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.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Veherakema Buddhist Ruins, Panama

Veherakema Buddhist Ruins, Panama
Photo credit: rafael pedro, Google street view

Veherakema Archaeological Site is situated in Panama in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by travelling along the Panama-Kudumbigala Viharaya road about 8.3 km from Panama town.

History
As reveals by a 7th-century Sinhala inscription in-situ, this was a Buddhist temple known as Macala Vehera in ancient times (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1934). The inscription which is engraved on the rock near the ruins of an ancient Stupa at this site records that a king named Vahaka Maharaja caused a Stupa to be built at the Macaḷa-vehera (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1934). The name of this ruler is not mentioned in the chronicles and according to the view of scholars such as S. Paranavitana, Vahaka could be a prince who,  in the unsettled political conditions which prevailed in Anuradhapura during the greater part of the seventh century, set himself up as an independent sovereign of Rohaṇa, within which principality the inscription lies (Paranavitana, 1934).

Veherakema rock inscription
Period: 7th century                                        
Script & language: Sinhala of the 7th century
Transcript: (1) Vahaka-maharaja Macala-vaharaya (2) cata karavaya catara kriya kubara laba... (3) ... ... (dina)
Translation: The great king Vahaka, having caused the Caitya (the Stupa) at Macala-vahara to be constructed, (gave) ... ... ... received (from) four Karisas of fields. 
Citation: Paranavitana, 1934. p.143.

A protected site
The rock with archaeological ruins including hillocks covering ancient Chaithyas, ruins of buildings, ponds, flight of steps, inscriptions belonging to Veherakema Buddhist Religious Center in Kunukola village Grama Niladari Division Panama South in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala is an archaeological protected site declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014. 

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.24.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1934. Seven Sinhalese inscriptions of the seventh and eighth centuries. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. IV). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.142-143.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.918.
 
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Panama Wewe Vehera

Panama Wewe Vehera Viharaya (also known as Panama Wewa Viharaya or Panama Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated near Panama Wewa in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

History
As the presence of drip-ledged caves with early-Brahmi inscriptions, the history of this site runs back to the pre-Christian era (Nicholas, 1963). Inscriptions belonging to the 5-7th centuries A.D. at the site reveal its ancient name as Panava-rajama-vahara, situated in the subdivision named Vajana (Nicholas, 1963). 
 
Period: 2nd century B.C.                         Script: Old Sinhala                         Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Parumaka Tisha puta parumaka Adi-liya lene shagasha
Translation: The cave of chief Adili, the son of chief Tissa (given) to Sangha
Referenece: Medhananda, 2003

A protected site
The monastery complex, where the ruins of ancient buildings hillocks covering Chaithyas, inscriptions, caves, ponds and archaeological evidence are scattered, at the place called “Wewevehera” belonging to Mangalagama village in Grama Niladari Division Panama South in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala is an archaeological protected site declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014. 

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.125-129.
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.22.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.918.
 
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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Manankattiya Wewa

Manankattiya Wewa is a reservoir situated in Manankattiya in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. It is located about 32 km south-east of Anuradhapura and 7 km west of Hurulu Wewa.

History
This tank has been identified as the ancient Mahanikhavatti tank built by King Vasabha [(67-111 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. In the past, it had been called by several names such as Mahanikhavitti, Manakati, and Manikawati (Nicholas, 1963).

The reservoir
The bund of the reservoir is about 5,300 ft. long (Arumugam, 1969). It has one spill and two sluices (Arumugam, 1969). 

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.316.
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.171.

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Hiriwadunna Wewa

Hiriwadunna Wewa is a reservoir situated in Hiriwadunna in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. 

History
This tank has been identified as the ancient Aggivaddhamanaka tank built by King Vasabha [(67-111 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. In the past, it had been called by several names such as Abhivaddhamanaka, Akvadunna and Abivadunna (Nicholas, 1963). The Habarana inscription of the 3rd century mentions this tank by the name Agivadamana Wawi (Nicholas, 1963).

References
1) Muller, E., 1883. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. London. pp.41-42, 110.
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.173.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Sithra Velayutha Swamy Kovil, Kovil Porathivu

Sithra Velayutha Swamy Kovil is a Hindu shrine situated in Kovil Porathivu in Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka.

History
According to local tradition, the area where the present temple stands was a well-developed realm of Mandu Nagan who reigned in Nagan Cholai near Mandur (Arumugam, 1991). It is said that the Hindu temples and stately palaces in this area were destroyed and the region become to be named Kali-thesam later (Arumugam, 1991). In the 12th century, when a king named Mahinda was ruling Sri Lanka, the eastern region was looked after by a local chieftain called Mathi Suthan dwelling in Kali-thesam (Arumugam, 1991). He is said to have constructed a temple for deity Murukan named Sithra Velayutha Swamy Kovil at Porathivu with the recruited sculptors and artists from Thondai Nadu in South India (Arumugam, 1991). 

In the course of centuries, due to neglect and devastation, the temple went into ruins. However, the Velayutha Swamy deity of that temple was installed in the present Sithra Velayutha Swamy Kovil erected by Nagappa Chettiyar at Kovil Porathivu (Arumugam, 1991).

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.101.

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Visnu Devale No. 3

Visnu Devalaya No. 3 is a ruined Hindu temple situated near the bank of Parakrama Samudraya Reservoir in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

History
The construction date or the builder of this shrine is not known. However, it is believed to have been constructed during the Cola Period of Sri Lanka [(1017-1070 A.D.) Arumugam, 1991].
 
The temple
Only the stone pillars and some brickworks of the original temple remain at the site. The 40 ft. long temple had been enclosed by a walled enclosure of about 150 ft. long and 100 ft. wide (Arumugam, 1991). The Moolsathanam of the shrine is 8 ft. square and is joined by an Artha-mandapam of the same size opening out to a 25 ft. long Maha-mandapam (Arumugam, 1991). A statue of God Visnu, about 3 ft. 9 inches high, was unearthed from the site (Arumugam, 1991). It has four arms and three of them carry the traditional emblems; the Sakkaram, conch and lotus (Arumugam, 1991). The fourth arm is lifted in Abhaya (blessing) pose (Arumugam, 1991).
 
Two other shrines dedicated to Goddess Kali and God Siva (Siva Devale No. 4) are found in the vicinity of this shrine.
 
See also
References
1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.87.

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Kannathiddy Kali Kovil

Kannathiddy Kali Kovil
Photo credit: Google street view

Kannathiddy Kali Kovil is a Hindu shrine situated in Kannathiddy in Vannarpannai in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to the goddess Kali, one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon.

History
This temple was built in about 1782 by the Sthapathy artists and sculptures who were recruited for the construction of Vannarpannai Sivan Kovil by Vaithilinga Chettiyar from India (Arumugam, 1991). It was renovated and rebuilt in 1800 by the Vishvakula gold craftsmen and merchants sponsored by Pathar families in the area (Arumugam, 1991). More renovations were done to the temple in 1918, 1940, and 1970 (Arumugam, 1991).

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.58.

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Veyil Ugantha Pillaiyar Temple

Veyil Ugantha Pillaiyar Temple
Photo credit: Google street view

Veyil Ugantha Pillaiyar Temple is a Hindu shrine situated in Nallur in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

History
According to Yalpana Vaipava Malai, the Chola prince Vijaya Kulangai (or Kulang-kay-ariyan or Singka-ariyan) who is said to be the first ruler of the Arya Chakravarti dynasty developed Nallur in Jaffna as his capital city in the 13th century (Arumugam, 1991; Britto, 1879). Expecting to receive divine protection for his city, Kulangai erected temples for deities in the four directions of it (Arumugam, 1991). As the belief of many, Veyil Ugantha Pillaiyar temple is the one that was erected in the eastern approach to the city (Arumugam, 1991).

As the destiny of other Hindu temples in Jaffna, this temple is believed to have been destroyed by the Portuguese when the Jaffna fell into their hands in 1621 (Arumugam, 1991). The present temple at the site is a recent structure built for the worship of Vinayaka Murthi (Arumugam, 1991).

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.3.
2) Britto, C., 1879. The Yalpana-Vaipava-Malai or The history of the Kingdom of Jaffna: Translated from the Tamil, with an appendix and a glossary by C. Britto. Colombo. p.14.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Malagammana Viharaya

Malagammana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Malagammana village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

History
This temple is said to have been constructed during the reign of Buvanekabahu IV (1344-1353 A.D.). It is believed that the necklace of a queen had been enshrined at the Tempita Viharaya of this temple which was destroyed in 1818 by a fire (Abeyawardana, 2004). However, it was reconstructed by 1872 by Nugawela Disawa (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.98.
 
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Alawathugoda Saman Devalaya

Alawathugoda Saman Devalaya
Alawathugoda Saman Devalaya is a Devalaya shrine situated in Alawatugoda village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It has been dedicated to God Sumana Saman, a Buddhist deity who is the patron of Sri Pada mountain. 

History
This site was originally a Buddhist Vihara and a Saman Devalaya was attached to it later by a Kandyan king as a distance view of sacred Sri Pada mountain can be obtained from this spot (Abeyawardana, 2004). During the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782 A.D.), the annual Perahera ceremony of this Devalaya was started (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
According to the belief of locals, King Valagamba had used this place as a hiding spot during the period of Tamil invasion (Rajapakse, 2016; Senanayaka, 2018).

The site
Except for the Devalaya shrine, a Stupa, two-storeyed Viharaya building and a Bo tree can be found at the site. Several stone pillars which are believed to be the remains of ancient Buddhist Viharaya at this place are presently given the evidence for the antiquity of this site (Abeyawardana, 2004). According to the belief of some, the original Saman Devalaya is buried in the land adjoining the Bo tree (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A protected site
The Alawatugoda Saman Devale premises and its ancient buildings and other archaeological remains situated within the limits of Alawatugoda Grama Niladhari Division in the Akurana Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government notification published on 8 April 2009.

Attribution
1) This image (Alawathugoda Saman Devalaya, Akurana 002) has been released into the public domain by its creator, අනුරාධ.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.105.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.143-144.
3) Senanayaka, P., 2018. Senkadagala Mahanuwara pradeshaye peranima Bauddha Vihara Arama (In Sinhala). Samodhana, The Journal of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol.7 (1). pp.55-83.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1597. 8 April 2009. p.445.

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Kundasale Narendrasinghe Raja Maha Viharaya

Kundasale Sri Narendrasinghe Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kundasale in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The ruins of the ancient provincial palace of King Vira Parakrama Narendrasinghe (1707-1739 A.D.) are found in close proximity to this temple.
 
History
The history of this temple can be dated back to the reign of King Vira Parakrama Narendrasinghe [(1707-1739 A.D.) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Senanayaka, 2018] However, according to details given in Kundasale Vihara Sannasa, this temple was established by King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1782) in Saka Year 1676 [(1754 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranawella, 2015]. It is said that the king had ordered to build an image house at this place during a visit to the royal park in Kundasale located near the bank of Mahaweli Ganga river (Abeyawardana, 2004; Ranawella, 2015). He created a red-sandalwood standing image of Buddha plated with gold and a white-sandalwood casket filled with relics to be deposited in this image house (Ranawella, 2015). The completed shrine was bestowed by him to the members of the lineage of pupils of Rev. Anunayaka Dhammarakkhita of Rambukwella in 1754 (Ranawella, 2015).

The image house
As described in the Kundasale Vihara Sannasa, the image house built by the king was 11 cubits long, 5 cubits wide and had a front pavilion measuring 9 cubits in length (Ranawella, 2015). The present image house at Kundasale temple is complementary to that description. It has two sections; the main image house building and a drumming hall in front. The main image house building has 16 masonry pillars and the drumming hall has 10 wooden columns (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

The inner shrine of the image house can be entered through a decorative Makara Thorana (dragon arch). A seated Buddha statue flanked by four standing Buddha images is found inside it. The walls of the shrine room are filled with murals of the Kandyan style (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.109.
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. pp.98,155.
3) Ranawella, S., 2015. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. IX. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-98-8. pp.37-41.
4) Senanayaka, P., 2018. Senkadagala Mahanuwara pradeshaye peranima Bauddha Vihara Arama (In Sinhala). Samodhana, The Journal of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol.7 (1). pp.55-83.

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Aththaragama Raja Maha Viharaya

Aththaragama Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Aththaragama Pothgul Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Attaragama village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.
 
History
This temple, developed under the patronage of the kings of the Kandyan Kingdom, is said to have been established during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Rajapakse, 2016]. However, the name of this temple is mentioned in the Nampotha, an ancient text written after the 14th century. Also, some antiquities such as the Siri Pathul Gal (Buddha's Footprints) found in the temple premises indicate that this temple has a history dating back to more than 1750 A.D. (Senanayaka, 2018).

The Pothgula (library)
The temple is popularly called "Pothgul Viharaya" because of its old "library building". According to available epigraphic evidence, this library has been established in the 18th century (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The building

The library building mainly has characteristic features of the Hindu and Dutch architectural traditions (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The facade of it is decorated with beautiful masonry mouldings such as human and animal figures, floral designs and other mythical symbols. A small Stupa has been built on the top of the building.

A protected site
The Stupa, Atu Vihara-geya, Potgul Viharaya and other monuments situated in Aththaragama Raja Maha Vihara premises in No. 480, Aththaragama Grama Niladhari Division in Harispattuwa Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

References
1) 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.98.
2) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. p.97.
3) Senanayaka, P., 2018. Senkadagala Mahanuwara pradeshaye peranima Bauddha Vihara Arama (In Sinhala). Samodhana, The Journal of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol.7 (1). pp.55-83.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Aralaganwila Wewa

Aralaganwila Wewa is a reservoir situated in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka. 

History
This tank which was in a state of ruins was restored in 1956 (Arumugam, 1969). 

The reservoir
The bund of the reservoir is about 4,300 ft. long and the water is extending in an area of about 250 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969). It has one spill and one sluice (Arumugam, 1969). 

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.194.

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Ketapitiya Purana Viharaya

Ketapitiya Purana Viharaya
Photo credit: Google street view

Ketapitiya Purana Viharaya (also known as Ketapitiya Tempita Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Kotaligoda village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.
 
History
This temple is believed to have been constructed during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1798-1815 A.D.) and renovated in 1948 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Ketapitiya Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main attraction of this temple with archaeological value. It is a two-stored building built with brick and mortar. The upper floor is used as an image house while the ground floor is a preaching hall. The upper floor is supported on brick pillars and wooden beams instead of usual rock pillars.

The solid base, arched openings, decorative plaster works on the external walls of this building have made it a rare example of a Kandyan Period image house (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Inside the image house is a large seated Buddha statue accompanied by two figures of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha. It is said that the eyes of this statue had gems in them but they are not found today (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). A smaller seated Buddha statue in meditating posture is found on the right side of this statue. Also, a few standing Buddha statues are found facing each other at both left and right walls.

A protected site
The Buddhist shrine situated in Katapitiya ancient Vihara premises in Kotaligoda Grama Niladhari Division in Yatinuwara Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

References
1) 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.22.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.524.
3) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ethimale Wewa

Ethimale Wewa is a reservoir situated in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. 

History
This tank has been constructed in an ancient district called Uruvela-mandala or Etumala (Nicholas, 1963). Queen Sugala, the last ruler of Ruhuna is said to have been defeated here by the forces of King Parakramabahu I [(1153–1186 A.D.) Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963]. Although Sugala managed to escape from the battlefield, the Tooth and the Bowl Relic of the Buddha in her possession were captured by Parakramabahu I (Nicholas, 1963).

The tank Ethimale Wewa has been identified with the ancient Uruvela Vapi located in the Uruwela-mandala District (Arumugam, 1969). It is said to have been restored by King Parakramabahu I (Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963). The present tank was restored in 1962 (Arumugam, 1969).

The reservoir
The bund of the reservoir is about 3,950 ft. long and the water is extending in an area of about 470 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969). It has one spill and one sluice (Arumugam, 1969). 

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.145.
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.53.

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Heenatipana Ambalama

The Heenatipana Ambalama (also known as Mawanella Molligoda Pinkumbura Ambalama) is an old wayside rest situated in Mawanella Molligoda village in Kagella District, Sri Lanka. 

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. As mentioned on one of its pillars, this Ambalama has been built in 1947.

Located at the edge of a paddy field, this Ambalama has been built on a stone base of about 2.5 ft. high. Large well-cut blocks of stone have been used for the base. Four stone pillars at the corners of the base support the pitched roof covered with flat-clay tiles (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The upper and lower parts of the pillars are square and the middle part is octagonal in shape. The capitals of them are made of wood decorated with Pekada carvings.

An inscription inscribed on one of the pillars of this building contain details about the construction of this Ambalama. It can be read as follows; 
Text: ශ්‍රී බු.ව. 2490, මෙය හීනටිපන යූ. බී. හඳකුඹුරේ විසින් කරවා 25.4.47 වැනි දින නිමවන ලදී.
Transcript: Sri Buddhist Year 2490 , This, made by U.B. Handakumbure, was completed on 25.4.47.
References
1) 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.160.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Bothale Raja Maha Viharaya

Sri Gotabaya Raja Maha Viharaya (or popularly known as Bothale Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Bothale village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple runs back to the Anuradhapura Period. According to folklore, King Gotabhaya (254-267 A.D.) wanted to build a Viharaya at Attanagalla after King Sirisamghabodhi (252-254 A.D.) gave up his life there. He obtained a sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura to plant there and started the journey with his crew. On their way to Attanagalla, as the night approached, the group decided to spend that day at the village where the present temple stands. They placed the Bo sapling safely on slightly higher ground and spent the night. On the next day when the king and his crew were about to leave the place, they observed that the Bo sapling couldn't be moved from the ground where they placed it. Overjoyed by this incident, the king ordered his crew to stop there to perform the Bodhi tree rituals. From then on, the people used to identify this area by the name "Botale" which means "the plateau of Bo tree". Presently, the Bo tree at this temple has been protected as a monument by the Department of Archaeology.

A protected site
The old Bodhi tree and other ancient monuments situated in the premises of Gothabhaya Raja Maha Vihara in Bothale village in the Hapitigama Grama Niladari Division in the Divisional Secretariat Division of Mirigama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 July 1966.

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14702. 1 July 1966.
 
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Kaluwila Mee Tree

Kaluwila Mee Tree
Photo credit: Google street view

The Kaluwila Mee Tree (also known as Kaluwila Mee Gasa) was an old tree situated in Kaluwila village in Anuradhapura District Sri Lanka. The tree which was standing on the bund of Kaluwila Wewa fell down on the ground in March 2017.

It was a Mee tree (scientific name: Madhuca longifolia), a tree belongs to the family Sapotaceae. As per belief of locals, this tree had a history associated with Robert Knox (1641-1720 A.D.), an English sea captain who lived in Sri Lanka for 19 years as a captive of Kandyan King Rajasinghe II (1635-1687 A.D.). Knox is said to have rested under this tree and a reference to this tree is found in his manuscript "An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon".
 
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Paramaulla Geta Kumbuk Tree

Paramaulla Geta Kumbuk Tree
Photo credit: Google street view

The Paramaulla Geta Kumbuk Tree situated in Paramaulla village in Kurunegala District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Alawwa-Maharagama road near the junction that leads the road to Paramaulla Tempita Viharaya.

It is a Kumbuk tree (scientific name: Terminalia arjuna), a tree of the genus Terminalia. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, the history of this tree is related to King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 A.D.) of Dambadeniya. It is said that this tree stood on the bund of the small reservoir called Paramaulla Wewa, which is now turned into paddy fields. The bund of this tank now served as a part of the road.
 
Due to the knotty appearance of the lower part of the trunk, this tree is known among the locals as Geta-Kumbuk Gasa. Kumbuk trees are said to have water purification abilities and therefore, they were planted on river banks and reservoir bunds since ancient times.

An Ambalama (a traditional resting place) has been built under the shade of this tree by locals to accommodate wayfarers who travel to distant places.

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Leonard Woolf's Tamarind Tree

Leonard Woolf's Tamarind Tree
Photo credit: Google street view

The Leonard Woolf's Tamarind Tree (also known as Leonard Woolf's Siyambala Tree) situated in Meegahajandura village in Hambantota District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Kumaragama-Mahagalwawa-Meegahajandura road near the Meegahajandura Ayurvedic Hospital.

It is a Tamarind tree (scientific name: Tamarindus indica), a leguminous tree bearing edible fruits. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is historically important as it is related to Leonard Woolf (1880-1969), a British political theorist, author, publisher and civil servant. He moved to Sri Lanka in 1904 and served as an assistant government agent in the Southern Province administering the District of Hambantota from 1908 to 1911. It is said that, under this tree, Woolf listened to minor complaints and solved disputes.



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Monday, September 20, 2021

Balana Kadawatha Jack Tree

Balana Kadawatha Jack Tree
Photo credit: Google street view

The Kadawatha Jack Tree (also known as Kadawatha Kos Tree) situated in Balana village in Kandy District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Kadugannawa-Balana road near the ancient Balana Fort.

It is a jack tree (scientific name: Artocarpus heterophyllus), a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is believed to be more than 500 years old. As believed by local people, this tree has shaded the "Kadawatha", the tax-collecting point established near the ancient Balana Fort, a strategic rock fortress and an outpost of the Kandyan Kingdom (1469-1815 A.D.).



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Pilawala Tamarind Tree

Pilawala Tamarind Tree
The Pilawala Tamarind Tree (also known as Pilawala Siyambala Tree) situated in Pilawala village in Kandy District is believed to be one of the historic and ancient trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is located on the wayside of Sirimalwatta-Yakgahapitiya-Menikhinna road near the junction between Pilawala Maha Vidyalaya and its playground.

It is a Tamarind tree (scientific name: Tamarindus indica), a leguminous tree bearing edible fruits. According to the information board set up by the Central Environment Authority, this tree is believed to be about 300 years old. As believed by local people, God Natha, the regional deity of Dumbara valley and God Pitiye Bandara have rested under the shade of this tree. It is also believed that the flower garden of King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendra Singha (1707–1739 A.D.) of Kandy was located near this tree.


Attribution
1) Ancient Tamarind Tree (IMG_3729b), and IMG_3730b by Denish C are licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Rameswaram Inscription of Nissankamalla

The Rameswaram Inscription of King Nissankamalla is a 12th-century Sinhalese inscription discovered from the premises of Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India. 

The stone seat
The inscription has been engraved on the surface (of about 3 ft. 10 inches) of a stone seat (Paranavitana, 1970). The writing has been commenced at the upper right corner of the seat and then it flows rightwards on all four sides until a space of 5 inches square is left at the centre of the surface (Paranavitana, 1970). This space is filled with a lotus and its petals once had Tamil letters engraved on them (Paranavitana, 1970). A number of stone seat inscriptions of King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) written in this style have been found at Polonnaruwa and other places in Sri Lanka (Paranavitana, 1970).

Content
The script and the language of the inscription are Sinhala of the second half of the 12th century A.D. (Paranavitana, 1970). Although it is not dated, the inscription contains a eulogy of a king styled Kalinga Chakravarti (Paranavitana, 1970). This king who has been identified as King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa is referred to in the chronicle Culavamsa by the name Kitti Nissanka and in his inscriptions by the name of Nissankamalla with additions of various epithets (Paranavitana, 1970).

Although this inscription is not fully readable, it contains some details about Nissankamalla's tours of inspections within his kingdom, the Tulabhara gifts (donations of wealth equal to his weight), the unification of Sangha, the restoration of Mahathupa at Anuradhapura, the standardization of the grain-tax, the introduction of copper-plate grants, the expedition to the Pandya country and the construction of a shrine at Rameswaram (Paranavitana, 1970). Details similar to this have been found in a number of his inscriptions (see: Kiri Vehera Slab Inscription, Dambulla Rock Inscription, Galpota Inscription) established in various parts of Sri Lanka (Wickremasinghe, 1912; Wickremasinghe, 1928). As further revealed in the Rameswaram inscription, Nissankamalla has visited the islands of Puvagu (modern Pungudutivu), Mininak (Maninaga), Kappa and Kara (modern Karaitivu) during his expeditions within the realm (Paranavitana, 1970).

References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Ramesvaram inscription of Nissankamalla. Epigraphia Indica. Vol. XXXVI. pp.23-32.
2) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.121-135. 
3) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.98-123. 

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Panadura Rankoth Viharaya

Rankoth Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Panadura in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

History
The beginning
The temple was established in 1810 as a small cottage (Abeyawardana, 2002). According to folklore, this temple has been built on a ground that gives victory for the weaker party. It is said that the residents in the area thought to establish a temple on this ground after seeing an attack on a cobra by a multitude of frogs (Abeyawardana, 2002). In the beginning, the temple was called Galwala Pansala or Galkande Vihara, but after the painting of the pinnacle of the Stupa in gold in the year 1890, it was begun to know as Rankoth Vihara which means the "Gold-pinnacled temple" (Abeyawardana, 2002). Before the end of the 19th century, the temple developed into a fully-fledged Vihara in the area. The two-storey residence of monks was built in 1886 and the works of the Stupa were finished in 1894 (Abeyawardana, 2002).
 
Panadura-vadaya
The preliminary discussions before the commencement of the popular debate between Buddhism and Christianity called Panadura-vadaya (1873) are said to have been held at the premises of this temple. The cause for this debate arose when Walpita Gunaratana Tissa Thera, the then incumbent of Rankoth Vihara was compelled to address the arguments raised by the nearby Wesleyan Chapel against the Buddhist faith (Abeyawardana, 2002). These arguments finally led the Buddhist monks to come together and hold an open debate between the two parties; Christians and Buddhists. The debate was held at Panadura on two days in August 1873 and Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera (1823-1890) represented the side of the Buddhists as the main debater (Goonatilake, 2004).

The impact of the debate was phenomenal, both locally and internationally. Reports on this historic debate were published in the outside world and as a result of that some western personalities such as Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), the co-founder of the Theosophical Society, came to Sri Lanka and heavily involved in reviving Buddhism in the country (Goonatilake, 2004). He visited Rankoth Viharaya in May 1880 (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The Pirivena
Rankoth Viharaya also gained its recognition as a prominent education centre of Buddhist learning. Beruwala Sri Niwasa Thera, Kahandamodara Sri Piyaratna Thera, Ambalangoda Dhammakusala Thera were a few scholarly monks graduated from the Pirivena of Rankoth Viharaya (Abeyawardana, 2002). This temple was also served as the residence of the renowned Mahayana and Sanskrit scholar Prof. Moratuwa Sasararatna Thera (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The temple
The temple today is a fully-fledged Buddhist place of worship. The temple ground comprises two terraces, the upper and lower. The Stupa, Bodhi tree, image house, belfry, and a library are located on the upper terrace while the dwellings of monks and other ancillary buildings are on the lower terrace. 

The image house
The image house (or the Buddha shrine) of Rankoth Viharaya is archaeologically important. It consists of two parts; the inner shrine and the walled ambulatory area around it. The facade of the image house is highly decorated with plaster mouldings. The walls and the ceiling of the ambulatory have been filled with paintings depicting Jataka stories, hell, and life stories of the Buddha such as Mara Parajaya (the defeat of Mara), Buddha Chithakaya (the cremation of the Buddha), and Datu Bedima (the distribution of relics).

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine of Panadura Rankot Vihare situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 686-B-Pattiya South, in the Panadura Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government notification published on 6 June 2008.

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.98-99.
2) Goonatilake, S., 2004. Pānadurā Vādaya and Its Consequences: Mischievous Association with Fundamentalism. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 49, pp.87-118. 
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.
 
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Yataththawala Tempita Viharaya

Yataththawala Tempita Viharaya
Yataththawala Tempita Viharaya (also known as Yataththawala Sri Bodhivamsarama Raja Maha Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Yataththawala village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.
 
History
As the presence of a Tempita Viharaya (a temple of pillars), the history of this temple can be dated back to the Kandyan Period.

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Yataththawala Tempita Viharaya
Yataththawala Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main attraction of this temple with archaeological value. It has been built upon 6 stone pillars and a fully enclosed Hewisi Mandapaya (the pavilion of drummers) has been attached to the front of it. The deck of the building is made of wood and can be approached through a staircase. A narrow ambulatory has been built around the inner shrine room that preserves the Buddha statues. 

The inner shrine room can be entered through a door decorated with a Makara Thorana (dragon arch). A seated Buddha statue accompanied by two figures of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha, are found inside this shrine room. Two standing statues of Buddha with the gesture of Vitharka Mudra are also found facing each other at both left and right walls. Above the heads of the two figures of Sariputta and Moggallana are two clocks with Roman numerals depicting times 9.08 (left) and 7.12 (right).  The year 1898 is depicted on one clock (right) along with the name of someone, probably the artist. 
 
The outer walls of the shrine are decorated with paintings depicting Arahants, Mara Yuddhaya (defeat of Mara) and the tale of Sasa Jatakaya.

A protected site
The Tampita image house (image house built on stone piles) and Hewisi Mandapaya belonging to the Yataththawela Bodhiwansarama Purana Viharaya premises situated in No.532 Yataththawela Grama Niladhari Division in the Pannala Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 24 July 2009.

Statues & paintings
.
Attribution
1) LankaPradeepa.com would like to thank Chamath Perera for providing necessary photographs that are related to the subject of this article.
 
References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1612. 24 July 2009. p.1023.
2) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Okanda Devalaya

Okanda Devalaya
Okanda Devalaya (Tamil: Ukanthamalai Murugan Kovil) is a Devalaya shrine situated on a hillock in Okanda village in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. It has been dedicated to Murugan or Kataragama, a deity who is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. 

History
Ancient Okanda Viharaya
The present Devalaya shrine has been built on the premises of an ancient Buddhist temple called Okanda Viharaya (Medhananda, 2003). The ruins of an ancient dilapidated brick Stupa and other monastic buildings are found on the top of the hillock and most of them have been destroyed today (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013).

Beginning of the Kataragama Devalaya
The Devalaya has been built in the southern part of the hillock. It is said to have been started after the formation of Panamapattu in about 1800 by a Rate Mahattaya (traditional office and title from the Kandian Kingdom) named Siyathu (Medhananda, 2003). In the beginning, it was maintained by Sinhalese devotees and the deity Kataragama was worshipped there (Medhananda, 2003). However, after the 1970s, the Sinhalese presence was gradually decreased from the site mainly due to the emergence of LTTE terrorism (Sri Lanka Civil War: 1983-2009) in the north and eastern regions of the country (Medhananda, 2003).

Present Murugan Kovil
God Kataragama is identified with Lord Murugan by Tamil Hindus. Presently, this site is maintained by them. Besides the temple of Murugan, several small shrines dedicated to other deities of the Hindu pantheon have been built by them over the hillock.  According to local Hindu beliefs which are usually based on their traditional mystic emotions and religious literary works, the history of this site is related to Lord Murugan and his consort Valli Amma. Okanda is believed by them as the location where Murugan landed on the shore with Valli Amma in a golden boat. The boat is said to be turned into a rock that is still visible on the nearby Okanda beach.
 
The name board of this shrine was changed from Okanda Devalaya to Murugan Kovil in May 2002 (Medhananda, 2003). Presently, this site has become the main stand for the Tamil devotees performing pilgrimage to Kataragama Devalaya through Kumana Jungle.

A protected site
The rock with archaeological evidence at Okanda Dewala premises (latitude 06º 65089' N and longitude 081º 72000' E) in Okanda village in Grama Nildari Division No. PP 02 Panama South in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Lahugala is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.
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. p.102.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.918.
3) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. p.35.

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