Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Hulugalla Tempita Viharaya

Hulugalla Tempita Viharaya (Sinhala: හුළුගල්ල ටැම්පිට විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Nikaweratiya in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
This temple and its adjoining tank of the same name are believed to have been built during the reign of King Mahasen [(274-301 A.D.) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021]. The tank is said to have been flooded seven times in the Kotte Period and as a remedy, a devotee named Sulugulu Upasaka constructed the present Tempita Viharaya at the site under the patronage of a Buddhist monk called Harambagala Thera (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Silva & Chandrasekara, 2021). As per locals, the flooding was stopped miraculously after the construction of this Tempita Viharaya. The rest of the temple complex is said to have been built after 1930 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan Period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. The construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Hulugalla Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of this temple can be identified as an ancient monument with archaeological value. It is a small rectangular building balanced on 16 stone stumps (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Mainly, it consists of two parts, viz: the inner shrine room and the outer short wall. The outer short wall runs around the inner shrine room making a narrow ambulatory path. The wall is made of wattle and daub and a wooden Biralu connects the upper edge of the wall to the lower edge of the roof. A lean roof has been constructed around the building at a lower level to protect the outer short wall from Diyahulang [(windy rain) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009].

A seated Buddha statue in Samadi mudra (gesture of meditation) is found inside the inner shrine room. Two standing statues of Buddha in Vitarka mudra (gesture of discourse) are also found facing each other on both left and right walls. The inner walls of the shrine are filled with paintings depicting Buddhist themes such as "the Suvisi-vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas)" and various decorative motifs. Figures of Suriyavanka (sun curve) and Sri Pada are also found among the paintings.

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.39.
2) Silva, K.D. and Chandrasekara, D.P., 2021. The Tämpiṭavihāras of Sri Lanka: Elevated Image-Houses in Buddhist Architecture. Anthem Press. pp.110-111.
3) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.

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Bolossagama Sunandarama Viharaya

Sri Sunandarama Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated on the bank of Kalu Ganga river in Bolossagama village in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

History
The building that houses the image house of this temple has been built in 2447 B.E. [(1904 A.D.) Katupotha, 2011].

References
1) Katupotha, J., 2011. Cultural and Historical Monuments and Protected Resources of Archaeological Significance in the Lower Kalu Ganga Basin, Sri Lanka. Conference PaperNational Archaeological Symposium 2011. pp.197-213.
 
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Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Photo credit: Amila Ishantha, Google Street View)

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Sinhala: පාදෙණිය රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Padeniya in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
The image house, Potgula (library) and preaching hall of Padeniya temple were constructed by Megastenne Adikaram during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha [(1747-1782 A.D.) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009]. Of them, the Potgula (library) building is considered one of the oldest structures in the temple (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

A protected site
The Potgula (library), image house and other ancient buildings located in the Padeniya Vihara premises situated in the Wariyapola Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by three government gazette notifications published on 18 September 1964, 8 September 1967 and 7 September 1979.

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. pp.57,90,97, 
2) The Government gazette notification. No: 14172. 18 September 1964.
3) The Government gazette notification. No: 14765. 8 September 1967.
4) The Government gazette notification. No: 53. 7 September 1979.
 
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Kumbukkan Oya

Kumbukkan Oya is a river in eastern Sri Lanka. It originates in the hills above Monaragala and flows a length of over 48 km before entering the Indian Ocean at Kumana (Arumugam, 1969).
 
River basin
The Kumbukkan Oya river basin extends in an area of about 1,232.83 km2 (Arumugam, 1969). The river has a mean annual flow of about 722 million m3 (Arumugam, 1969).

Reservoirs & anicuts in the Kumbukkan Oya river basin
#) Hulanda Oya Anicut                       #) Kumana Wewa                       #) Kumbukkan Oya Anicu

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. pp.140-141.

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Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Mayuragiri Raja Maha Viharaya, Monaragala

Mayuragiri Raja Maha Viharaya
Mayuragiri Raja Maha Viharaya (Photo credit: Madhuka Mihiranga Wickramarathna, Google street view)

Mayuragiri Raja Maha Viharaya, also known as Monaragala Raja Maha Viharaya, (Sinhala: මොනරාගල මයුරගිරි රජමහා විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated near Weliyaya junction in Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. 

History
Several artefacts such as guard stones and Stupas of this temple are attributed by people to the reign of King Valagamba (103,87-77 B.C.). An inscription found in this site reveals that King Mahanaga (555-567 A.D.) donated some lands to this temple. It is believed that the Tooth Relic of the Buddha was kept here during the time of the war between King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) and Queen Sugala. According to locals, Arhat Maliyadeva Thera had occupied this temple for some time (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Mayuragiriya Raja Maha Viharaya rock inscription
Period: 5-6th centuries A.D.           Script: Transitional Brahmi           Language: Old Sinhala
Content: This inscription mentions the donations given to the temple by a person named Damaga of Machala Bala
Reference: The Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

The temple was subjected to renovations during the Kandyan Period. It is said that King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782 A.D.) donated lands to the temple (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Two statues of Bodhisattva, a statue of King Parakramabahu I, a stone bed and two stone inscriptions are found inside the image house of this temple (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

A protected site
All the drip-ledged rock caves with inscriptions, ruined buildings with ancient stone pillars and foundations belonging to Mayuragiri Purana Vihara premises in the Grama Niladhari Division of No. 130-B, Weliyaya, in Moneragala Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.  

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.76.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.528.

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Kirindi Oya

Kirindi Oya
Kirindi Oya (Sinhala: කිරිඳි ඔය) is a river in southeast Sri Lanka. It is 118 km long (Abeysingha et al., 2017).
 
History
The ancient name used in Pali chronicles such as Mahavamsa to identify the Kirindi Oya river was Karinda-nadi (Nicholas, 1963). The Mayilagastota Pillar Inscription of King Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.) referred to this river as Kirind-ho (Ranawella, 2001). 

River basin
The Kirindi Oya river basin extends in an area of about 1,203 km2 (Abeysingha et al., 2017). The basin is considered closing because during parts of the year there are only very limited outflows to the Indian Ocean (Abeysingha et al., 2017; Molden et al., 2001). Downstream reservoirs of the basin utilize the waters of Kirindi Oya for irrigation and other uses (Abeysingha et al., 2017; Molden et al., 2001).

Reservoirs & anicuts in the Kirindi Oya river basin
#) Debara Wewa                               #) Ellagala Anicut                               #) Pannagamuwa Wewa
#) Tissa Wewa                                  #) Weerawila Wewa                           #) Yodha Wewa

Attribution

References
1) Abeysingha, N.S., Jayasekara, J.M.N.S. and Meegastenna, T.J., 2017. Stream flow trends in up and midstream of Kirindi Oya river basin in Sri Lanka and its linkages to rainfall. Mausam, 68(1), pp.99-110.
2) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. pp.127-134.
3) Molden, D.J., Starkloff, R., Sakthivadivel, R. and Keller, J., 2001. Hydronomic zones for developing basin water conservation strategies (Vol. 56). IWMI. p.12.
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.66.
4) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.372-376.

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Monday, 28 March 2022

Ambogama Abhayagiri Purana Viharaya

Not to be confused with Abhayagiri Viharaya, Anuradhapura

Abhayagiri Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Ambogama village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
The only archaeological monument found on this site is the small image house made of four stone pillars. The pillars are about 10 ft. tall and are believed to have been brought to the present site from somewhere (Mendis et al., 2019). A coin of Queen Lilavati (1197-1200, 1209-1210, 1211-1212 A.D.) of Polonnaruwa is said to have been found from the temple premises (Mendis et al., 2019).

A rock inscription written in the late-Brahmi script has been discovered on a site near this temple (Mendis et al., 2019).

References
1) Mendis, D.T.; Wijepala, W.M.T.B.; Harshajith, D.M.N., 2019. දැදුරු ඔය සහ මී ඔය අතර කලාපයේ පුරාවිද්‍යාත්මක ස්ථාන පිළිබඳ මූලික විමර්ශනයක්. මධ්‍ය දැදුරු ඔය හා මී ඔය නිම්නයේ ජනාවාස පුරාවිද්‍යාව. Research and Publication Fund, Rajarata University Of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 978-955-0189-14-1.pp.33-103.
 
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Menik Ganga

Menik Ganga
Menik Ganga (Sinhala: මැණික් ගඟ; Tamil: மாணிக்க ஆறு) is a perennial river in the southern semi-arid pan of Sri Lanka. Originates in the Namunukula mountain range, it flows about 50 miles (80 km) through Buttala and Kataragama before entering into the Indian Ocean via Yala National Park (Arumugam, 1969; Weligamage, 2011).
 
History
The ancient name used in Pali chronicles to identify the Menik Ganga river was Kappakandara-nadi (Nicholas, 1963). The Kataragama-Detagamuwa pillar inscription of King Dappula IV (923-935 A.D.) referred to this river as Kapikandur-ho (Ranawella, 2004). 

River basin
The Menik Ganga river basin extends in an area of about 1,272 km2 (Dissanayake & Smakhtin, 2007). The annual mean precipitation in the basin is 1,496 mm and the estimated natural annual flow is 347 million cubic meters (Dissanayake & Smakhtin, 2007).

Reservoirs & anicuts in the Menik Ganga river basin
#) Buttala Anicut                                    #) Karawila Wewa                                    #) Kongaha Wewa

Attribution

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. pp.135-139.
2) Dissanayake, P. and Smakhtin, V., 2007. Environmental and social values of river water: Examples from the Menik Ganga, Sri Lanka (Vol. 121). IWMI. p.2.
3) 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.66.
4) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon: Containing pillar inscriptions and slab inscriptions from 924 AD to 1017. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. pp.31-34.
5) Weligamage, S.P., 2011. An economic analysis of intersectoral water allocation in southeastern Sri Lanka. Washington State University. p.12.
 
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Sunday, 27 March 2022

Hathigamuwa Gurugoda Viharaya

Hathigamuwa Gurugoda Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Hathigamuwa village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
Archaeological evidence indicates that this temple was developed during both the Anuradhapura and Kandy periods (Mendis et al., 2019). A rock inscription that is believed to have been inscribed during the reign of King Amandagamani Abhaya (21-30 A.D.) has been discovered from the site and it records a donation of a cave named Jalikakatha made to this temple (Mendis et al., 2019). King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782 A.D.) is said to have constructed the image house of this temple (Mendis et al., 2019).

Several ancient artefacts such as a stone flower altar (3.4 m x 1.2 m), two Siri Pathula Gal and an Asana have been discovered from the temple premises (Mendis et al., 2019).

References
1) Mendis, D.T.; Wijepala, W.M.T.B.; Harshajith, D.M.N., 2019. දැදුරු ඔය සහ මී ඔය අතර කලාපයේ පුරාවිද්‍යාත්මක ස්ථාන පිළිබඳ මූලික විමර්ශනයක්. මධ්‍ය දැදුරු ඔය හා මී ඔය නිම්නයේ ජනාවාස පුරාවිද්‍යාව. Research and Publication Fund, Rajarata University Of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 978-955-0189-14-1.pp.33-103.
 
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Kala Oya

Kala Oya
Kala Oya (Sinhala: කලා ඔය; Tamil: கலா ஓயா) is a river in northwest Sri Lanka. It originates at Dambulla, Kandalama mountains at an elevation around 870 metres Above Mean Sea Level (Iresh, 2020; Iresh et al, 2021). In the lower reaches, a few tributaries join the river and it enters into the Indian Ocean at Gangewadiya belongs to the Wilpattu National Park (Iresh et al, 2021). It is the third-longest river in the country (Iresh, 2020).
 
History
King Vankanasika Tissa (111-114 A.D.) is said to have built the Mahamangala Viharaya temple on the bank of the Gona-nadi [(present Kala Oya) Nicholas, 1963]. King Datusena (459-477 A.D.) built Kala Wewa by damming the waters of Kala Oya (Arumugam, 1969). 

River basin
The Kala Oya river basin extending in an area of about 2,870 km2 is the 3rd largest basin among the named 103 major river basins in Sri Lanka (Iresh et al, 2021; Perera et al., 2018; Vidanage et al., 2005; Young et al., 2009). The upper part of the basin falls within the Matale District and the middle reach falls within the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala districts while the lower reach is located in the Puttalam District (Iresh et al, 2021). There are about 600 minor irrigation tanks within the basin (Vidanage et al., 2005). The lowland area of the basin receives water via diversions from Mahaweli Basin with unlined canals running on either side (Young et al., 2009). 

Attribution
1)  Kala Oya by Shashika adithya is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.17.
2) Iresh, A.D.S., 2020. Screening of Annual Rainfall Time-Series Data in Kala Oya Basin: Case Study in Sri Lanka. ENGINEER, 53(02), pp.69-75.
3) Iresh, A.D.S., Marasingha, A.G.N.S., Wedanda, A.M.T.S.H., Wickramasekara, G.P., Wickramasooriya, M.D.J.P. and Premathilaka, M.T.C., 2021. Development of a Hydrological Model for Kala Oya Basin Using SWAT Model. Eng. J. Inst. Eng. Sri Lanka, 54, pp.57-65.
4) Perera, N.M.P., Sumanapala, A.P. and Padmalal, U.K.G.K., 2018. Avifaunal diversity in the Kala Oya River Basin. WILDLANKA Journal of the Department of Widllife Conservation of Sri Lanka, 6(2).
5) 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.92.
6) Vidanage, S., Perera, S. and Kallesoe, M.F., 2005. The value of traditional water schemes: Small tanks in the Kala Oya Basin, Sri Lanka (Vol. 6). IUCN. p.9.
7) Young, S.M., Pitawala, A. and Gunatilake, J., 2009. Effect of agricultural practices on chemical quality of water in Kala Oya river basin. pp.97-104.

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Saturday, 26 March 2022

Kandulawa Mediriya Raja Maha Viharaya

Kandulawa Mediriya Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kandulawa village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this temple goes back to the first half of the Anuradhapura Period as evidenced by the Brahmi cave inscriptions and other artefacts such as the Yantra Gala (Mendis et al., 2019). The Yantra Gala indicates that there was a Buddha statue (probably standing) in the past (Mendis et al., 2019).

According to tradition, the cave temple of Kandulawa Viharaya have been renovated by King Kirti Sri Rajasinha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Mendis et al., 2019].

References
1) Mendis, D.T.; Wijepala, W.M.T.B.; Harshajith, D.M.N., 2019. දැදුරු ඔය සහ මී ඔය අතර කලාපයේ පුරාවිද්‍යාත්මක ස්ථාන පිළිබඳ මූලික විමර්ශනයක්. මධ්‍ය දැදුරු ඔය හා මී ඔය නිම්නයේ ජනාවාස පුරාවිද්‍යාව. Research and Publication Fund, Rajarata University Of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 978-955-0189-14-1.pp.33-103.
 
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Deduru Oya

Deduru Oya
Deduru Oya (Sinhala: දැදුරු ඔය; Tamil: தெதரு ஆறு) is a river in northwest Sri Lanka. It originates from the eastern border of the Central Province, flows across Kurunegala and Puttalam districts and enters into the Indian Ocean at Chilaw (Somaratne et al., 2003). The river is 115 km long and mainly comprises 8 tributaries (Somaratne et al., 2003; Wickramaarachchi, 2004). They include Ratwila  Ela, Kospothu Oya, and Dik Oya in the upper basin; Maguru Oya, Hakwatuna Oya, and Kimbulwana Oya in the middle basin; and  Kolamuna Oya, Thalagala Ela in the lower basin (Mishra et al., 2017).
 
The river flows through all three climatic regions in which 94% of the area falls into the intermediate zone while 5% and 1% of the area belongs to the wet and dry zones, respectively (Jayasena et al., 2008). The Deduru Oya Reservoir was built across this river about 300 m upstream of the existing Ridi Bendi Ella anicut in 2014 under the Deduru Oya Project by the Ministry of Irrigation.
 
History
The ancient name used in Pali chronicles to identify the Deduru Oya river was Jajjara-nadi (Nicholas, 1963). Parakramabahu I (reigned: 1153-1186 A.D.), in developing the resources of his principality of Dakkhinadesa, harnessed the waters of Jajjara-nadi by damming the river at three points; Kotthabaddha, Sukaranijjhara, and Doradattika (Nicholas, 1963).

River basin
The Deduru Oya river basin extending in an area of about 2,616 km2 is the 4th largest basin among the named 103 major river basins in Sri Lanka (Jayasena et al., 2008; Lakmali et al., 2015). 97% of the basin’s area is covered by the North Western Province (Kurunegala and  Puttalam districts) and 3% by the Central Province [(Kandy and Matale districts) Wickramaarachchi, 2004]. The basin contains a number of small and large reservoirs, mostly rain-fed, used for irrigating paddy cultivation.

Attribution

References
1) Jayasena, H.A.H., Chandrajith, R. and Dissanayake, C.B., 2008. Spatial variation of isotope composition in precipitation in a tropical environment: a case study from the Deduru Oya river basin, Sri Lanka. Hydrological Processes: An International Journal, 22(23), pp.4565-4570.
2) Lakmali, W.A.S., Gunawardena, E.R.N. and Dayawansa, N.D.K., 2015. Comparative performance assessment of major irrigation systems in Upper Deduru Oya Basin. pp.343-354.
3) Mishra, B.K., Herath, S., Sampath, D.S., Fukushi, K. and Weerakoon, S.B., 2017. Modeling water allocation options in Deduru Oya reservoir system, Sri Lanka. Sustainable Water Resources Management, 3(2), pp.181-191.
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.97.
5) Somaratne, P.G., Jinapala, K., Perera, L.R., Ariyaratne, B.R., Bandaragoda, D.J. and Makin, I., 2003. Developing effective institutions for water resources management: A case study in the Deduru Oya Basin, Sri Lanka (Vol. 58). IWMI. p.4.
6) Wickramaarachchi, T.N., 2004. Preliminary assessment of surface water resources-a study from Deduru Oya Basin of Sri Lanka. APHW Proceedings.

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Friday, 25 March 2022

Nikawewa Viharaya, Weli Oya

Nikawewa Viharaya
Ruins at Nikawewa Viharaya (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Nikawewa Vam-iwura Purana Viharaya (Sinhala: නිකවැව වම් ඉවුර පුරාණ විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated on the bank of Nika Wewa tank in Nikawewa Left in Mullaitivu District, Sri Lanka.

The site
The modern temple has been established over the ruins of an ancient Buddhist site. A large number of ancient monuments such as dilapidated Stupa mound, a ruined building (probably an image house), Siri Pathul Gal, Korawak Gal, Sandakada Pahana (moonstones), flower altars, pieces of broken Buddha statues, stone pillars, lavatory stones and other stone artefacts are found in the temple premises as well as in the surrounding private lands (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

The Stupa mound is located to the southeast of the Bodhi tree about 30 m distance (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). It is about 2 m in height and has a diameter of nearly 15 m (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). The mound has been dug from the top by vandals who searched treasures in its relic chamber. A flight of steps accompanied by Korawak Gal and a flower altar are found around the Stupa. Destroying some of the monuments, the modern tarred road has been laid over the ruins of the temple.
 
References
1) Asanga, M.V.G.K.; Nishantha, I.P.S., 2018. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mulathivu Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:978-955-7457-25-3. pp.158-161.

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Hummanaya Blowhole

Hummanaya Blowhole
Hummanaya Blowhole is situated on a rocky cliff in Kudawella fishing village in Matara District, Sri Lanka. It is considered the second largest of the six known blowholes in the world and the only one in Sri Lanka (Abeyawardana, 2004). The rumble that is made by this blowhole has given this place its Sinhala name, Hummanaya.

A blowhole is a geological feature that is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface. It can result in hydraulic compression of seawater that is released through a port from the top of the blowhole. The height of the spray is determined by the geometry of the cave and blowhole along with tide levels and swell conditions.

The Hummanaya blowhole is highly active during the southwest monsoon, especially in June (Abeyawardana, 2004). The outlet of the blowhole is located at about 75 ft. from sea level (Abeyawardana, 2004). It shoots up the spray up to a height of 60 ft. depending on the strength of the waves (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Presently, this site has been developed as a minor tourist attraction, with a small information and study centre.

Attribution

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.95-97
 
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Thursday, 24 March 2022

Mayuravapi Viharaya

Mayuravapi Viharaya
Stone pillars of an ancient building (Photo credit: Google street view)

Mayuravapi Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Monarawewa village in Mullaitivu District, Sri Lanka.

The site
The modern temple has been established over the ruins of an ancient Buddhist site. Seventeen short stone pillars which are believed to be the ruins of an image house can be identified within the temple premises (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Two broken pieces of a limestone standing Buddha statue (headless) and a base stone of a statue are also found in the temple premises (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

The ruined image house is 4.4 m long and 4.26 m wide (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). The entrance is 1.75 m wide and it faces the east (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).
 
References
1) Asanga, M.V.G.K.; Nishantha, I.P.S., 2018. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mulathivu Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:978-955-7457-25-3. pp.165-166.

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Bahjathul Ibraheemiyya Arabic College

Bahjathul Ibraheemiyya Arabic College
Bahjathul Ibraheemiyya Arabic College is an Islamic educational centre situated in Galle Fort premises in Sri Lanka. It was established by Sir Mohamed Macan Makar in 1892 (Abeyawardana, 2004).
 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.27.
 
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Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Mullaitivu Fort

Mullaitivu Fort
Mullaitivu Fort (Sinhala: මුලතිවු බලකොටුව; Tamil: முல்லைத்தீவுக் கோட்டை) is an old Dutch fort in Mullaitivu District, Sri Lanka. A few ruins of this fort is still found within the premises of the Mullaitivu Divisional Secretariat (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).
History
The fort was built in 1715 by the Dutch as a small wooden structure (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). In 1721 it was converted into a quadrangular fort with two bastions (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Vanniars of the Vanni principalities invaded the fort in 1766 and the control of it was completely taken over by the British in 1795 (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Although Vanniars captured the fort on 25 August 1803 with the help of the Kandyan King, Captain von Driberg and his troops managed to regain control of it (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

The fort
Presently, a part of the wall of a storeroom of the fort can be seen within the premises of the Mullaitivu Divisional Secretariat (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). Fired bricks and lime mortar have been used for the construction of it. The remaining part is 2.4 m in height (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).
 
A protected site
The Dutch Fortress at Mullativu situated in Grama Niladhari Division, Mullativu town in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Muhudubadapaththu is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 24 March 2016.

Attribution

References
1) Asanga, M.V.G.K.; Nishantha, I.P.S., 2018. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mulathivu Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:978-955-7457-25-3. pp.116-118.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1960. 24 March 2016. p.228.

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Sangamitta Stupa

Sangamitta Stupa (Sinhala: සංඝමිත්තා ස්තූපය) is a ruined Stupa situated in close proximity of Thuparama Viharaya in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. 

History
Soon after the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Sangamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Asoka (c.268-232 B.C.) and sister of Arhat Mahinda Thera, brought the Southern Branch of the Sacred Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya to Sri Lanka (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). It was planted at Mahamegha park in Anuradhapura, on the ground earlier sanctified by the Buddha, by King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.) in the presence of a great multitude (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). The chronicle Mahavamsa mentions that King Uttiya erected a Stupa in honour of Sangamitta Theri after her body was cremated (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruined Stupa to the east of the Padalanchana Chethiya has been identified as the Stupa built by Uttiya by enshrining the ashes of Sangamitta Theri (Wikramagamage, 2004).

References
1) 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). pp.130-131.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.54-58,77. 

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Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya

Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya
Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya (also known as Tissarama or Mahamevna Tisaram) was an important Buddhist monastery complex for Theravada Buddhism in ancient Sri Lanka. Most of the sacred monuments in the city including the Sri Maha Bodhiya, Ruwanweliseya, Lovamahapaya, Thuparamaya and Mirisawetiya are located within the precincts of this complex (Nicholas, 1963). Sri Lankan chronicles such as Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Culavamsa, Nikaya Sangrahaya, Pujavaliya treat the country's history from the point of view of the Maha Viharaya (Nicholas, 1963).

The Maha Viharaya area is bounded by the Thuparama to the north, Abhaya Wewa and Mirisawetiya to the west and Jetavanaramaya and Malwathu Oya to the east (Wikramagamage, 2004). The plan of the Maha Viharaya is said to have been designed to depict the posture of a lion showing bravery (Wikramagamage, 2004). Accordingly, the Sri Maha Bodhiya is located at the end of the lion's tail and the Lovamahapaya is sited near the right foot of it (Wikramagamage, 2004). The Ransimalaka or the assembly hall of the Maha Viharaya is located near the left foot to the right of the stomach of the lion (Wikramagamage, 2004). 
History
Foundation of Maha Viharaya
Maha Viharaya was established by the name Tissarama when the Jotivana (previously called Nandana) park and the Mahamegha park located outside the south and southeast of the Anuradhapura Citadel were presented to Arhat Mahinda Thera and his companions by King Devanampiyatissa [(247-207 B.C.) Dias, 2001; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004]. The king built the first Arama named Thuparamaya in the Mahamegha park (Wikramagamage, 2004). The monastery was renamed Mahameghavanarama and later Maha Viharaya (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Maha Viharaya was the seat of the orthodox (Heenayana doctrine) and received consistent patronage of Kings (Dias, 2001; Nicholas, 1963). However, its supremacy was challenged after the construction of Abhayagiri Viharaya in 89 B.C. by King Valagamba which later became the centre of heterodox [(Mahayana doctrine) Nicholas, 1963].

The rivalry between Maha Viharaya and Abhayagiriya
At the beginning of the foundation of the Abhayagiriya Vihara, there was no difference between its religious practices and those of the Maha Vihara (Jayasuriya, 2016). However, a monk named Dhammaruci arrived at Abhayagiriya in 77 B.C., and thereafter the monks there came to be known as Dhammarucis as they follow a breakaway sect that differs from the Maha Vihara tradition (Jayasuriya, 2016). As a result, Abhayagiriya became the seat of the heterodox, Mahayana doctrines and consequently, it came into rivalry with the orthodox Maha Vihara (Nicholas, 1963).

Destruction by Mahasena
The rivalry between Maha Viharaya and Abhayagiriya came to a very serious level during the reign of King Mahasena (275-301 A.D.). The king tried to destroy the Maha Viharaya and restricted people to give alms to its monks. As a result of that, the monks abandoned Maha Viharaya and went to live in the areas in Malaya and Rohana for about 9 years (Nicholas, 1963). The structures in the Maha Viharaya were dismantled and reused their materials for the construction of new buildings at Abhayagiriya (Nicholas, 1963). Thus Abhayagiriya became rich in buildings and as the chronicle records "it was made stately to see" (Jayasuriya, 2016). 

Restoration
King Mahasena finally stopped his aggression over Maha Viharaya when there was the risk of occurring of a civil war against his actions (Nicholas, 1963). He made some restorations and repairs to the damages he had caused (Nicholas, 1963). However, violating the territory of Maha Viharaya, he established the great monastery Jetavanaramaya within its precincts and offered it to Tissa Thera of Dakkhina Vihara (Jayasuriya, 2016).

The successors of Mahasena completed the rebuilding and restoration of Maha Viharaya but its supremacy was undermined (Nicholas, 1963). The Mihintale Monastery that was under the observation of Maha Viharaya was passed into the control of Abhayagiriya in the 5th century A.D. (Nicholas, 1963). However, in the period between 8-10th centuries A.D., the kings remained faithful to the Maha Vihara tradition (Nicholas, 1963).

As a centre of the orthodox Buddhist tradition
The reputation of Maha Viharaya as a centre of the orthodox Buddhist tradition had extended as far as India and it attracted a number of scholars from Indian Buddhist centres (Dias, 2001). Buddhagosha, the famous Indian Theravada Buddhist scholar, translated the Tripitaka and its commentaries into Pali while residing in Maha Viharaya in the 5th century A.D. (Dias, 2001). As have revealed by the reports of the Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-Hsien who was in Sri Lanka from 411 to 413 A.D., there were about 3,000 monks in residence at the Maha Viharaya in his time (Nicholas, 1963). 
 
Inscriptions
The first occurrence of the name Maha Viharaya is found in a cave inscription of later Brahmi in the Kaduruwewa area (Dias, 2001; Paranavitana, 1970). 
 
Period: 1st century A.D.                       Script: Later Brahmi                       Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (1) Sida [|*] Maha-vihara-va[sika] (2) [Di]tima-Apaya-teraha-lene (3) agata-anagata-catu-disika-sagasa (4) niyate
Translation: The cave of the elder, [Di]tima Apaya, a resident of the Mahavihara, has been dedicated to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970.
 
In another inscription of the same period, a king named Abhaya has made a donation to the monks of the Maha Viharaya (Dias, 2001). In the Nelugala rock inscription of King Bhatiya Tissa II (140-164 A.D.), the Buddhist monks in the Maha Viharaya are mentioned as the Mahaviharavasika bikusaga (Dias, 2001; Paranavitana, 1983). The name Maha Viharaya is also found in the Polonnaruwa Raja Maligawa pillar inscription of Mahinda IV [(956-972 A.D.) Ranawella, 2004].

References
1) Dias, M., 2001. The growth of Buddhist monastic institutions in Sri Lanka from Brahmi inscriptions. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology Survey. ISBN: 955-9264-04-4. pp.42-43.
2) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.21-35,48-53.
3) 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). pp.127,129-130.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.98.
5) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, Volume II (Part I). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.113-117.
6) Ranawella, G.S., 2004. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part II. Department of Archaeology. pp.241-245.
7) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.53-54.

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Nil Diya Pokuna

Nil Diya Pokuna
Karandagolla Cave or Nil Diya Pokuna (lit: Blue Water Pond) is a tunnel and an underground cave with a pond located in Ravana Ella Sanctuary in Karandagolla near Ella in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. The pond which is called Nil Diya Pokuna due to its natural blue appearance lies about 52 m deep inside the tunnel complex. It has been found out by divers that there are two more tunnels branching off the bottom of the pond. As both the water and the air are fresh inside the tunnel complex, it can be assumed that this underground system is connected to the outer environment from somewhere. 

Merely due to the mystic ambience around this place, locals have tended to believe that this place has a history linked with King Ravana, a mythical figure depicted in the Indian epic Ramayanaya. However, the authenticity of the Ramayanaya is controversial and hence it is today dismissed as a myth by Sri Lankan scholars (JRASSL, 2014).

Travel note: It is advised to ask the help of a guide before you visit this site.

References
1)  JRASSL, 2014. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka New Series, Vol. 59, No. 2, Special Issue on the Ramayana (2014). https://www.jstor.org/stable/i40203619. pp.1-112.

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Monday, 21 March 2022

Thonigala Inscription, Vavuniya

Not to be confused with Thonigala Rock Inscriptions, Anamaduwa

The Thonigala Rock Inscription of the reign of King Sirimeghavanna (Sinhala: වවුනියාව තෝනිගල සෙල් ලිපිය) is found engraved on a low flat hummock of gneiss known as Thonigala (or Nagaragala) located in Vavuniya District, Sri Lanka. This inscription is considered important as it reveals some information about the economic condition in Sri Lanka during the 4th century (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana,1933).

The inscription
The site of the inscription is located about half a mile to the north of the 6th-milepost on the minor road from Vavuniya to Horovupotana, just by the boundary line between the Northern and North-Central Provinces (Paranavitana,1933). Ruins of a small Stupa built of rubble and two rock inscriptions are found at the site (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana,1933). Of the two inscriptions, one is fragmentary (or unfinished) and the other received the attention of a number of scholars such as Henry Parker (1886), D.M. de Z. Wickremasinghe (1892), H.C.P. Bell (1894) and S. Paranavitana [(1933) Paranavitana,1933]. 

As the rock surface has not been smoothed before the writing was executed, the area occupied by the inscription is of irregular dimensions and the lines are not of a uniform length (Paranavitana,1933). Totally, there are 17 lines of writing and the first 12 lines of them are in an excellent state of preservation (Paranavitana,1933). The script belongs to the latter half of the 4th century A.D. (Paranavitana,1933).

The inscription had been covered with a clay layer during the war period (1983-2009) as it could be damaged due to mortar attacks. The clay cover was removed for public view in May 2022.

Content
The inscription is a private document and it is dated in the 3rd year of Sirimeghavanna (304-332 A.D.), the son of Mahasena (Paranavitana,1933). As confirmed by chronicles, Sirimeghavanna was King Mahasena's (277-304 A.D.) son and the contemporary of Indian emperor Samudragupta (Paranavitana,1933). During the reign of Sirimeghavanna, the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to the country.

The inscription records that a certain minister deposited some quantities of grain and beans with a guild in the northern quarter of the city with the stipulation that the capital should remain unspent and the interest should be utilized for providing meals to the monks of the Yahisapavata monastery during the Vassa season of every year (Paranavitana,1933). The Yahisapavata is believed to be the ancient name of the present Thonigala (Paranavitana,1933).

Tonigala Rock Inscription of the reign of Sirimeghavanna
Period: 4th century A.D.                  Script: Later Brahmi                 Language: Old Sinhala
Content: In the 3rd regnal year of King Sirimeghavanna, Devaya, the son of a minister named Sivaya who lived in the village called Kadubala, had deposited a quantity of grain with a guild in the trading village of Kalahumanaka in the northern quarter of the city. It stipulates that the interest should be utilized for providing meals and other requisites to the monks of the Yahisapavata monastery during the religious ceremony of Ariyavasa. 
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology.
 
A protected monument
The Kudakachchakodiya Thonigala inscription and the ruins around, in the Grama Niladhari Division No. S. 212-F Mahamayilankulam, in Vavuniya South Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monument,s declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008. 
 
References
1) 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.394-396.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Tonigala Rock Inscription of the third year of Srimeghavarnna. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.172-188.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 23 February 2007. p.531.

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Ancient Hospital Complex, Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa Ancient Hospital Complex
The ruins of an Ancient Hospital Complex (Sinhala: පොළොන්නරුව පුරාණ රෝහල) have been identified from the premises of Polonnaruwa Old City in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka. 
 
History
Cultural Triangle excavations carried out in 1982/3 confirmed that these ruins situated in the Alahana Pirivena premises are the remains of an ancient hospital complex of the 12th century (Kannangara, 2016; Mueller-Dietz, 1996; Prematileke, 1990). The construction of this hospital is generally attributed to King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Kannangara, 2016].
 
Excavations carried out at this site have unearthed some surgical and medical instruments such as probes, forceps, scissors, scalpels, lancets, herb grinding stones, a micro-balance, a spoon, and storage jars of Chinese celedon used at the time (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Some of these artefacts are presently on the display in Colombo National Museum.

The hospital building
The rectangular hospital building (25.75 m x 16.65 m) more or less follows the Mihintale Hospital (9th century) prototype in having two distinct units built together, namely living quarters and treatment sections (Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematileke, 1990). The living quarters are formed of cells built around an open courtyard at the centre. At the northern side of the courtyard is a cluster of short stone stumps probably the remains of a shrine built on pillars (Prematileke, 1990). The treatment section is located south of the living area and it also contains a central courtyard (Prematileke, 1990).

The medicinal trough (Beheth Oruwa)
A stone medicinal trough similar to a sarcophagus is found in one of the rooms of this building. Hewn from a monolith, it has a cut-out shape of a man measuring 1.95 m in length (Prematileke, 1990). It has been used for treating patients by immersing in medicinal oil (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Reference
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.80-81. 
2) Kannangara, A.P., 2016. The history of dermatology, venereology, and dermatopathology in different countries-Sri Lanka. Global Dermatology, 2(7).
3) Mueller-Dietz, H.E., 1996. Stone „Sarcophagi” and Ancient Hospitals in Sri Lanka. Medizinhistorisches Journal, (H. 1/2), pp.49-65.
4) Prematileke, 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). p.54.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.218-219.

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