Veherakema Buddhist Ruins, Panama

Veherakema Buddhist Ruins, Panama
Photo credit: rafael pedro, Google Street View

Veherakema Archaeological Site (Sinhala: වෙහෙරකෙම බෞද්ධ නටඹුන්) 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.

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. 

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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This page was last updated on 2 January 2023

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