Vallipuram Alvar Vishnu Kovil

Vallipuram Alvar Vishnu Kovil
Vallipuram Alvar Visnu Kovil (Sinhala: වල්ලිපුරම් කෝවිල; Tamil: மவல்லிபுரம் கோயில்) is a Hindu shrine situated in Vallipuram village in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Remains of an ancient Buddhist site
The famous gold sheet known as Vallipuram Ran Sannasa was discovered in 1936 beneath the foundation of an ancient structure on a land adjacent to the present Vallipuram Vishnu temple (Dias et al., 2016; Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1983). It records the construction of a Buddhist Viharaya at a place called Badakara Atana by a person named Piyaguka Tissa, when the minister Isigiraya was the Governor of Nagadipa, during the reign of King Vasabha [(67-111 A.D.) Dias et al., 2016; Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1983]. The plate is presently preserved in the Anuradhapura Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

Besides the gold sheet, other ruins such as some funerary urns, bricks, pottery, coins and a Buddha statue of stone in the Amaravati style were discovered at the site (Veluppillai, 1981). The 2.5 m tall Buddha statue remained in a lumber room of this Hindu temple until J. P. Lewis (the Government Agent for the Northern Province in 1903-1904) obtained it from the caretaker priest and installed under a Bodhi tree located in the Jaffna Old Park in 1902 (Schalk, 1996). In 1906, the statue was presented by Governor Sir Henry Blake to the King of Siam (present Thailand), who was particularly anxious to have it (Schalk, 1996). The statue is now preserved in a Buddhist Vihara (Wat Benchamabophit, which is known by tourists as "the Marble Temple) in Bangkok in Thailand (Dias et al., 2016; Schalk, 1996). A replica of this statue is also being displayed at the National Museum of Colombo.

According to Hindu mythology which is usually based on their traditional mystic emotions and religious literary works, the history of this temple is related to a pious lady named Lavalli Ammaiyar who had been afflicted with a curse and was hence unable to have children (Wijebandara, 2014). As the folklore, Ammaiyar was advised to go to this place and perform certain rituals (Wijebandara, 2014). One day when a fisherman of the village caught a large fish, it had suddenly jumped into the arms of Ammaiyar and turned into the shape of an infant looking like the God Vishnu (Wijebandara, 2014). Then the infant vanished and appeared again as an old soothsayer and gave to the people a Vishnu Cakkaram [(a symbol of God Vishnu) Wijebandara, 2014]. It is said that, this Cakkaram was enshrined by the people at the present Hindu shine (Wijebandara, 2014).

1) PA212890 and PA212883 by Ghostface Buddha is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.166-167, 204-205.
2) 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.421-425,520.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Vallipuram Gold Sheet Inscription. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.79-81.
4) Schalk, P., 1996. The Vallipuram Buddha Image" Rediscovered". Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 16, pp.295-312.
5) Veluppillai, A., 1981. Tamils in Ancient Jaffna and Vallipuram Gold Plate. Journal of Tamil Studies, 19, pp.1-14
6) Wijebandara, I.D.M., 2014. Yapanaye Aithihasika Urumaya (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN-978-955-9159-95-7. pp.125-127.

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This page was last updated on 2 January 2023

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