Ancient City of Panduwasnuwara

Panduwasnuwara Archaeological Site (Sinhala: පඬුවස්නුවර පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය) is situated in Kottambapitiya in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. It was known in the past as Nuwara-kele (the forest of the city) and Agala-kele Mukalana (the forest of the moat) but with the rapid opening up of the area, these names have been forgotten (Devendra, 1956). Presently, Panduwasnuwara 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 capital of the principality of Dakkhinadesa, founded by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) when he was a sub-king of this territory (Devendra, 1956; Nicholas, 1963; Prematilleka, 1990). 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 Polonnaruwa City.

It is not known how long this Parakramapura existed as an active city. The slab inscription of King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) confirms that the Palace Complex at the site existed in good condition during his visit (Devendra, 1956). The hoard of coins of King Dharmasokadeva (1208-1209 A.D.) that was found in a Stupa site south of the Citadel indicates that the city was active during the reign of that king. Probably, this city was destroyed by the hordes of the Kalinga invader Magha (1216-1236 A.D.) who conquered the island in the 13th century A.D (Devendra, 1956).

Is this the ancient city of King Panduvasudeva?
The remains excavated within this ancient city have not yielded any archaeological evidence to connect the site with the hoary times of King Panduvasudeva (c. 504 B.C.), the 2nd King of Sri Lanka who is popularly said to have resided here (Devendra, 1956). 

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 stone pillars containing inscriptions of the 9th century A.D. are believed to have been brought here from elsewhere as a building material for the Citadel wall (Devendra, 1956). The remains of a large palace building and several 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 northeast had been built to admit a sheet of water within the palace complex to form a pond similar to the Dikwewa of the Royal Park below the bund of Tissa Wewa in Anuradhapura (Devendra, 1956; Prematilleka, 1990). The gateway of the citadel has been built towards the east (Prematilleka, 1990). It comprises of two brick platforms built at right angles to the Citadel and the passage between them is nearly 12 ft. wide (Devendra, 1956). The wall had been plastered white on the outside and some patches of this plaster are still visible adhering to the wall on the exterior surface (Devendra, 1956).

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 on 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 is about one-quarter of the size of Minneriya Wewa (Devendra, 1956). It has been identified as the ancient Pandavapi or Panda Wewa restored by King Vijayabahu I [(1055-1110 A.D.) Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963]. It was enlarged and renamed as Parakrama Samudra (or Bana Samudra) by Parakramabahu I as a part of the development plan of his principality (Devendra, 1956; Nicholas, 1963). According to the belief of some, the present name "Panduwasnuwara" has 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 a 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 in the eastern direction. The Stupa is 9 m high and has a diameter of about 13.7 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Panduwasnuwara Palace Complex
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 on the site records that King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) visited this place and therefore, it is assumed that the palace existed in good condition during Nissankamalla's visit (Devendra, 1956). 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 on 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 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 are found inside the Garbagrha. The Bodhighara is a square-shaped building with a length of one side is 8 m (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Ruin Complex No. 4
Panduwasnuwara Tamil Slab Inscription
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 about 17.7 m long and 10.7 m wide (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011). It consists 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 in 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 the 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, and Buddha statues (Anulavati & Jayalath, 2011).

Panduwasnuwara Raja Maha Viharaya
The temple consists of several old monuments including a Kandyan Period  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 (Devendra, 1956; 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.

See also

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) Devendra, D. T., 1956. Guide to the Ancient Parakramapura now called Panduvas Nuvara. Archaeological Department. Colombo. pp.1-20.
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) 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.
7) 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.
8) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-30-5. pp.90-92.
9) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. pp.2,13-14,111.
10) The Gazette notification. no. 7851. 30 April 1931. 

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