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.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Mackinnon Mackenzie Building, Colombo Fort

Mackinnon Mackenzie Building
Mackinnon Mackenzie Building is located at the intersection of York Street and the Layden Bastian Road in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. The popular Grand Oriental Hotel is situated next to this building (Manathunga, 2016).

History
The Mackinnon Mackenzie and Company of Ceylon Limited is one of the oldest companies in the country. It has a history associated with the British India Steamship Company [(BI) a company founded in 1856 and closed in 1972] and the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company [(P&O) a company founded in 1837 and closed in 2006]. The P&O started an agency in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1842, and their local shipping agent at that time was E. Coates & Co. (Galle) Ltd., situated within the Galle Fort. However, the P&O was taken over by the newly formed Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. in 1871.

In 1917, the Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. established their office in Colombo Fort in a building owned by the Earl of Inchcape. They purchased the building from Earl of Inchcape in 1921 and expanded it during 1925 to accommodate the activities of the company. In 1952, the company converted to a limited liability status and in 1974, the ownership of the Mackinnons Group of Companies was acquired by the John Keells Group. However, the building is still used by them for their commercial activities.

The building
Old P&O
Although the building has gone through major renovations, most of the original architectural features still remain in some extent in the present building. The part that faces York Street has been almost renovated (Manathunga, 2016). The decorative features of the half-round arches of the first and second floors have slightly changed by recent renovations, finally giving them a plain appearance. The half-round arches, columns and the pair of two domes at the topmost floor have given a vivid appearance to the present building.

A protected monument
The building of Lanka Mackinnon Mackenzie Ltd. located at Layden Bastian Street in Colombo Fort, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Colombo is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 21 January 2000.

References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.32-33.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1116. 21 January 2000.
3) The official webpage of Mackinnon Mackenzie Shipping (http://www.mackinnonshipping.com/about-us/history/).

Location Map
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Kudumbigala Viharaya

Kudumbigala Viharaya
Kudumbigala Viharaya [also known as Kudumbigala Aranya Senasanaya (forest hermitage)] is a Buddhist monastery located in the forest near Panama village in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
As evident by the lithic records found at the site, the caves of Kudumbigala have been occupied by Buddhist monks since the pre-Christian era (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1970; Withanachchi, 2013). According to Medhananda, this could be the ancient Chetiyapabbata of Rohana which is mentioned in old Pali commentaries (Medhananda, 2003). Medhananda further believes that this monastery was established in the 3rd century B.C. and flourished until the 7th century A.D. (Medhananda, 2003).

The site
The monastery has been established on and around the Kudumbigala rock which is 119 m in height. It extends in an area of about 4700 hectares and spreads around the Helawa lagoon. More than 100 rock caves used as monks dwellings have been discovered from the site.

Stupas
Remains of several ancient Stupas are found on some of the rock surfaces of Kudumbigala and three of them are found on the summit of the highest rock known as Segiri Belumgala (Medhananda, 2003). Of these three Stupas, the largest one which is known as Chetiyagiri Stupa has been completely conserved today (Withanachchi, 2013). This brick-built Stupa has been built on a square-shaped platform that measures 44 x 44 ft. (Medhananda, 2003). The shape of the dome of it is considered unique and its appearance similar to the shape of the massive Dharmarajika Stupa (or Dhamek Stupa) at Sarnath in India (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013). The ruins of several Stupas are also found in places called Sumanakula and Natambun-talawa (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013).

Besides the Stupas, remains of ancient buildings and other structures such as stone-pillars, base-stones, the rock-cut flight of steps, entrances, guard-stones (Muragal), Asanaghara, Padalasgal, Yupa, and Catra-stones are found at the site (Medhananda, 2003). Fragments of some faded paintings have been identified drawn on the inner surface of one rock cave where a pond is located (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013).

Inscriptions
Scholars have published about 18 cave and rock inscriptions found from the Kudumbigala premises (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1970). Of them, the inscription in the cave known as Sudarshana-lena is important.

Kudumbigala inscriptions of Sudarshana-lena
Script: Early-Brahmi                   Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (a symbol) Parumaka-Nadika-putasha parumaka-Mitasha lene Mahashudashane shagasha dine
Translation: The Mahasudassana cave of the chief Mitta, son of chief Nandika, is given to the Sangha.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.38.

According to the view of some, Mitta (the son of Nandika) who is mentioned in this inscription could be Nandimitra, one of the ten warriors of King Dutugemunu [(161-137 B.C.) Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1970]. The symbol which is at the beginning of the record is of unique design and represent the Triratna (triple-gem) symbol (Medhananda, 2003).

A protected site
All drip-ledged caves with inscriptions, ancient buildings, hillocks covering Stupas, and flight of steps belonging to Kudumbigala archaeological site situated in Grama Niladari Division No. PP 02 Panama South in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.

Attribution
1) Kudumbigala by Amila Tennakoon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) 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. pp.119-124.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.lxx,37, 38-39.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p. 918.
4) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.20-21.

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Kosgoda Ganegodella Viharaya

Kosgoda Ganegodella Viharaya
Kosgoda Ganegodella Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Nape in Galle District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple goes back to the Period of Dambadeniya. The establishment of this temple is attributed to Devapathiraja, a minister of King Parakramabahu II [(1236-1271 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranchagoda, 2015]. It is said that Devapathiraja removed a Madel forest that existed in the Kosgoda village and constructed a complete Buddhist temple including a three-storied image house (Ranchagoda, 2015). As found in the records by Joao Ribeiro (17th century), Kosgoda Viharaya was among the Buddhist temples destroyed by the Portuguese (Ranchagoda, 2015).

The temple was re-established during the Buddhist revival of the Kandyan Period (Ranchagoda, 2015).

Artifacts/ murals
A stone slab containing the footprint of the Buddha (Sri Pathul Gala) and a moonstone (Sandakada Pahana) have been found from the site. These artifacts indicate that this temple could have a long history rooted up to the Anuradhapura Period. A marble Buddha statue which is said to have been gifted to the temple in the early 1900s from Thailand is also found placed in the temple.

Also, the temple is famous for its paintings that have certain features characteristic of the maritime style of the Kandyan Sittara Art (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine, two Bhikku dwellings and the area belonging to Ganegodella Rajamaha Vihara (where archaeological remains including an ancient shrine, Chaitya, the footprint of Buddha, moonstone, the statue of Buddha and ancient tombstone are scattered) situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. 17, Nape in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Balapitiya are archaeological protected monuments, declared by government gazette notifications published on 6 June 2008, and 9 March 2016.

Attribution
1) Kosgoda temple by Carl Cahill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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. p.11.
2) Ranchagoda, T. O., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Galla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-53-4. pp.15-16.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.523.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Extraordinary), no: 1957/18. 9 March 2016. p.5A.

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Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Yatagama village in Unawatuna in Galle District, Sri Lanka.

History
Locals believe that this temple was established during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 A.D.) by planting a sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura (Abeyawardana, 2004; Samanthi, 1999).

A small inscription is found near the steps but its view has been obscured by the large standing Buddha statue constructed in front of the rock (Abeyawardana, 2004). Another inscription is said to be under the drip-ledge of the cave where the present image house stands (Abeyawardana, 2004).

The history of this temple is also associated with King Parakramabahu II [(1236-1271 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Samanthi, 1999]. The Buddha in the image house and the Stupa are said to have been done in the Dambadeniya Period (Abeyawardana, 2004; Samanthi, 1999). The paintings that adorn the inner walls date from the Kandyan Period but have been repainted about 100 years ago (Abeyawardana, 2004).

In 1891, an education centre named "Hettawala Pirivena" was established in the temple (Samanthi, 1999).

The temple
The temple is located on the slope of a hilly area with a few caves. It consists of a Stupa, Bodhi-tree, image house, Uposathagara (chapter house), Dhammasala (preaching hall), Sanghawasa (monks' dwellings), Danasala (refectory), and library. Of them, the Stupa, Bodhi-tree and the image house are located at the Uda-maluwa (the upper terrace). A flight of steps provide access to the upper terrace.

Attribution

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.31-32.
2) Samanthi, L.K.N., 1999. Architectural concepts of Buddhist places of worship: an examination of the architectural concepts of Buddhist places of worship in rural and urban settings with special reference to Southern Province. A dissertation submitted to the University of Moratuwa as a partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Architecture. pp.64-78.

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Crocodile Charm Inscription, Baddegama

Crocodile Charm Inscription
A granite block of stone with a 15th-century crocodile charm and a talisman has been discovered from Gin Ganga river at Baddegama in Galle District, Sri Lanka. It is presently housed in the Hedidemalakanda Dutugemunu Raja Maha Viharaya in Ganegama village (de Silva, 2011; Rohanadeera, 2007).

Discovery
The stone block was discovered from the Gin Ganga River at Baddegama and it was brought to the attention of the Department of Archaeology in the 1950s by a person named A. Vitanachchi (Rohanadeera, 2007). It was deciphered for the first time by Prof. Rohanadeera in 2007 (Rohanadeera, 2007).

The charm and the talisman
The stone block is irregularly hexagonal in shape and approximately 18 inches in length, width, and height (de Silva, 2011; Rohanadeera, 2007). The inscription (the charm) has been engraved on five faces of the block and the remaining face possibly would have been reserved to be laid on the river bed (Rohanadeera, 2007). On the first face is a circular figure (the talisman) similar to the sun and in the centre of it is the Sinhala script denoting "HRIM" a sound commonly used in charms, mantras (Rohanadeera, 2007). Three more letters of the same sound are found around the central "HRIM" script within the circle. Another "HRIM" script and a circle containing an unclear figure (probably a figure of a tied crocodile) is found outside the circle (Rohanadeera, 2007). Below these figures are two lines of Sinhala writing (Rohanadeera, 2007).

The second face has 10 lines of writing while the third has 14 lines (Rohanadeera, 2007). The fourth and fifth faces have 4 and 8 lines of writing respectively (Rohanadeera, 2007). The charm starts with salutation to the Buddha and ends with a verse that reads "...this is the crocodile charm that tied the crocodiles and she crocodiles" (de Silva, 2011; Rohanadeera, 2007).

On paleographical grounds, scholars have dated this inscription to the late 15th century A.D. (Rohanadeera, 2007). Prof. Rohanadeera has compared the scripts of this inscription with those in the inscriptions at Kitsirimevan Kelaniya (1344 A.D.), Pepiliyana (1459 A.D.), Madavala (1462 A.D.), and Keragala [(1501 A.D.) Rohanadeera, 2007].

To prevent crocodile attacks
Two crocodile species [the Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) and the Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)] are found in aquatic environments in Sri Lanka (de Silva, 2011). Both species are known to attack animals as well as humans (de Silva, 2011). Therefore, to prevent crocodile attacks locals have followed various spiritual practices including placing the stones on the river bed with crocodile charms. However, the Baddegama stone block is the only known example in Sri Lanka that contains a crocodile charm engraved on it.

A work of Rahula Thera?
This crocodile charm and the talisman is believed to be a work of Ven. Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera (1408-1491 A.D.), a Buddhist monk and an eminent scholar who lived his last days in a cave at Ambana (present Ambana Sri Rahula Induru Gallen Viharaya), a locality near Baddegama (de Silva, 2011; Rohanadeera, 2007). Rahula was also reputed throughout the country as being well versed in charms and the occult (de Silva, 2011). The name Ambana is found cited on the fourth face of this inscription (Rohanadeera, 2007).

References
1) de Silva, A., 2011. Prevention of crocodile attacks in Sri Lanka: Some traditional methods. Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter. Vol: 30. No: 1. IUCN - Species Survival Commission. pp.28-31.
2) Rohanadeera, M., 2007. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-64-3. pp.58-75.

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Muthiyangana Viharaya

Muthiyangana Stupa
Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Badulla town in Sri Lanka. It is regarded as one of the Solosmasthana, the 16 sacred Buddhist places in the country

History
The origin of the Muthiyangana (or Mutingana) Viharaya is obscure as it is not mentioned in the main chronicles (Nicholas, 1963). However, historical evidence of the existence of this temple is found in several Pali Commentaries (Nicholas, 1963). According to the Samantapasadika of Buddhagosha Thera, Buddha consecrated this place during his third visit to Sri Lanka in the eighth year after his enlightenment (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). An Atuwa belonging to Majjhima Nikaya mentions that Arahant Maliyadeva performed a Sutra preaching at this place (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).

Local tradition
People believe that the Mukthaka Dhatu of the Buddha is enshrined in this Stupa (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 B.C.) is said to have enlarged the Stupa and planted one of the 32 saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi-tree at this site (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017).

A protected site
The image house with ancient paintings in Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara situated in Badulla in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Badulla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 1 November 1999.

Muthiyangana entrance.

References
1) 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.47.
2) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.41-42.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 948. 1 November 1999.

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Bowattegala Caves, Kumana

Bowattegala Caves
Bowattegala Len Viharaya is an abandoned Buddhist monastery site (a cave temple) situated within the woods of Kumana National Park in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
As evident by the cave and rock inscriptions in-situ, Bowattegala was an important Buddhist monastery site for centuries before it falling into ruins (Paranavitana, 1983). A number of caves, mostly with drip-ledges and inscriptions, are found scattered in the site. Some of the caves have the remains of walls.

Inscriptions that have been discovered from the site are belonging to the pre-Christian era as well as to the reigns of King Bhatiya Tissa II (140-164 A.D.) and Jettatissa II [(331-340 A.D.) Dias, 1991; Hettiarachchi, 1990; Paranavitana, 1970; Paranavitana, 1983]. Among them, the inscription of King Jettatissa II helped historians to ascertain that he was a son of King Mahasena [(277-304 A.D.) Dias, 1991].

Later inscriptions at this site indicate that the monastery was in a flourishing condition up to the 7th century A.D. (Nicholas, 1963).

Inscriptions
A number of cave and rock inscriptions ranging from the pre-Christian era to the 6th century A.D. have been discovered from the site (Dias, 1991; Paranavitana, 1970; Paranavitana, 1983). Of them, three inscriptions with the distinctive emblem of a fish [Paranavitana, 1970. (IC. Nos. 549, 550, 551)] reveals detail about ten brother kings and their associated lineage (Nicholas, 1963; Sirisoma, 1990).

Bovattegala inscriptions of ten brother kings
Script: Early-Brahmi                   Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Gamani-puta dasha-batikana jhete Shava-jhetuha puta Damarajha Damarajhaha-pute Mahatisha-aye karite ima len[e] Mahashudashane shagasha dine
Translation: The son of Gamani was the eldest of the ten brothers. The son of the eldest of all [the ten brothers] was Dhammaraja. This cave named Mahasudassana which prince Mahatissa, son of Dhammaraja, caused to be established, is given to the Sangha.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. No. 549. p.42.

According to scholars such as Sirisoma and Medhananda, the aforesaid inscription (No. 549) refers to ten brother kings who were the sons of a "Gamini" and the eldest of them had son Dammaraja whose son was Mahatissa (Medhananda, 2003; Sirisoma, 1990). The second inscription (No. 550) reveals the name "Uti rajha" (King Uttiya) who was also one of the ten brother kings (Medhananda, 2003; Sirisoma, 1990). According to that inscription, Gamani was the father of Uti and Abhaya was his son (Medhananda, 2003; Sirisoma, 1990). Anuradhi (Anuradha) was the daughter of Abhaya (Medhananda, 2003; Sirisoma, 1990). The third inscription (No. 551) again refers to Mahatissa, the son of Dhammaraja (Paranavitana, 1970). These three inscriptions mention the names of two of the ten brother kings (Sirisoma, 1990). However, the identity of this lineage of rules remains uncertain to date (Medhananda, 2003).

A contemporary inscription in Mottayakallu in Ampara District, mentions a person named Uparaja Naga who was the Javaka leader of the ten brother kings (Paranavitana, 1970). The only reference to ten brother kings in literature is found in Dhatuvamsa and according to that, the ten brother kings are Ksatriyas from Kataragama (or a regal line related to them) and they were put to death by Gotabhaya [(3rd century B.C.) Sirisoma, 1990]. 

References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.91,93.
2) Hettiarachchi, A.S., 1990. Investigation of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century inscriptions. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume II: Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.69,73-74.
3) 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. pp.85-90.
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.21. 
5) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.37, 42-43.
6) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part I. Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. p.123.
7) Sirisoma, M.H., 1990. Brahmi inscription of Sri Lanka from 3rd century B.C. to 65 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume II: Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.22.

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Diyagama Inscription

Diyagama Inscription
Diyagama inscription (also known as Pelunu gala inscription) is a rock inscription discovered from Diyagama in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka. It is presently placed in a plot of land situated about 8 km distance above the Kalu Ganga river mouth.

Pelunu-gala in Sinhala means "the split rock". This inscription is known by that name because of the split rock that is in the middle of the Kalu Ganga River near the location of this inscription.

The location & the discovery
The inscription has been engraved on the surface of a rock boulder at Diyagama close to the Kalu Ganga river. In ancient times, Diyagama is believed to be a port of the Kalu Ganga river and the area located to the north of it belonged to the old division Kalyani-desa, originally the Kingdom of Kalyani (Katupotha, 2011; Nicholas, 1963).

The inscription was first recorded by E. Muller in the 19th century (Muller, 1883). It had been brought to the attention of Muller by Waskaduwe Sri Subuthi Thera (Katupotha, 2011; Muller, 1883).

Content
The inscription is believed to have been indited in or before the 5th century A.D. (Katupotha, 2011; Muller, 1883). It has four lines of writing. Of them, several letters in the first three lines are missing due to the weathering of the rock. It records a temple named Kalaka Mahavihara, an old Buddhist temple in Kalutara which no longer exists (Nicholas, 1963). The market-town of Kaliniya (present Kelaniya) is another name found in the inscription (Abeyawardana, 2002; Nicholas, 1963).

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.104-105.
2) Katupotha, J., 2011. Cultural and Historical Monuments and Protected Resources of Archaeological Significance in the Lower Kalu Ganga Basin, Sri Lanka. Conference PaperNational Archaeological Symposium 2011. pp.197-213.
3) Muller, E., 1883. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. London. pp.48,77,111.
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.118. 

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Akurugoda Pillar Inscription

Akurugoda Pillar Inscription
Akurugoda Pillar Inscription is a lithic record discovered from the urban mound of Akurugoda in Tissamaharama, in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

The pillar
The record has been engraved on two faces of an octagonal pillar of granite of about 30 feet tall (Abeyawardana, 2004; Paranavitana, 2001). It was brought to the attention of scholars for the first time in 1884 by H. Parker and then by E. R. Ayrton (Paranavitana, 2001; Parker, 1884). After Ayrton, the pillar itself had got buried again and its exact location remained unknown to archaeologists until 1951 (Paranavitana, 2001). The pillar is said to have been broken into two fragments when it was rediscovered by the Archaeological Department (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Content
The language of the Akurugoda record is Sinhala Prakrit and it is written in later-Brahmi characters (Abeyawardana, 2004). Scholars have dated this inscription to the 1st century A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004; Somadeva, 2006).

Transcript: Siddham, Yage dhama sebaye nama Saga-vadama ne nama......>>
Translation: Success!, The sacrifice is, Dharma; it is also to be accepted as the Good,......>>
Notes: The record is composed like a poem, and it mentions the conversion of a viceroy named Naka to the Buddhist faith.
Reference: Paranavitana, 2001. Abeyawardana, 2004.

An inscription containing similar text to the Akurugoda inscription has also been found engraved on a rock at Kirinda Raja Maha Viharaya (Abeyawardana, 2004; Paranavitana, 2001; Somadeva, 2006). According to the view of Paranavitana, the record in Kirinda has been set up by the monks of the monastery at which the Prince Naka declared his profession of faith while the record at Akurugoda has been set up by the prince himself at his place of residence (Paranavitana, 2001).

As stated by scholars, these two inscriptions are unique and bear a political significance (Abeyawardana, 2004). Nicholas has given a short description about its significance as follows;
"The chronicles give us to understand that from B.C. 246 onwards Buddhism was the firm and only faith of the Sinhalese monarchy and people, and the accuracy of that assertion is not impugned by this solitary instance of one dissident prince professing other beliefs and recanting them in favour of Buddhism. This singular event is not recorded in the Chronicles or Commentaries, but it was apparently of sufficient local importance for the recantation to be publicised by the engraving of two inscriptions, one at the Uvaraja's seat (Mahagama) and the other at the Vihara where the conversion occurred".
Citation: Nicholas, 1963. pp.62-63.
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.123,141-142. 
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.62-63.
3) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.211-214.
4) Parker, H., 1884. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Report on archaeological discoveries at Tissamaharama in the southern province of Ceylon. Vol: VIII. Part: I. No:27. pp.86-87.
5) Somadeva, R., 2006. Urban origins in southern Sri Lanka. Doctoral thesis in Archaeology at Uppsala University. pp.131,429.

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Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya
The Grand Hotel is a star-class hotel situated in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

History
On 11 August 1828, Sir Edward Barnes, the then British Governor of Ceylon (1824-1831 A.D), mandated a home for the British residents in Nuwara Eliya and in the next year (1829) he established his residence also there, by the name "Barnes Hall" (Abeyawardana, 2004). In 1831, Barnes left Sri Lanka and the home fell into the hands of his successor, Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton (governed: 1831-1837 A.D.). In 1843, the Barnes hall was purchased by Reginald Beauchamp Downall, a British plantation owner and member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. He operated it as a guest house until the property was sold to the Nuwara Eliya Hotels company in 1891, who converted the guest house to the present Grand Hotel. 

A protected monument
The building known as “Grand Hotel” bearing Assessment No. 17, in Grand Hotel Road in the Administrative Limits of Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council in Nuwara Eliya Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007. 


References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.211.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.127.

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Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya

Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya
Victoria Park is an urban park located in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

The park was established in 1897. In 1917, a Cyprus tree was planted in the park to commemorate World War I of 1914 (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Presently, the park extends in an area of about 12 hectares (Abeyawardana, 2004). Initially, it had a large extent of the land but it got reduced later as utilization of some of the lands for civic purposes (Abeyawardana, 2004). Presently, the park is maintained by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.209-210.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Stupas of Delft Island, Jaffna

Delft Stupas
A site with the remains of a ancient Buddhist temple has been discovered from the north-western part of the Delft Island, Jaffna District, Sri Lanka (Devendra, 1969; Dias et al., 2016; Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987; Wijebandara, 2014). The area where these ruins are scattered is presently known as Vetiyaracan Kottai (the Fort of Vedi Arasan) by the locals (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Wijebandara, 2014).

History
This site is identified as the only place on the island that had been subjected to the earliest human activity (Dias et al., 2016). It is estimated that their origin dates back to the 2nd century B.C. (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). However, definitive evidence about the construction of the Stupas on the island is obscure up to date (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). Sri Lankan chronicles reveal that there was a number of Buddhist temples in the Jaffna Peninsula during the Anuradhapura Period (Goonatilake et al., 2013). According to the view of Ragupathy, this site possibly a place of Buddhist warship patronized by the ancient traders (Ragupathy, 1987). It could have abandoned after Hindu influence that took place intensively in the time of the Jaffna principality (Ragupathy, 1987).

Local legends
Local people identify this site as Vetiyaracan Kottai (the Fort of Vedi Arasan) because they believe that these ruins belong to Vetiyaracana (or Vedi Arasan), a legendary Tamil figure (said to be the king of Mukkuvar caste) found in local tradition (Devendra, 1969; Ragupathy, 1987).

Stupas and other ruins
Delft Stupas
There are remains of Buddhist Stupas and other ancient structures including fragmented Buddha statues, Yantra-gal, socket stones, etc. (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987). These remains are scattered in an area of about 15-20 acres (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987). Apparently, these structures had been built using chiselled and unchiselled corals (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987).

Stupas
Circular basements of three Stupas have been identified at the site (Devendra, 1969; Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987). In 1969, Devendra recorded about a fragment of a Dagaba-spire (Kot-Kerelle - the upper portion of a Stupa) that he observed during a visit to the site (Devendra, 1969). The Stupa basements were partially restored by the Department of Archaeology in the late 1970s (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987).

The main Stupa has been built in the highest elevation in the area and its remaining base is 34 feet in diameter (Dias et al., 2016). Recent restorations have made it a 3 feet high monument (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). The bases of two other small Stupas are found on the west and the east of the main Stupa (Dias et al., 2016; Wijebandara, 2014). The Stupa base at the eastern side has a diameter of 10 feet (Wijebandara, 2014). Ruins of some ancient structures are also found in the north-eastern part of the main Stupa (Wijebandara, 2014).

Other artifacts
Analysis of pottery remains (such as black and redware, roulette ware) that were discovered from the site have revealed evidence of the first few centuries of the Christian era (Goonatilake et al., 2013; Ragupathy, 1987). In 1987, Ragupathy recorded fragments of copper, iron tools (nail), iron slags, pestle stones, grooved tiles, carnelian beads, glass beads and a copper coin that belonged to King Sahassamalla (c.1200-1202 A.D.), from this site (Ragupathy, 1987).

Destruction
Most of the ruins of ancient structures have been moved by locals to construct fences, wells, and other structures (Goonatilake et al., 2013).

A protected site
The ancient Vediarasan Fort situated close to Mangaraikarasi Vidyalaya belonging to Delft Grama Niladhari Division bearing No. J-1 in the Divisional Secretariat Divison of Delft West is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Destroyed Buddhist ruins
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Attribution

References
1) Devendra, D.T., 1969. A ruined Dagaba in Delft. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 13, pp.i-iii.
2) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.217-218. 
3) Goonatilake, S. de A., Ekanayake, S., Kumara, T.P., Liyanapathirana, D., Weerakoon, D.K., and Wadugodapitiya, A. 2013. Sustainable Development of Delft Island: An ecological, socio-economic and archaeological assessment. International Union for Conservation of Nature, Colombo, Sri Lanka & Government of Sri Lanka. pp.29-30.
4) Ragupathy, P. 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna, An archaeological survey. Published by Mrs. Thilimalar Ragupathy. Madras. pp.17-22.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.129
6) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.62-63.

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Somawathiya Viharaya

Not to be confused with Somawathi Stupa, Dambulla

Somawathiya Viharaya
Somawathiya Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka.

History
Somavathi Vihara is believed to have been constructed by Prince Giri Abhaya, the brother-in-law of Prince Kavantissa of Ruhuna [(205-161 B.C.) Ranawella, 2005]. The chronicle Dhatuvamsa states that Somawathi Vihara was situated in the same region close to the Mangala Maha-cetiya built by Kavantissa (Ranawella, 2005). However, some inscriptions discovered from the Somawathiya premises have proved beyond doubt that it was not the Vihara built by Giri Abhaya but that it is a Vihara named Pajina Nakela Araba built by a Prince named Nakula, son of King Mahadatika Mahanaga [(9-21 A.D.) Dias, 2001; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983; Paranavitana, 2001; Ranawella, 2005].

Decadence and restoration
The Stupa and the temple fell into decay after the Polonnaruwa Period and it is believed that this happened due to the incursion of Chandrabanu (13th century). After that, the temple didn't receive the attention of Buddhists until the 20th century. A gazette published on 29 August 1947 declared the entrust of the custody of Somawathi Stupa and its environs to Ven. Sirimalvatte Sri Piyaratana Nayaka Thera by the then British Governor Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore (Wikramagamage, 2004). The repaired Stupa was opened for public veneration in 1948 (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The construction of roads and colonization works were begun around the Somawathiya after 1949 and by 1963 the construction work of the access road to the Somawathiya was completed (Wikramagamage, 2004). In 1966, the renovation works of the Stupa was commenced with the participation of the then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ceremony of enshrining the relics inside the Stupa was held in 1974 and the pinnacle-placing ceremony was held in 1981 under the patronage of the then President J. R. Jayawardena (Wikramagamage, 2004). Presently, a vertical opening has been left on the dome of the renovated Stupa to observe the different phases of construction.

LTTE attack
In 1987, Somawathiya was attacked by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), a rebel group designated as a terrorist organization by a number of countries including Sri Lanka, India, the USA, and the EU. They had tried to remove the crest-jewel of the Stupa but abandoned the attempt for some reason (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Inscriptions
A number of inscriptions have been found from the temple premises. Of them, the majority are found on a large boulder at Minvila near the Somawathi Stupa.

Minvila rock inscription I
This inscription records a channel that was done by Gamani Abhaya [(2nd century A.D.) Dias, 1991].

Somawathi Stupa slab inscription of Mahanaga
This slab inscription was discovered from the terrace of Somawathi Stupa by W.E. Fernando in 1940 (Paranavitana, 1983). It records the foundation of a monastery named Pajina-Naka-Araba (Pacina Nagarama) by a prince named Nakela, a son of King Mahadatika Mahanaga [(9-21 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1983].

Minvila rock inscription II
The purport of this inscription to record the grant of a village by King Naka Maharaja (Mahadatika Mahanaga) to the monastic establishment founded by his son Nakala (Paranavitana, 1983).

Minvila rock inscription III
The inscription is fragmentary and therefore, it is not possible to ascertain the purport of the record (Paranavitana, 1983).

Minvila rock inscription IV
The inscription records a donation by a king named Gamani Abhaya who is probably King Gajabahu I [(114-136 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1983].

Minvila rock inscription V
This inscription has recorded the foundation of a monastic grove in a lake at Raja-alivitiya and attachment of it to the Abhayagiri fraternity by Kanittha Tissa [(2nd century A.D.) Paranavitana, 2001].

Minvila rock inscription VI
This is the longest inscription found on the Minvila rock. It contains the same details engraved on the  Somawathi Stupa slab inscription of Kanittha Tissa [(see below) Paranavitana, 2001].

Somawathi Stupa slab inscription of Kanittha Tissa
This inscription was discovered at a location near Somawathi Stupa in 1954 by the Assistant Archaeological Commissioner for Epigraphy W.S. Karunaratna (Paranavitana, 2001). It records the foundation of a sacred grove and the grant of land made for its maintenance by Kanittha Tissa (Paranavitana, 2001)

Besides the above-mentioned inscriptions, two more lithic records have been found on the rock boulder called Eric Swan (Wikramagamage, 2004). It has got its name because of a photographer (Eric Swan) who was killed in 1952 by a wild elephant near this boulder (Wikramagamage, 2004)

A protected site
The Somawathi Stupa in the No.11 last Bu-lakshana Pumbura land situated in Minvillu village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Aralaganwila is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 7 July 1967.

Somawathi Viharaya
.
References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.29,31.
2) Dias, M, 2001. The growth of Buddhist monastic institutions in Sri Lanka from Brahmi inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology Survey. ISBN: 955-9264-04-4. p.49.
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). p.42. 
4) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part I. Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. pp.1-2,39-40,48,102.
5) Paranavitana, S., 2001 (Edited by Dias, M.). Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka. pp.131-136.
6) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. p.85.
7) The Gazette notification. no: 14756. 7 July 1967. 
8) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.254-256.

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya

Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya
Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Seruwawila Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Seruwawila in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka. It remains on the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites (UNESCO) since 2006.

History
Seruwila
In about the 2nd century B.C., there was a provincial kingdom named Seru in Seruwawila. According to chronicles such as Dhatuvamsa, Prince Kavantissa of Ruhuna (205-161 B.C.) built a Stupa named Mangala Maha-cetiya there, by enshrining the frontal bone of the Buddha. The Stupa at the present Seruwila Viharaya is identified as that ancient Mangala Maha-cetiya (also known as Tissamaha-vehera) built by Kavantissa (Ranawella, 2005). However, the 10th-century "Seruwila rock inscription of Sirisangabo" which was discovered from the temple premises has referred to the monastery at the site as Kuratis Mahavehera (Ranawella, 2005). This epigraphical evidence, therefore, has raised some doubt regarding the true identity of this site (Ranawella, 2005).
 
Decadence
Over the years, the Seruwila Stupa and the temple fell into decay due to the consequences of the Cola and Pandya invasions from South India (de Thabrew, 2013).

Restoration
The ruined Seruwil Stupa and the temple were rediscovered in 1921 by a Buddhist monk named Ven. Dambagas-are Sri Sumedhankara (1892-1984). He, with the assistance of others, restored the Stupa and the temple (de Thabrew, 2013). The restoration work of the Stupa was completed with pinnacle-placing ceremony held on 8 September 1930 (de Thabrew, 2013).

Inscriptions & other monuments
A few inscriptions belonging to the period between the 2nd century B.C - 10th century A.D. have been found from the site (Dias, 1991; Paranavitana, 1970; Ranawella, 2005). 
 
Seruwila cave inscription
This cave inscription was copied by the Department of Archaeology in 1949.
Period: 2nd century B.C.               Script: Early-Brahmi               Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Bata Gutaha lene caduke......
Translation: The cave of lord Gutta (is dedicated to the Sangha of) the (four quarters)
Citation: Dias, 1991.p.25.

Seruwila rock inscription
This rock inscription was discovered near a flight of steps and copied by the Department of Archaeology on 2 October 1962.  
Period: 1st century A.D.               Script: Early-Brahmi               Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (Upa)saka Dataha (lene)
Translation: (The cave of) devotee Datta
Citation: Dias, 1991.p.26.
 
Another two early-Brahmi cave inscriptions belonging to the 2nd and 1st century B.C. have been discovered in the archaeological reserve at Seruwila (Dias, 1991).

Seruwila rock inscription of Sirisangabo
Period: 10th century A.D.          Script: Medieval Sinhala          Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This fragmentary inscription says it is a boundary stone. It also mentions a monastery named Kuratis Maha-vahara and the names of two Buddhist monks.
References: Ranawella, 2005.
 
Besides inscriptions, the temple also comprises a large number of other monuments including the old entrance gates, image house, ruined monastery buildings, chapter house, ponds, caves with primitive paintings, etc. 
 
Archaeological Museum
A small site museum of the Archaeological Department has been established in the premises of Seruwila Viharaya. The museum is used to exhibit antiquities recovered from the temple. 

An archaeological reserve
The land including the Seruvila Stupa (P.P.S. 96 lot no.1 to 4: consists 84 acres, 0 roods, 29 perches) situated in Seruwawila village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Seruwila is an archaeological reserve, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 16 November 1962.

Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya
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Reference
1) de Thabrew, W. V., 2013. Monuments and Temples of Orthodox Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka. Author House. p.70.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.25-26,65,68.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.93.
4) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. p.85. 
5) The Gazette notification. no: 13394. 16 November 1962.

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Uggal Aluthnuwara Kataragama Devalaya

Uggal Alutnuwara Kataragama Devalaya
Uggal Alutnuwara Kataragama Devalaya (or Uggal Aluthnuwara Kuda Kataragam Devalaya) is a Devalaya shrine situated in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka.  It has been dedicated to Kataragama Deviyo, a local deity who is believed to be one of the guardians of Buddhism in the country.

History
This shrine is said to have been constructed in the Saka year 1304 (1382 A.D.) by Surya Maha-raja of Surya Mahanuwara (Medagama) who is a descendant of the royal lineage of Sena Sammata (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967). After about 200 years, the shrine was developed by Yapa Maha-raja of the same royal lineage (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967). It is said that Constantino de Sa, the Governor of Portuguese Ceylon from 1618 to 1622, destroyed Medagam Nuwara (Uggal Alutnuwara) when it was the temporary kingdom of Mayadunna the second (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967).

A palm-leaf manuscript (Tudapatha), which is preserved in the Devalaya reveals certain offerings granted to the Devalaya by Pilimatalawe Adikaram in the Saka year 1736 (1814 A.D.), or the 16th regnal year of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe [(1798-1815 A.D.) Gnanawimala Thera, 1967].

A protected site
The Kataragama shrine in Aluthnuwara Perani Uggal Kataragama Devala premises situated in Alutnuwara village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Imbulpe is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 3 September 1999.

Uggal Alutnuwara Kataragama Devalaya Uggal Alutnuwara Kataragama Devalaya Uggal Alutnuwara Kataragama Devalaya
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References
1) Gnanawimala Thera, K., 1967. Saparagamu Darshana (In Sinhala). S. Godage Saha Sahodarayo. pp.254-255.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1096. 3 September 1999.

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