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Vathiri Pillayar Kovil Archaeological Ruins

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil
The ruined Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil is a Hindu temple situated in Vathiri village in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

The ruins of several ancient structures such as a pond, a moat, an Ambalama (an old wayside rest), a well and several other stone creations are found within the temple premises as well as on the opposite side of the road in front of it. 

Vathiri Madam
The ruins of an old Madam (or Ambalama) can be seen on the opposite side of the road. The roof of this building is no more but six hexagonal pillars and part of the walls made of limestone are still existing. Near this building is a well probably made for the water convenience of the people who stayed in the Madam.

Madams are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, they were spread all over the country.

Madams in the Jaffna Peninsula is generally different from similar structures in other parts of the country. It consists of five components given below (Ragupathy, 1987);
1) Madam: the Ambalama itself
2) Sumaithangi: a stone platform used to keep the goods carried on the head, shoulder or waist of the traveller. Traditionally, the stone is said to be erected as a symbol of prayer, vowing for the soul of a mother who dies pregnant to rest in peace.
3) Aavuranchikkal: a stone erected for the cattle to relieve themselves from an itch called Thinavu by rubbing against the stone. It was constructed by means of a single stone with a height of 3 or 4 feet.
4) Keni: a big well meant for the cattle to quench their thirst.
5) Kinaru: a well constructed to quench their thirst of both people and cattle.

A protected site
The old pond and moat in the Temple of God Gana (Pillayaar), doss house, well and other stone creations nearby in the No. 377 of village Vathiri in the Nelliyadi East Grama Niladhari Division in the Karawaddi Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 30 December 2011.

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil
The modern Vathiri Pillayar Kovil (Photo credit: Google street view)

1) Ragupathy, P. 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna, An archaeological survey. Published by Mrs. Thilimalar Ragupathy. Madras. p.156. 
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1090.

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This page was last updated on 6 November 2022

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