Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ancient City of Panduwasnuwara

Panduwasnuwara Archaeological Site is situated in Kottambapitiya in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. It is one of the popular tourist sites in the country with a large number of ancient monuments dating from the Polonnaruwa Period.

Although this area is presently called Panduwasnuwara, it has been identified as ancient Parakramapura, the city of Dakkhinadesa, founded by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) when he was a sub-king of this territory (Prematilleka, 1990; Nicholas, 1963). Prince Parakramabahu I who ascended the throne of Dakkhinadesa following the death of Kitti Sri Megha in 1140, improved the infrastructure of this city as well as its military power. After a protracted civil war, he was finally able to secure power over the entire country around 1153 and remained in this position until his death in 1186. He ruled the country from his Capital at Polonnaruwa.
Ancient monuments
Most of the ruins scattered in Panduwasnuwara belong to the 12th century A.D. while some belong to the latter part of the Anuradhapura Period (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The remains of a large palace building and a number of Buddhist monasteries are found within the city limits. Each Buddhist monastery complex consists of Stupas, image houses, Bodhighara (Bodhi tree shrine) and dwellings built for the monks.
The city which is extending in a square area of 1056 ft. x 990 ft. is surrounded by a thick brick wall (Prematilleka, 1990). The wall towards the north-east had been built as to admit a sheet of water within the palace complex to form a pond (Prematilleka, 1990). The gateway of the citadel has been built towards the east (Prematilleka, 1990).

The Panduwasnuwara archaeological reserve can majorly be divided into 7 ruin complexes (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Ruin complex No. 1
This complex is situated to the north of the Chilaw-Kurunegala road. It consists of a Bodhighara, a monastic building and a part of the Panda Wewa tank (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Built on an elevated square-shaped platform, the Bodhighara had been used to shelter a Bodhi tree. The platform is 27 m in length and width and can be accessed through an entrance at its western side (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The Bodhighara on the platform is also square in shape with a length of 5.8 m on one side (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Panda Wewa tank
The breached tank situated close to this city has been identified as the ancient Pandavapi or Panda Wewa restored by King Vijayabahu I [(1055-1110 A.D.) Anuradha & Kumseari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963]. It was enlarged and renamed as Parakrama Samudra (or Bana Samudra) by Parakramabahu I as a part of his plan of development of his principality (Nicholas, 1963). According to the belief of some, the present name "Panduwasnuwara" has been evolved from the name of this tank (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Ruin complex No. 2
This ruin complex includes a Buddhist monastery, a Stupa, the museum building and the palace (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). 

The Stupa
The Stupa has been built on a stone-faced terrace of about 28.2 m long, 23.8 wide and 1.1 m high (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The entrance to the terrace is located at the eastern direction. The Stupa is 9 m high and has a diameter of about 13.7 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).
The palace complex consists of the central palace building, a brick rampart, a moat, a pond, the inscription of King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.), a well, the ruins of the Biso Maligaya and three other buildings (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). 
The palace building once belonged to King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011]. A slab inscription insitu site records that King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) visited this place. Surrounded by a brick rampart and a moat, the ground plan of the palace building is similar to the Parakramabahu I Palace at Polonnaruwa (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The brick rampart is 375 m long and 286 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).
Ruin complex No. 3
This ruin complex consists of the ruins of a Stupa, a Pirivena hall, a lavatory, a monastic building, an image house, a Bodhighara, and three unidentified buildings (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). These buildings are bounded by a brick rampart.
The Stupa
The Stupa has been built on a brick platform and the entrance is at its western side. The entrance consists of a flight of steps of about 3.5 m and a Sandakada Pahana [(a moonstone) Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011]. The remaining Stupa is 4.25 m high and has a circumference of about 36 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).
The Pirivena hall & the monastic building
The brick-built Pirivena is 12.6 m in length and 7.7 m in width (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). In the centre of it is a Mandapa of about 3.15 m long and 1.15 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The monastic building is 7.1 m in length and 4.5 m in width and has been erected over an elevated platform of about 10.5 m long and 9.9 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). 

The image house & the Bodhighara
The image house consists of two parts, viz; the Garbagrha, and the Mandapa (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The Mandapa is 4.5 m long and 3.3 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The remains of a lotus pedestal of an image is found inside the Garbagrha. The Bodhighara is a square-shaped building with the length of one side is 8 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Ruin complex No. 4
Enclosed by a brick wall, this consists of a monastery complex. It includes the ruins of a Stupa, an image house, a Tamil inscription and other monastery buildings.

The Stupa & the image house
The Stupa is built to the right side of the entrance and has been erected over an elevated circular-shaped platform. The image house has been built in accordance to the Gandhakuti type of the Anuradhapura period (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The brick-built seat inside the image house indicates that it once sheltered a seated Buddha statue (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).
Discovered in 1951, this Tamil inscription is presently erected in front of an ancient Buddhist monastery located south of the Panduwasnuwara Citadel. It records the benevolent deeds done by a commander named Kulantey Matimana Panjara during the reign of King Nissankamalla [(1187-1196 A.D.) Pillay, 1960].

Ruin complex No. 5
This ruin complex includes a Pachayathana monastery, Stupas, Bodhigharas, image houses, a Tempita Vihara and a Vatadageya (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). 
The Stupas
There are two Stupas. The first one has been built on a square-shaped platform about 22 m in length and width and 1.35 in height (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The second one has also been built on a square-shaped platform about 21 m in length and width (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

The image house
This is a brick-built building of about 17.7 m long and 10.7 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). It consist of two parts, the Mandapa and the Garbhagrha. The Mandapa is 4.75 m in length and 3.1 m in width (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

The Vatadageya has been built by encircling a small Stupa. The flight of steps of the entrance porch is placed towards the northern direction and is 1.7 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The length and the width of the entrance porch are 5.1 m and 4 m respectively (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). The Stupa is 3.3 m high and has a diameter of 8.2 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). Four flower altars have been placed at cardinal points of the Stupa.

Ruin complex No. 6
This complex consists of the Panduwasnuwara Tempita Viharaya, the Temple of the Tooth Relic, the chapter house, other unidentified buildings and artefacts such as inscriptions, Buddha statues (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). 

The temple consists of a number of old monuments including a Kandyan era Tempita Vihara, and a large number of pillar inscriptions belonging to the 9-10th century A.D. These inscriptions have been dated by scholars to the reigns of King Sena II (853-887 A.D.), King Udaya II (887-898 A.D.), King Kassapa IV (898-915 A.D.), King Kassapa V (915-923 A.D.), and King Dappula IV [(923-935 A.D.) Ranawella, 2001; Ranawella, 2004; Ranawella, 2005].
The Temple of the Tooth Relic
Also known as Dalada Medura, this was the building used to place the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. It is a rectangular building about 17.5 m in length and 8 m wide and has been built upon a stone-faced platform of about 1.3 m high (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Ruin complex No. 7
The ruin complex no. 7 consists of several ruined structures including the Ektem Maligaya. 

Ektem Maligaya
There is a circular embankment of earthwork within which several structures including the base of a circular-shaped structure called "Ektem Maligaya" or "Biso-Kotuwa" (Prematilleka, 1990). According to the most popular belief, it is the single-pillared building where Prince Unmada Citra, the daughter of Panduwasadeva (504-474 B.C.) was confined by her brothers (Prematilleka, 1990). However, no single archaeological evidence has been found so far from this site to prove that belief (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).
According to Paranavitana, this is the mythical Cakravata of the Universe where King Parakramabahu I was installed as Cakravarti, the Lord of the Universe (Prematilleka, 1990).

An archaeological reserve
The land plot named Panduwasnuwara Puravidya Sthanaya [F.V.P No 1690 Bathalegodawewa Lot  8,9,10,11 F.V.P. 1706 Lot No 1 Radadena; F.V.P. 1710 Lot 42½ F.V.P. 1711 Lot from 25 to 28; F.V.P. 1708 Lot 1,2,2½,3,25,26,28 L,28 D,29 A,42A 43, 48A 1,48,48 B the land known as Ambagahawewa (62 acres, 3 roods, 30.2 perches)] situated in Panduwasnuwara village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Panduwasnuwara West is an archaeological reserve, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 30 April 1931.

Panduwasnuwara .
See also

1) 1) Anulavati, K.M., Jayalath, V., 2011. Panduwasnuwara; Parakramapura (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-73-5. pp.1-19.
2) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.69-71.
3) Prematilleka, L., 1990. The architecture of the Polonnaruwa period 800-1200 A.D.. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.40-41.
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.104.
5) Pillay, K. K., 1960. A Tamil inscription from Panduvasnuvara: University of Ceylon Review (Vol: XVIII Nos 3 & 4). Ceylon University Press. pp. 157-162. 
6) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.24-25,138-143,228-230,351-357.
7) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-30-5. pp.90-92.
8) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. pp.2,13-14,111.
9) The Gazette notification. no. 7851. 30 April 1931. 

Location Map
This page was last updated on 18 January 2022
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