Monday, 16 January 2023

Gurulupotha Archaeological Site

Gurulupota Archaeological Site
Gurulupota Archaeological Site (Photo credit: Aravindth Thiruchchelvam, Google Street View)

Gurulupotha Archaeological Site, also known as Gurulupotha Sita Kotuwa or Gurulupotha Padhanaghara Piriven Viharaya (Sinhala: ගුරුළුපොත පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය/ ගුරුළුපොත සීතා කොටුව/ ගුරුළුපොත පධානඝර පිරිවෙන් විහාරය), is situated on the wayside of the Kandy-Mahiyangana road near the 18 hairpin bend in Kandy District, Sri Lanka.

The site consists of the ruins of the 8-10 centuries A.D. and an ancient Padhanaghara Monastery complex (Senanayaka, 2018).

Padhanaghara monasteries
Padhanaghara, also known as Patanagala or Piyangala, is a special type of monastery built for the Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks) who devoted themselves to meditation involving minimum comforts. They are usually constructed in places situated outside the main areas of monastic and secular buildings. During the latter part of the Anuradhapura Period, Padhanagharas became popular and developed into large-scale complexes. Examples of this type of monasteries are found in the places such as ArankeleRitigala, Nuvaragalkanda, Veherabendigala, and Western Monasteries etc. (Bandaranayake, 1990).

A Padhanaghara is often built at a site with bedrock almost at the surface or at a shallow depth. The monastery design usually follows a typical plan with a twin structure (two/double-platform) made out of dressed stones, surrounded by a shallow artificial moat. The two platforms are linked to each other by a  large monolithic stone slab/bridge spanning across the shallow moat in between.

A place related to Ramayanaya?
Without any archaeological or historical evidence, this archaeological site is being promoted by some locals and tourist agencies as a Hindu place related to Rama and Sita, two mythical figures depicted in the Indian epic Ramayanaya. According to them, Gurulupota is the first place where Sita was kept in captivity after her abduction by Ravana (Abeyawardana, 2004).

However, the authenticity of the Ramayanaya is controversial and hence it is today dismissed as a myth by Sri Lankan scholars (JRASSL, 2014).
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.116-117.
2) Bandaranayake, S., 1990. The architecture of the Anuradhapura Period 543 B.C.-800 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.22-24.
3) JRASSL, 2014. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka New Series, Vol. 59, No. 2, Special Issue on the Ramayana (2014). pp.1-112.
4) Senanayaka, P., 2018. Senkadagala Mahanuwara pradeshaye peranima Bauddha Vihara Arama (In Sinhala). Samodhana, The Journal of Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vol.7 (1). pp.55-83.

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This page was last updated on 27 May 2023


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