Saturday, February 27, 2021

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.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 10 April 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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