Friday, 18 February 2022

Menikdena Archeological Reserve

Menikdena Archeological Reserve
Menikdena Archeological Reserve (Photo credit: Tharaka Devinda, Google street view)

Menikdena Archeological Reserve is a ruined Buddhist site situated in Atha Bendiwewa village in Matale District, Sri Lanka. 

History
The history of this site runs back to the 3rd century B.C. (Abeyawardana, 2004). It is believed that one of the Kshatriya families who accompanied the Sri Maha Bodhi tree had settled down in the Menikdena area (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A slab containing an inscription of the 8-9th centuries A.D. has been found from this monastery site. It records the grant by a resident of Koboyatela of fields named Mahadenavulu to Buthgamu Viharaya (or Budhgam Vehera) which is believed to be the ruined monastery at the present Menikdena site (Nicholas, 1963). As mentioned in chronicles, King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) had captured the Cola fort at Buddhagama (probably present Menikdena) and Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) had made this area his first headquarters in his campaign against King Gajabahu II [(1131-1153 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963].
 
Menikdena slab inscription
Period: 8-9 centuries A.D.                Script: Medieval Sinhala                Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: The inscription says that the wife of Sen of Koboyatela paid five Kalandas of gold and made an outright purchase of five Palas of paddy land named Mahadenavulu of the Buthgamu Vihara and donated the same for the ticket meals. It further mentions that this gift would last till the Sun and the Moon endure.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

A Panchawasa shrine
Menikdena temple complex has been constructed according to the Panchawasa style that is discussed in Manjusri's treatise on architecture (Abeyawardana, 2004). The complex contains five edifices, viz: Bodhighara (Bodhi tree shrine), Stupa, Patimaghars (image house), Uposathaghara (chapter house) and Sabhasala. The edifices have been constructed on a raised ground and there were four entrances facing cardinal points (Abeyawardana, 2004). The Department of Archaeology has presently conserved the ruined Stupa at this site to a height of about 18 ft.

An archaeological reserve
The land plot named Menikdena Puravidya Sthanaya (P.P.A. 222 lot 1,2,3, & 4 land plots: consist of 40 acres, 3 roods, 17 perches) situated in Atha Bendiwewa village is an archaeological reserve, declared by a government gazette notification published on 26 April 1957.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.173.
2) 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.111.
3) The Gazette notification. no: 11112. 26 April 1957.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 14 April 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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