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.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Mahamaya Girls' College, Kandy

Mahamaya Girls' College is a government girls' school situated in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

History
The establishment of Mahamaya College as the first Buddhist school for women in Kandy was initiated with the guidance of Karandana Attadassi Thera, Sarah Soyza and the founding members of the Kulangana Samithiya, a movement led by women. The school was opened with 16 girls as Bauddha Balika Vidyalaya on 14 January 1932 by Leuke Rathwatte Kumarihami at the West Cliff House that had been bought from Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) together with 2.5 acres of land adjoining it that belonged to Arthur Fernando (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Hilda Westbrook Kularathne was the first principal from 1932 to 1933. In 1938, the name of the school was changed to Mahamaya and in 1960 it was taken over by the government (Abeyawardana, 2004). It was upgraded to the status of National School in 1982.

Facilities
At present, the school has common facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries, playground, swimming pool etc. Classes are conducted for girl students from grade 1 to grade 13
 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.24-25.
 
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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Kandy Pillaiyar Kovil

Katukele Pillaiyar Kovil is a Hindu shrine situated near Kandy Police Station in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to God Ganesha, one of the most venerated deities in the Hindu pantheon.

Folklore
Although the history of this shrine is obscure, locals link it to the time of Kandyan kings. It is said that the royal washerman of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1798-1815 A.D.) who had been using the watercourse originating from Bahiravakanda situated behind the Kovil had a dream in which he was advised by God Iswara to build a temple at the present site (Abeyawardana, 2004). The washerman communicated this to the landlord, Arunasalam Ramanathan Chettiar who finally informed this to the king (Abeyawardana, 2004). It is said that the king ordered him to build a temple at the site (Abeyawardana, 2004). However, some folks link this story to King Kirti Sri Rajasinha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004].

The Kovil is maintained by the descendants of the Chettiyar family (Abeyawardana, 2004). A procession is started from this shrine every year after the water-cutting ceremony at the end of the Esala Buddhist festival (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.17.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sivali Central College, Ratnapura

Sivali Central College is a government mixed school situated in Hidellana in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. It is considered as the first Central College in the district.

History
The school was established in 1909 as a Buddhist Secondary School unconnected to any monastery in a small house in Ratnapura town with 15 students (Abeyawardana, 2002). Mahanuwara Senewiratne was the first principal of the school from 1909 to 1914. In 1925 the incumbent of Nadun Viharaya offered the property Sivali garden to the school and in 1935 it became a graded school and was renamed as Sivali College. After the school was upgraded to the status of a Central Collage in 1945, the school was shifted to the present location in Hidellana in 1955 (Abeyawardana, 2002). On 5 February 1992, it was upgraded to the status of a National School.

Facilities
At present, the school has common facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries, play-ground, indoor stadium, hostel for students and quarters for teachers. The Annual Big Match of the school is held every year against St. Aloysius College, Ratnapura.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7.  pp.15-16.
 
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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Beligala

Beligala is a mountain with the ruins of an ancient fortress situated in Beligala village in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

History
As mentioned in chronicles, King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 A.D.) of Dambadeniya built a fortress on the Billaselapabbata (Beligala) mountain to deposit the Tooth and Bowl Relics of the Buddha safe during the turbulent period after the fall of Polonnaruwa Kingdom (Abeyawardana, 2002; Nicholas, 1963). The ruins of this ancient fortress still found on the Beligala mountain located in close proximity to the present Beligala Viharaya.

Beligala fortress
Beligala rock is nearly 300 m high and inaccessible on all sides except on the northeast (De Silva, 1990). A rock-cut flight of steps facilitates one to ascend the rock and there is a cave (about 16 m deep by 4.5 m wide) named Mura-ge (guard house) on the half way up (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). The remains of a stone rampart, broken pillars and steps which appear to have been a gateway is found after the Mura-ge cave (De Silva, 1990). Beyond that, there is a flat space about 45 m by 20 m and the path way goes round to the summit to the south side where most probably the palace of the king was situated (De Silva, 1990).

The summit of the rock is split into two by a chasm about 6 m deep and 5 m broad (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). It had been connected through a bridge and the Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth Relic) is believed to have stood on this part of the rock (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). Remains of the pillared buildings, stones, ponds, and caves are found scattered through out the summit of the rock.

Although there are not much architectural remains of artistic value is found, Beligala takes rank with the Fortress at Yapahuwa (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990).

A protected site
The remains of ancient structures and inscriptions scattered on Beligala mountain in the Divisional Secretary Division of Warakapola are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 28 December 1973. 

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7.  pp.62-63.
2) Bell, H.C.P., 1904. Report on the Kegalle District of the Province of Sabaragamuwa. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: XIX-1892. Government Press, Sri Lanka. pp.25-28.
3) De Silva, N., 1990. Sri Lankan architecture during the period 1200-1500 A.D.. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.78.
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.124.
5) The government gazette notification, no: 92. 28 December 1973.
 
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Monday, December 27, 2021

Alawatura Ganegoda Viharaya

Alawatura Ganegoda Viharaya
Alawatura Ganegoda Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Alawathura village in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. It is the only rock-cut Buddhist temple found in the district.

History
Dharmakirthi Sthavira, the builder of Gadaladeniya Viharaya (14th century) is said to have lived at Alawatura Viharaya before he moved over to Gampola (De Silva, 1990). Contemporary literary works such as Saddharma Ratnakaraya and Parami Satakaya mention that Dharmakirthi Sthavira was involved in religious works at Sri Dhanyakataka (India), Alawatura and Gadaladeniya (De Silva, 1990).

The temple is mentioned in the "Nampotha", an ancient Sinhalese text that lists the principal Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka during the 15th century (Bell, 1904). 

The cave temple
As in the case of Ridi Viharaya, the cave temple at Alawatura Viharaya has also been erected on a stone-faced platform built against an overhanging cliff (De Silva, 1990). It has mainly two sections, viz: the inner porch and the outer Mandapa. The inner porch is 4.3 m wide and 6.1 m long while the outer Mandapa is 5 m in width and 6.5 m in length (De Silva, 1990).

There are two entrances to the cave temple. Of them, the chief entrance is decorated with elaborately carved Gajasinha balustrades which closely resemble those at Yapahuwa and Kappagoda Viharaya (Bell, 1904). The stylobate of the outer Mandapa is moulded in Cyma reversa with upper and lower Padma (lotus leaf) and Kumuda [(torus) Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990]. The door frame at the chief entrance is 1.8 m tall and 0.9 m wide and is shallowly carved with water-leaf beveling (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). The front wall made of clay and stones reached up to the rock surface above while the right side of the cave shrine is bounded by a short wall (Bell, 1904). The roof is tiled and the front section of the inner porch are several stone pillars holding 13 horizontal stone slabs (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). 

There is a stone-cut seated Buddha statue (1 m by 0.8 m) inside the shrine (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). The wall behind the statue is decorated with a clay Makara Torana (dragon arch) and the statues of God Visnu, Saman, Natha are found stand out against the right wall (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). The left wall is adorned with murals depicting Buddhist themes such as Sat-sathiya (the first seven weeks after the enlightenment). Some renewal of ornamentation have been done in the shrine in 1886 by a low-country adventurer (Bell, 1904).

According to scholars, the Mandapa of this cave shrine shows Dravidian architecture (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990). The forms of pillars and stylobate are found at many temples in South India such as in Conjivaram, Vellore, Vijayanagara etc (Bell, 1904; De Silva, 1990).

Inscription
On one of the stones of the temple is a short inscription mentioning a grant to the temple is Ganegoda village bounded on the east Yakgala, west by the Ela, south by Panelugala, north by Puwakgolla and Ela (Bell, 1904). Although it has been dated in Saka Year 1103 (1181 A.D.), H.C.P. Bell has identified this inscription as a forgery (Bell, 1904).
.
References
1) Bell, H.C.P., 1904. Report on the Kegalle District of the Province of Sabaragamuwa. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: XIX-1892. Government Press, Sri Lanka. pp.17,33-35,76.
2) De Silva, N., 1990. Sri Lankan architecture during the period 1200-1500 A.D.. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.86-87.

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Madulsima

Madulsima
Madulsima is a mountainous village situated in Badulla District of Sri Lanka. The area is popular among tourists for hiking and camping and the Madulsima Mini World’s End is one of their famous hiking spots.
 
The Mini World's End is located at the end of a tea plantation named Roeberry Estate near Passara. A panoramic view of Uva Province extending up to the Eastern Province can be obtained from the site. With an abyss of about 1,250 ft., the highest part of the mountain belongs to Roeberry Estate while the lower part to the Dorapoda. The surrounding mountains are usually covered in mist. The views of Badulla, Passara, Monaragala, Senanayaka Samudraya, Mapakanda Wewa, Ampara, Batticaloa, Sorabora Wewa, Ulhitiya Wewa, Mahiyanganaya, Nagadeepa Wewa, Karagahawela, Dehigala Division, Meegahakivula and Kandy can be obtained through the valley.

Attribution
1) Madolsima by Janithapraneeth is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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Saturday, December 25, 2021

Umandawa Global Buddhist Village

Umandawa Global Buddhist Village
Umandawa Global Buddhist Village or Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery is a modern religious place in Madahapola village near Malsiripura town in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. It is maintained under a controversial yellow-robed monk named Siri Samantha Badra who represents himself as an Arhat (an awakened one).
 
A non-profit organization
The Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery functions as a Buddhist Monastery and a non-profit organization, which is registered under the brand name "Umandawa  Maha  Vihara  Monastery" and the company name "Siri Sadaham Ashramaya" which is based in Dehiwala, Colombo (Thilakarathne, 2021). 
 
Siri Sadaham Ashramaya
Siri Sadaham Ashramaya was established in  2004  by the monk Siri Samantha Badra to disseminate  Dhamma for practical and spiritual benefits for the development of people (Thilakarathne, 2021). Since then, it has been the hub for many followers such as monks, nuns, volunteers, and donors of his teachings. Presently, Siri Sadaham Ashramaya is led by Siri Samantha Badra and an executive committee (Thilakarathne, 2021). Every member of this committee is a paid member and it is the body where most of the fundraising, administration and marketing activities of this company are carried out (Thilakarathne, 2021). 

Establishment of Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery
As an idea of Siri Samantha Badra and his followers, Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery was established as the second monastery of Siri Sadaham Ashramaya (Thilakarathne, 2021).

Presently, the community of Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery lives in an area of about 70 acres owned and administered by the community itself (Thilakarathne, 2021). The land was purchased in December 2015 with the financial support of a Buddhist monk (now deceased) and many other donors (Thilakarathne, 2021). The community consists of about 100 inhabitants, including monks, nuns, resident volunteers, donors, and retired members (Thilakarathne, 2021).

References
1) Thilakarathne, C.D., 2021. The role of adaptive capacity in supporting resilient livelihoods: an asset-based approach at Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery, Sri Lanka (Master's thesis, Norwegian University of Life Sciences). pp.8,38-39.

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Diyasen Paya

Diyasen Paya
Diyasen Paya is an ancient Uposathagara (a chapter house) located in the premises of the Monastery of Jetavanarama in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

History
This is believed to be the chapter house built by King Mahinda IV [(956-972 A.D.) Wikramagamage, 2004]. The Abhayagiri Slab Inscription of Mahinda IV states that he built a chapter house named Diyasen at Dena Vehera [(Jetavanarama Monastery) Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2004; Wickremasinghe, 1912]. It was used by Buddhist monks for the ceremony of confession and for the performance of various Sangha-Kammas such as meditation, and discussion of religious texts (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The edifice
The edifice has the remains of 176 gigantic stone pillars indicating that it was a multi-storied building (Jayasuriya, 2016). The upper floors of it may have been used for residential purposes. The ground plan of the building is very much similar to that of the Ratnaprasada, the chapter house of Abhayagiri Monastery but it is comparatively small (Wikramagamage, 2004).

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.44.
2) 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.143. 
3) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. pp.245-252.
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.136-137.
6) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon. Vol. I. London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.213-229. 

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Batadomba Lena

Not to be confused with Batatota Lena

Batadomba Lena
Batadomba Lena Cave is a prehistoric rock shelter situated in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. It preserves evidence for the presence of H. sapiens foragers in the rain forest of southern Sri Lanka from ca. 36,000 cal BP onwards to the end of the Pleistocene (Perera et al., 2011).

The cave
Batadomba-lena is a small, northeast-facing rock shelter on the steep banks of a stream on the foothills of Sri Pada (Perera et al., 2011). Situated 460 m above sea level, it falls within the Wet  Zone, which has an annual rainfall of c. 2200–4000 mm (Perera et al., 2016). The cave measures approximately 15 m high, 18 m wide, and 25 m in length, totalling the internal cave area to 6,800 m2 (Sumanarathna et al., 2016).

Besides the main cave, there is a cluster of small caves (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Excavations
Batadomba-lena is one of the most intensively researched prehistoric sites in Sri Lanka (Perera et al., 2016). Long inhabited by solitary Buddhist monks, the cave was first investigated from 1937 to 1940 by P.E.P. Deraniyagala who reported it as a Late Pleistocene-Holocene site of the Mesolithic Balangoda Culture (Abeyawardana, 2002; Kennedy & Deraniyagala, 1989; Perera et al., 2011). More systematic excavations were carried out at the site by the Department of Archaeology under S.U. Deraniyagala (1979-1986) and, in 2005, Nimal Perera (Perera et al., 2011).

Findings
Fragmentary and charred skeletal remains of more than 16 robust H. sapiens individuals of both sexes and of ages ranging from childhood to mature adulthood have been unearthed from the site (Kennedy & Deraniyagala, 1989; Perera et al., 2011). These remains were found in association with abundant material culture and animal and vegetable remain in Late Pleistocene habitation layers and these have been interpreted as fractional burials (Perera et al., 2011).

The excavations done during the period 1980-1982, confirmed the Late to Terminal Pleistocene age of the site, with most reliable dates falling in the period from ca. 30-27,000 BP onwards (Perera et al., 2011). A total of 173 bone tools were also found throughout the layers during these excavations (Perera et al., 2016).

Attribution

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.11.
2) Kennedy, K.A. and Deraniyagala, S.U., 1989. Fossil remains of 28,000-year-old hominids from Sri Lanka. Current Anthropology, 30(3), pp.394-399.
3) Perera, N., Kourampas, N., Simpson, I.A., Deraniyagala, S.U., Bulbeck, D., Kamminga, J., Perera, J., Fuller, D.Q., Szabó, K. and Oliveira, N.V., 2011. People of the ancient rainforest: Late Pleistocene foragers at the Batadomba-lena rockshelter, Sri Lanka. Journal of human evolution, 61(3), pp.254-269.
4) Perera, N., Roberts, P. and Petraglia, M., 2016. Bone technology from late Pleistocene caves and rockshelters of Sri Lanka. In Osseous Projectile Weaponry . Springer, Dordrecht. pp. 173-188.
5) Sumanarathna, A.R., Madurapperuma, B., Kuruppuarachchi, J., Katupotha, J., Abeywardhana, S.M.K. and Jayasinghe, P., 2016. Morphological variation and speciation of acavidae family: a case study from fossil and living species of Batadombalena cave pre-historic site in Sri Lanka. Annals of Valahia University of Targoviste. Geographical Series (2016), 16(2). pp.59-68.
 
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Kekuna Ella Falls, Lankagama

Kekuna Ella Falls
Kekuna Ella Falls is a waterfall situated in Sinharaja Forest Reserve near the border of Galle-Matara Districts, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached via the Sinharaja Pitadeniya entrance. The fall is 10 m tall and originates from Aranuwa stream, a tributary of Gin Ganga river. It occurs 276 meters above sea level.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Malwathu Oya

Malwathu Oya
Malwathu Oya (ancient Kadamba Nadi) is a perennial river in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. 

The river originates from Ritigala Hills (766 m MSL) in the North Central Province and after travelling about 162 km, it eventually empties into the Indian Ocean at Arippu in Mannar District (Thiruvarudchelvan & Sivakumar, 2019). 
 
History
Malwathu Oya is mentioned in chronicles such as Mahavamsa as Kadamba Nadi [(Kalamba or Kolom Oya) Nicholas, 1963]. King Vasabha (67-111 A.D.) is said to have improved a temple named Kalambatitha or Gal-ambatitha Viharaya which was on the bank of the Malwathu Oya (Nicholas, 1963). King Moggallana II (531-551 A.D.) built a tank named Pattapasana Wewa (probably Nachchaduwa Wewa) by damming the Malwathu Oya (Nicholas, 1963).

River basin
The Malwathu Oya river basin extending in an area of about 3,284 km2 is the second-largest catchment among the river basins in Sri Lanka (Dahanayake & Rajapakse, 2019). About 70% of the upper catchment of it is located in the Anuradhapura District while the lower catchment is located in Vavuniya and Mannar Districts (Thiruvarudchelvan & Sivakumar, 2019). Mainly the river basin is used for irrigation, water supply and other diversions in the North Central Province (Dahanayake & Rajapakse, 2019). The basin is augmented by adjacent Kala Oya basin from Kala Wewa via Yoda Ela channel to feed Nachchaduwa Wewa, Tissa Wewa and Abhaya Wewa reservoirs (Dahanayake & Rajapakse, 2019).

References
1) Dahanayake, A.C. and Rajapakse, R.L.H.L., 2019, July. Water quality deterioration in the malwathu oya basin, Sri Lanka and the need for physics-based modelling. In 2019 Moratuwa Engineering Research Conference (MERCon) IEEE. pp.308-313
2) 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.158,168.
3) Thiruvarudchelvan, T. and Sivakumar, S., 2019. Operational Policy of the Reservoirs in Malwathu Oya River Basin to Minimize Flood Damages in Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Mannar Districts in Northern Sri Lanka. GSJ, 2, pp.39-48.

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Hiriwadunna Viharaya

Hiriwadunna Viharaya
Hiriwadunna Viharaya (also known as  Hiriwadunna Sri Bodhiraja Aranya Senasanaya) is Buddhist temple situated in Hiriwadunna village in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. Several ruins of ancient structures are found scattered in the temple premises. The ancient Hiriwadunna Wewa built by King Vasabha (67-111 A.D.) is located near the temple site.

The temple gained the attention of the public recently when a group of people tried to promote the Bodhi tree of this site as the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. They showed a stone artifact that partially emerged through the roots of the Bodhi tree as the Vajrasana of the Buddha on which he had sat while attaining enlightenment. 
 
However, this misleading propaganda was heavily criticized by the country's archaeologists and historians who finally proved through excavation that the stone was not the Vajrasana of the Buddha but an ancient flower altar used to worship the Bodhi tree. It was decided to rebury that artifact as the removal of it from its original location could damage the weak root system of the old Bodhi tree.
 
Attribution
1) Bo tree(Asathu) by VKareendra is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
 
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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Located in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the country's last viable area of the primary tropical rain forest. Presently, UNESCO has declared it as one of the World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.

World Heritage Site: Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Location : Sabaragamuwa & Southern Provinces, Sri Lanka 
Coordinates : N6 25 0 E80 30 0
Date of Inscription : 1988
Criteria :    (ix) Sinharaja is the last remaining relatively undisturbed remnant of tropical humid evergreen forest in Sri Lanka. The property’s flora is a relic of Gondwanaland and provides an important component to our scientific understanding of continental drift and an outstanding site for the study of the processes of biological evolution. A geological feature of considerable interest is the presence of the Sinharaja basic zone, with the reserve located within the transition zone of two important rock types characteristic of Sri Lanka; the south-western group and the highland group
                   (x) Endemism within the property is extremely high. Protecting the last viable remnant of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rainforest, Sinharaja is home to at least 139 endemic plant species within two main types of forest: remnants of Dipterocarpus in the valleys and on the lower slopes, and secondary forest and scrub where the original forest cover has been removed. Sixteen of the endemic plant species within the property are considered rare, including endemic palms Loxococcus rupicola and Atalantia rotundifolia.
Faunal endemism is also high, particularly for mammals, birds and butterflies, exceeding 50%. Nineteen (95%) of Sri Lanka’s 20 endemic birds are present in the property, which is also home to leopard and Indian elephant, both of which are threatened species
Reference: 405; Sinharaja Forest Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, United Nations.

The forest
Sinharaja is considered the least disturbed and the most extensive patch of lowland rain forest (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). In Sinhalese, the word Sinharaja means "lion king" and perhaps it refers to the original king-sized royal forest of the Sinhalese, a people of the legendary lion race who constitute more than 70 % of the present-day Sri Lankan population (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990).

Only half percent of the original area of approximately 100,000 ha of the Sinharaja group of forests remain today (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). The forest cover, even in most of the remnants is now fragmented (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). The present Sinharaja forest reserve covers 11,187 ha and is the least fragmented patch of the Sinharaja group of forests (Alwis et al., 2016; Samarawickrama et al., 2019). The forest spreads into three administrative districts, viz. Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.
 
Around the periphery of the reserve, a 3 km wide buffer zone has been established to reduce resource demands on the reserve and to help prevent human encroachment (Wijesooriya & Gunatilleke, 2003). The reserve is accessible via three main entrances and opens to the public throughout the year, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
 
To the state of World Heritage
Sinharaja remained inaccessible even after Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948. However, the first road was built into the forest from Veddagala, a village north of the reserve in 1963 to open a jeep track for scientific explorations (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). In 1971, without considering the opposition from nature lovers and scientists, mechanized logging of the forest was begun but it was abandoned in 1972 (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). However, logging was again started in 1974 on a limited scale but it was totally abandoned in 1977 (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). During the period between 1972 and 1977, 1,400 ha of the western portion of the reserve was selectively logged to supply plywood and up to 60% of the canopy was opened for the logging activity (Gunawardene et al., 2010).
 
By the late 1970s, the forest had gained recognition nationally and internationally as an important site of natural habitats. In 1978, Sinharaja was designated as a biosphere reserve and maintained as a part of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990; Kankanamge Epa & Mohotti, 2016). In October 1988, the reserve together with a northeastern extension was named as the country's first National Wilderness Heritage Area and in December in the same year, it became Sri Lanka's first natural site to be added to UNESCO's World Heritage list (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990; Surasinghe, 2007).
 
Presently, the reserve is considered a hotspot of biodiversity along with the Western  Ghats (India), because of its biogeographic value and high species endemism with restricted distribution (Surasinghe, 2007; Wijesooriya & Gunatilleke, 2003).
 
Characteristics
The wet zone of Sri Lanka comprises about 23 % of the 65,610 km2 area of the island and its forests are characterized by a high concentration of endemic species (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990). When it considers with Sinharaja, about 70 % of the known species of woody trees and lianas, ferns and epiphytes as well as about  95 % of the birds in Sinharaja are endemic to the country (Ishwaran & Erdelen, 1990).

Sinharaja is a mid-elevation rain forest (300–1200 m a.s.l.), set upon a series of ridges running in an east-west direction in the south-western quarter of the country (Gunawardene et al., 2010). Annual rainfall in Sinharaja ranges between 4,000 and 5,000 mm and the average monthly temperature varies between 22 and 28 °C (Alwis et al., 2016; Gunawardene et al., 2010). The main forest type in the reserve is mixed dipterocarp forest, ubiquitous throughout the Asian tropics (Gunawardene et al., 2010). Major streams draining into Kalu Ganga and Gin Ganga rivers originate from the Sinharaja rain forest (Kankanamge Epa & Mohotti, 2016).
Sinharaja Forest Reserve Sinharaja Forest Reserve .
References
1) Alwis, N.S., Perera, P. and Dayawansa, N.P., 2016. Response of tropical avifauna to visitor recreational disturbances: a case study from the Sinharaja World Heritage Forest, Sri Lanka. Avian Research, 7(1), pp.1-13.
2) Gunawardene, N.R., Majer, J.D. and Edirisinghe, J.P., 2010. Investigating residual effects of selective logging on ant species assemblages in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka. Forest Ecology and Management, 259(3), pp.555-562.
3) Ishwaran, N. and Erdelen, W., 1990. Conserving Sinharaja: An experiment in sustainable development in Sri Lanka. Ambio, pp.237-244.
4) Kankanamge Epa, U.P. and Mohotti, C.R.W.C., 2016. Impact of fishing with Tephrosia candida (Fabaceae) on diversity and abundance of fish in the streams at the boundary of Sinharaja Man and Biosphere Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka. Revista de biologia tropical, 64(3), pp.1129-1141.
5) Samarawickrama V.A.M.P.K, Kumara, H.I.G.C. and Samarawickrama, D.R.N.S., 2019. Diversity of Reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja Rain Forest. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment, 9(1). pp.37-47.
6) Senaratne, A., Abeygunawardena, P. and Jayatilake, W., 2003. Changing role of non-timber forest products (NTFP) in rural household economy: the case of Sinharaja World Heritage site in Sri Lanka. Environmental Management, 32(5), pp.559-571.
7) Surasinghe, T.D., 2007. Conservation overview of herpetofauna of Sinharaja man and biosphere reserve of Sri Lanka. ZOOS'PRINT Journal, 22(1), pp.2535-2538.
8) Wijesooriya, W.A.D.A. and Gunatilleke, C.V.S., 2003. Buffer zone of the Sinharaja biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka and its management strategies. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 31(1-2). pp.57-71.

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Kathaluwa Walawwa

Kathaluwa Walawwa (also known as Atadahewatta Walawwa or Atadagewatta Walawwa or Kataluwa Maha Walawwa) is a historic Walawwa building located near Kataluwa Railway Station in Galle District, Sri Lanka.

History
Originally built in around 1625, the Walawwa was the ancestral home of the J.P. Obeysekara family and then the members of the Jayawardane family (Abeyawardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Don Owen Ferdinandez, the ancestor of Obeyesekara family who belonged to a Portuguese family in Europe, came to Ceylon and bought the land in Kataluwa and constructed a Walawwa, which was later known as Atadahe Walawwa since he grew 8,000 coconut plants on the land where the house was erected (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).
 
The Walawwa was renovated and modified in 1944 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). It at one time functioned as Court House to hear cases at Talpe Pattu in Galle District. Some parts of the building were partially damaged due to the Tsunami disaster in 2004. Presently the building is used as a hotel.

The building
The building is considered a good specimen of the colonial architecture of the 18th to 19th centuries (Abeyawardana, 2004). The front verandah of the building consists of an inner row of wooden columns and an outer facade with masonry arches (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The large doors, windows and inner courtyard are considered architectural features of the colonial period.

A protected monument
The Kathauwa Atadage Walawwa and its boundary wall in Kathaluwa East Grama Niladhari Division in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Habaraduwa are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 July 2007.
 
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.34-35.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.140.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1505. 6 July 2007. p.549.
 
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Friday, December 17, 2021

Bomburu Ella Falls

Bomburu Ella Falls
Bomburu Ella Falls is a waterfall situated in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka. Originated from the Uma Oya, the fall is considered one of the widest falls in the country. The waterfall cascades through a few segments and a nice view of it can be obtained from the ground near the falls. The fall can be reached after about 2 km of a hike.

There is folklore on the formation of the name Bomburu. It is said that the royal tusker of King Rajasinha II (1635-1687 A.D.) once went into the woods after breaking its chain. No mahout was capable of catching the tusker and therefore, the king made an announcement that anyone who could able to catch and tame the tusker would be granted a gift. An elderly person named Wanasinha Mutta finally succeeded in catching the tusker and he had tied it to a root of a Bo tree. Since it was a root of a Bo tree, the people began to call the village as Bo-mule which later became Bombure.
Bomburu Ella Falls
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Attribution
1) Bomburu ella falls by Buddhika.jm is licensed under CC BY 3.0
2) Bomburu Falls -Sri Lanka by Buddhima Prabath is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Katuaththamada Ambalama

Katuaththamada Ambalama
Katuaththamada Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

The Katuaththamada Ambalama is an old wayside rest near Ovilikanda in Matale District, Sri Lanka.

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country.

The structure
The Katuaththamada Ambalama is roughly a square-shaped structure built of brick and mortar. The roof which is covered with calicut clay tiles is held by 4 pillars at the corners. Connecting these pillars, a short wall goes around the structure with an opening for the entrance at the front.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ilukthenna Ambalama

Ilukthenna Ambalama
Ilukthenna Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

The Ilukthenna Ambalama is an old wayside rest in Iluktenna in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It is situated on the Aladeniya-Eriyagama road at the junction that runs towards the famous Suriyagoda Viharaya.

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country.

The structure
The Ilukthenna Ambalama is roughly a square-shaped structure built of brick and mortar. The roof which is covered with calicut clay tiles is held by 4 pillars at the corners. Connecting these pillars, a short wall goes around the structure. A hood has been attached in front of it with two pillars holding the roof.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Milinda Prashnaya

Milinda Prashnaya (also known as Sri Saddharmadasaya) is the Sinhalese translation of the popular Pali work of the Northern Buddhists entitled Milinda Panha (The questions of Milinda), the controversy occurred between the Indo-Greek king Milinda [or Menander I (165/155–130 B.C.)] and the senior Buddhist monk Nagasena on the Buddhist doctrine (Wikramasinghe, 1900). 
 
The translation was carried out by Hinatikumbure Sumangala Thera at the request of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha  [(1747-1780 A.D.) Wikramasinghe, 1900]. Sumangala Thera was a pupil of Attaragama Bandara Rajaguru who was himself a pupil of the Sangharaja Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera [(1698-1778 A.D.) Wikramasinghe, 1900].

References
1) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.27-28.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Anuruddha Shathakaya

Anuruddha Shathakaya is an ancient Sanskrit poem written in the 11th or 12th century A.D. Compiled by Anuruddha Thera, it contains 101 stanzas in praise of the Buddha (Wikramasinghe, 1900). The author Anuruddha Thera is a Buddhist monk supposed to have lived in Polonnaruwa (Wikramasinghe, 1900).

References
1) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. p.19.

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Sunday, December 12, 2021

Saddharma Ratnavaliya

Saddharma Ratnavaliya (also known as Ratanavaliya) is an ancient Sinhalese text written in or before the 13th century. Compiled by Dhammasena Thera, it contains an extensive collection of Buddhist tales elucidating the moral aphorism of the Dhamma-pada (Wikramasinghe, 1900). 
 
There is not much information about Dhammasena Thera but he is believed to have lived in or before the 13th century as his name is found in Nikaya Sangraha along with other priestly authors such as Sahitya, Wilgammula, Anuruddha, Dipankara and Mayurapada who lived in or before the reign of King Parakramabau II [(1236-1270 A.D.) Wikramasinghe, 1900].

References
1) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.11-19.

This page was last updated on 12 December 2021
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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Hambegamuwa Viharaya

Hambegamuwa Viharaya
Hambegamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Muthumala Purana Viharaya) is Buddhist temple situated in Hambegamuwa village in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. 

Although there is a new temple built near the road, in the rear of the temple, close to the Hambegamuwa Wewa stands a large ancient Stupa known as Muthumala Dagoba. The remains of old structures, flight of steps, pillars, and broken Buddha statues have been found from the site.
 
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Friday, December 10, 2021

Dimbulagala Viharaya

Dimbulagala Viharaya
Dimbulagala Viharaya (ancient Dhumarakkhapabbata, Udumbarapabbata or Udumbarasala-pabbata) is a Buddhist monastery situated in Dimbulagala mountain site (or Gunner's Quoin hill) in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka. 

History
Early period
As mentioned in chronicles such as Mahavamsa, Pandukabhaya, the first traditional monarch in Sri Lanka is said to have lived at this place for 4 years in the 5th century B.C. and there was a pond named Tumbariyangana at the foot of the mountain (Adithiya, 1986; Nicholas, 1963). It is also said that Jutindhara, a leader of Yaksa tribe who lived in Dimbulagala cave during the reign of Pandukabhaya  was reborn as a deity in the same cave (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
Buddhist temple
Although there are no proper details about the establishment of the Buddhist temple at Dimbulagala mountain, the early-Brahmi inscriptions discovered on the many caves on its slope reveal that there was an ancient Buddhist monastery established in the 3rd or early in the 2nd century B.C. (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970).
 
Dimbulagala Maravidiya cave inscription of Citta
Period: 3rd-2nd century B.C.                Script: Early Brahmi                Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Parumaka pusha jhitaya upashika Citaya lene shagasha.
Translation: The cave of the female lay-devotee Citta, daughter of the chief Pussa [is given] to the Buddhist monks.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.22.

The Buddhist temple at Dimbulagala is mentioned in the Tika in which it says that the Lovamahapaya at Anuradhapura was visible from the site (Nicholas, 1963). The monk Kuntagatta Tissa Thera who chaired the Sangha council held at Matale Alu Viharaya is said to have lived in Dimbulagala under the patronage of King Valagamba [(89-77 B.C.) Wikramagamage, 2004]. Arhat Maliyadeva, the last Arhat in Sri Lanka is believed to have lived in Sanda-maha-lena (the great Moon cave) at Dimbulagala Viharaya (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
King Mahanama (406-428 A.D.) is said to have built some buildings at Dhumarakkha mountain (Dimbulagala) and bestowed them to the Buddhist monks of Theravada school (Adithiya, 1986; Nicholas, 1963; Wijesekara, 1945). A rock inscription of Sundara-Mahadevi, the chief queen of King Vikramabahu (1111-1132 A.D. and the mother of King Gajabahu II (1132-1153 A.D.) at the site reveal that she caused the construction of a road at Dimbulagala between Sanda-maha-lena (the great Moon cave) and Hiru-maha-lena (the great Sun cave) and paved it with stone (Adithiya, 1986; Ranawella, 2007). She also had built cave temples with statues, Stupas and sacred Bo trees (Ranawella, 2007). According to the inscription, the monastery at the time was known as Dumbulagala and 500 monks were in residence there (Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2007).

As revealed by the Gal Vihara Ordinance, in the 12th century A.D., King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) carried out a purge of the religious order with the help of the Mahathera Kassapa of Udumbaragiri (Dimbulagala) Viharaya (Adithiya, 1986; Nicholas, 1963; Ranawella, 2007). In the reign of King Vijayabahu II (1232-1236 A.D.) a monk named Medhankara Maha Thera from this temple took a leading part in disciplinary reforms of the Sangha (Adithiya, 1986). Again in the following reign of King Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 A.D.) Medhankara Mahasami of Dimbulagala assisted the king to restore order in the Sangha (Adithiya, 1986; Nicholas, 1963).
 
Dimbulagala was popular during the 12-15th centuries as a monastery that provided education for the local Buddhist monks and for those from abroad. A historical record in Thailand have mentioned the visit of a Mon monk to Udumbaragiri monastery (Dimbulagala) and his return to establish a new monastery in the Mon state in modern, southern Myanmar (Kittikant, 2012).
 
Recent history
The ruined temple which was lost in the wilderness for a long period of time was explored in 1897 by H.C.P. Bell, the then Commissioner of Archaeology (Wijesekara, 1945). It saw the light of development when the Buddhist monk named Kitalagama Silalankara Thera arrived at the site in 1954 (Wikramagamage, 2004). 
 
Buddhist murals
Remains of some Buddhist murals have been found in two caves with white plaster walls known as Maravidiya at Dimbulagala Viharaya (Wijesekara, 1945; Wikramagamage, 2004). They belonged to the 12th century A.D. (Somathilake, 2013). In 1954, a religious fanatic had damaged the paintings in Maravidiya caves by applying a liberal coating of cow-dung on them (Godakumbura, 1969).
 
Maravidiya cave no. 1
A fragment of painting is preserved on the sidewall to the right. It shows the Buddha seated on a raised cushioned dias under an arch in the Dyana Mudra. To the left of the Buddha are three figures in an attitude of worship (Wijesekara, 1945). Another large figure of the seated Buddha surrounded by a number of figures is found in the same cave (Wijesekara, 1945). A design of a frieze of geese arranged in a row one behind the other is also found.
 
Maravidiya cave no.2
On the sidewall to the right, the final phase of the Sasa Jataka is painted (Wijesekara, 1945). It depicts the God Sakka is portraying on the full moon the image of the hare. In the same cave is another painting showing a figure of a man holding with his left hand the trunk of an elephant. This possibly depicts a scene from the Vessantara Jataka (Wijesekara, 1945).

Pre-historic painting
A pre-historic cave painting depicting a figure resembling a king has been discovered from the site (Adithiya, 1986; Wikramagamage, 2004). The figure sits on a seat and something like a crown or headdress is found on his head (Adithiya, 1986). A stick with three leaves similar to Bo leaves is held by the left hand of the figure (Adithiya, 1986). Eleven symbols (probably pre-Brahmi scripts) have been drawn around the figure (Adithiya, 1986; Wikramagamage, 2004).

See also

Attribution
1) Dimbulagala Temple by Astronomyinertia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
 
References
1) Adithiya, L.A., 1986. Antiquarian note: Dimbulagala man. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka Branch, 31, pp.155-162.
2) Godakumbura, C. E., 1969. History of archaeology in Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol XIII). Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.36.
3) Kittikant, T., 2012. Udumbaragiri and its relationship in Sukothai architecture. Damrong Journal of The Faculty of Archaeology Silpakorn University, 11(2), pp.170-194.
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). pp.40-41.
5) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.22-23.
6) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.20-21,30-40.
7) Somathilake, M., 2013. Painted Jataka stories of ancient Sri Lanka. International Journal of Arts and Commerce Vol. 2 No. 6. pp.139-150.
8) Wijesekara, N., 1945. Early Sinhalese Paintings. A thesis submitted for the Ph. D. of the Culcutta University. pp.11-13,120-123.
9) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.249-251.
 
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