Rameswaram Inscription of Nissankamalla

The Rameswaram Inscription of King Nissankamalla (Sinhala: නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රජුගේ රාමේෂ්වරම් ගල් ආසන ලිපිය) 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 (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 considerable 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).

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), Kacci (Kaccativu) and Kara (modern Karaitivu) during his expeditions within the realm (Paranavitana, 1970; Ranawella, 2007).

1) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Ramesvaram inscription of Nissankamalla. Epigraphia Indica. Vol. XXXVI. pp.23-32.
2) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.117-125.
3) 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. 
4) 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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This page was last updated on 12 January 2023

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