Gavuta Pillar Inscriptions (Nissanka-Gavu)

Weligatta Gavuta Pillar Inscription of Nissankamalla
The Gavuta Pillar Inscriptions (Sinhala: ගාවුත ටැම් ලිපි) were the mileposts with an inscription set up by the Sri Lankan king Nissankamalla during his reign from 1187 to 1196 A.D. (Ranawella, 2007). They marked the distance of a Gavuta, a distance of about two miles (Ranawella, 2007). As they have been erected by Nissankamalla, on his measure they have been referred to as Nissanka-Gavu (Ranawella, 2007).

The epigraphist Dr. Edward Muller was the first to notice the existence of some of the inscriptions of this type (Ranawella, 2007). After Muller, Dr. Senarath Paranavitana and H.W. Codrington also discovered several Gavuta inscriptions scattered in Monaragala District (Ranawella, 2007). Presently, about 15 Gavuta-type pillar inscriptions have been recorded by the Department of Archaeology from various places between Veligatta in the south and Mullipotana near Trincomalee (Ranawella, 2007). Some of them have also been found in the Tamankaduwa region in Polonnaruwa District (Ranawella, 2007). The localities of Gavuta inscriptions indicate that at that time there was a highway running between Trincomalee and Mahanagahula in Ruhuna (Ranawella, 2005). The route of this ancient road fell via the Buttala, Tamankaduwa, Polonnaruwa and Kantale areas (Ranawella, 2007).

The script and the language of Gavuta inscriptions are Sinhala of the 12th century (Ranawella, 2007. According to Sirimal Ranawella, these inscriptions have addressed the people of Ruhuna to behave themselves in a manner that might not bring them the reproaches of those living in Maya-rata and Pihiti-rata (Ranawella, 2005). However, a few inscriptions have not addressed the people of Ruhuna but merely say that it is a Nissanka-Gavuta (pillar) assigned by the Kalinga Emperor (Ranawella, 2007).

Katugahagalge Pillar Inscription of Nissankamalla
Several Gavuta Pillar inscriptions discovered in the country have been given below;

#) Agbopura Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Trincomalee District)
#) Mullipotana Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Trincomalee District)
#) Kanichchagala Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Polonnaruwa District)
#) Veragodagala Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Polonnaruwa District)
#) Badalkumbura Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Monaragala District)
#) Veligatta Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Hambantota District)
#) Medilla Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Hambantota District)
#) Timbiriya Fragmentary Gavuta Pillar Inscription (Monaragala District)

1) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.95-97.
2) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.184-196.

This page was last updated on 10 October 2023

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