004).

Conservation
The ponds were excavated by the Department of Archaeology under the guidance of Prof. Senarath Paranavitana (Jayasuriya, 2016). During the excavations, a metal pot containing some objects such as the figures of a frog, tortoise, crab, a couple of fish, and a metal conch was discovered (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Kuttam Pokuna (Twin ponds) Kuttam Pokuna (Twin ponds) Kuttam Pokuna (Twin ponds) .
Attribution
1) Twin ponds (Kuttam Pokuna) by Kondephy is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) Kuttam Pokuna 06 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
3) Sri Lanka Photo022 by Psychoslave is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
4) SL Anuradhapura asv2020-01 img29 Kuttam Pokuna by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.31-32.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.110-111. 

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Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park
Kaudulla National Park is a national park situated in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka. The ancient Kaudulla Reservoir is located on the fringe of the national park and presently, the bed area of that reservoir is attractive among the visitors where hundreds of elephants could be seen gathered in the dry season (Rathnayake,& Gunawardena, 2014)

The Kaudulla forest area was declared as a national park on 1 April 2002 in order to protect the immediate catchment of the Kaudulla Reservoir and to provide a refuge or habitat for wild elephants, especially in the monsoon period (Rathnayake,& Gunawardena, 2014).

Physical features
Situated in the Dry Zone of the country, the park extends in an area of about 6690 ha (De Mel & Yakandawala, 2016; Rathnayake,& Gunawardena, 2014). The area receives an annual rainfall ranging between 1,500 to 2,000 mm mainly from the north-east monsoon (De Mel & Yakandawala, 2016; Mahesha & Rajnish, 2020). The park experiences two marked seasons, wet and dry and the average temperature varies between 20-35 °C (De Mel & Yakandawala, 2016; Mahesha & Rajnish, 2020). The wet period persists from January to April and the dry period persists from June to September (De Mel & Yakandawala, 2016).

The vegetation of the area consists of tropical dry mixed evergreen forests, grasslands, and riverine forests (Mahesha & Rajnish, 2020).

References
1) De Mel, L.M.S. and Yakandawala, K., 2016. Diversity and Abundance of Butterfly Fauna at the Kaudulla National Park. International Journal of Novel Research in Life Sciences. Vol. 3, Issue 2. ISSN 2394-966X. pp:1-10.
2) Mahesha, P. and Rajnish, V., 2020. Some aspects of seed dispersal by Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka. Current Science (00113891), 118(4) .pp.648-654.
3) Rathnayake, R.M.W. and Gunawardena, U.A.D.P., 2014. Enjoying elephant watching: a study on social carrying capacity of Kawdulla National Park in Sri Lanka. Sabaragamuwa University Journal, 12(1). pp.23-39.

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Monday, November 2, 2020

Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is a national park situated in the central highlands of Sri Lanka.

Location
Situated in the south of the Nuwara Eliya District, it forms a plateau in the south-eastern corner of the main ridge of Sri Lanka's central mountain massif (Rathnayake, 2015). It is the highest and largest plateau land located at an elevation ranging from 1,800 to 2,389 m above sea level, with a plateau starting from about 2,100 m above sea level (Chandrajith et al., 2009; Green, 1990). The Kirigalpotta (2398 m) and Thotupola (2351 m), the second and third highest mountain peaks in Sri Lanka are also located west and north of the Horton Plains respectively (Green, 1990; Premathilake, 2012). The area receives an annual rainfall ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 mm and has an average temperature varies between 5-27°C (Chandrajith et al., 2009).

Geology
The bedrock of the Horton Plains was formed during the Archaean and it mainly consists of highly metamorphic rocks belonging to the charnokite-meta sedimentary series, largely garne-tiferous gneisses, quartz and granulites (Premathilake & Risberg, 2003). An organic-rich soil layer covers the bedrock up to a height of about 1m (Premathilake & Risberg, 2003).

History
A pre-historic site
Evidence is there to prove that the area was occasionally inhabited by a prehistoric human population between 14,000 and 3000 14C years BP (Premathilake & Epitawatta, 2001; Premathilake & Nilsson, 2001). The first indications of human impact in Horton Plains are dated to around 14,000 BP, and reflecting forest clearance and grazing (Premathilake & Epitawatta, 2001). Stone tools associated with the Balangoda culture of prehistoric times have been identified in the area (Green, 1990; Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006). The studies done by scholars have revealed possible evidence of cultivated rice (Oryza sp.) in Horton Plains around 13,000 B.C. and again between 8300 and 6500 B.C. (Premathilake, 2006) Evidence on the cultivation of Avena sp. (oat) and Hordeum sp. (barley) in around 11,000 B.C. have also been found (Premathilake, 2006).

Recent past
The plains has been named after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, the British governor of Ceylon from 1831 to 1837 (Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006). It is said that there was a meeting on the plains between him and the Ratè Mahatteya (a chieftain) of Sabaragamuwa in 1836 (Green, 1990; Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006).

Between 1831 and independence in 1948, Horton Plains became hunting grounds for sambar and, to a lesser extent, elephant and wild boar (Green, 1990). Then, it remained largely intact until 1961, when the government decided to convert part of the grasslands into a potato farm under the Department of Agriculture (Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006). About half of the open plains were under potato cultivation by 1977, but, with the pressure that arisen from the conservationists, the scheme was finally abandoned (Green, 1990; Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006). However, this caused some irreparable damages to the value of the site (Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006)

To the World Heritage Site list
Horton Plains was first established as a Nature Reserve on 5 December 1969, and then upgraded to a National Park on 16 March 1988 (Green, 1990; Pethiyagoda & Gunatilleke, 2006; Premathilake, 2012; Rathnayake, 2015). In 2010, it was included to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as a part of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (UNESCO Ref: 1203) .

Super Bio-diversity Hotspot
Hortan Plains
Horton Plains is considered one of the most important montane ecosystems in the country (Chandrajith et al., 2009). Extending in an area of about 3162 ha,, it comprises of pigmy, open & dense forests, streams & waterfalls, hilltops, grassy slopes, precipices, grasslands, marshes, etc. (Chandrajith et al., 2009; Premathilake & Risberg, 2003; Premathilake, 2012; Rathnayake, 2015). It is a super biodiversity hotspot with exceptional endemism and most of the fauna and flora found here are endemic to the country (Chandrajith et al., 2009; Rathnayake, 2015). The vegetation consists of upper montane rain forests and grasslands (Premathilake & Nilsson, 2001). Totally, 57 woody species belonging to 31 families have been encountered whereof 50% of the plant species identified in the area are only found in Sri Lanka (Premathilake & Nilsson, 2001; Premathilake & Risberg, 2003). The Horton Plains is the headwaters of major rivers in the country such as the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe (Green, 1990; Premathilake, 2012).

Forest die-back
Forest dieback is one of the major threats faces by the Horton Plains (Chandrajith et al., 2009). It was observed that 17.2% of forested areas in the national park has been subjected to severe dieback (Ranawana, 1999). Although some factors have been identified, no conclusive evidence has been found yet on the etiology of the die-back of forests (Chandrajith et al., 2009).

Tourism
Horton Plains is a popular tourist destination. Visitors are allowed to walk in the park along two nature trails; the Baker's fall (6 km) and the World's End (4km). The red-bridge, chimney pool, Baker's fall, Small and Greater World's Ends are the most attractive places found in the Horton Plains (Rathnayake, 2015).

Red Bridge: The bridge at the beginning of the Baker's fall trail is called the "Red-bridge". The stream that flows beneath the bridge constitutes the uppermost reaches of the Belihul Oya, a tributary of the Walawe Ganga River (Rathnayake, 2015).
Chimney Pool: This is a man-made water body that resembles the shape of a chimney-lamp.
Baker's Fall: An attractive waterfall of about 20m tall.
Small & Great World' Ends: Situated at the southern boundary of the Horton Plains, these two precipices are locally called the Punchi Lokanthaya (the Small World's End) and the Maha Lokanthaya (the Greater World's End). The two locations are situated about 0.8 km away from each other.

Horton Plains National Park .
References
1) Chandrajith, R., Koralegedara, N., Ranawana, K.B., Tobschall, H.J. and Dissanayake, C.B., 2009. Major and trace elements in plants and soils in Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka: an approach to explain forest die back. Environmental geology, 57(1), pp.17-28.
2) Green, M.J.B. ed., 1990. IUCN directory of South Asian protected areas. IUCN. pp.216-220.
3) Pethiyagoda, R. and Gunatilleke, C.V.S., 2006. Horton Plains. International Field Biology Course 2006. Center for Tropical Forest Science – Arnold Arboretum Asia Program, University of Peradeniya & Forest Department Sri Lanka. pp.25-26.
4) Premathilake, R., 2006. The emergence of early agriculture in the Horton Plains, central Sri Lanka: linked to late Pleistocene and early Holocene climatic changes. In First Farmers in Global Perspective” Conference.
5)Premathilake, R., 2012. Human used upper montane ecosystem in the Horton Plains, central Sri Lanka–a link to Lateglacial and early Holocene climate and environmental changes. Quaternary Science Reviews, 50, pp.23-42.
6) Premathilake, R. and Nilsson, S., 2001. Pollen morphology of endemic species of the Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka. Grana, 40(6), pp.256-279.
7) Premathilake, T.R. and Epitawatta, D.S., 2001. Late Quaternary Vegetation, Climate and Land-use History of the Horton Plains, Central Sri Lanka. Vidyodaya J. of Sci. (2001) Vol. 10. pp.1-20
8) Premathilake, R. and Risberg, J., 2003. Late Quaternary climate history of the Horton plains, central Sri Lanka. Quaternary Science Reviews, 22(14), pp.1525-1541.
9) Ranawana, K.B., 1999. Damage by herbivores, seedling regeneration and extent of die back. Final report-Horton Plains forest die back research project, University of Peradeniya, pp 123–145.
10) Rathnayake, R.M.W., 2015. How does ‘crowding’ affect visitor satisfaction at the Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka?. Tourism Management Perspectives, 16, pp.129-138.

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This page was last updated on 2 November 2020
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