Sirimangalapura Gedige Archaeological Site

Sirimangalapura Gedige Archaeological Site
Sirimangalapura Gedige, also known as Thirumangalai Sivan Temple (Tamil: திருமங்களாய் சிவன் ஆலயம், Sinhala: සිරිමංගලපුර ගෙඩිගේ පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානය), is a ruined archaeological site located in the woods near Somapura village in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

According to the Sunetrawewa Site Report (dated 4 June 1976) by Trincomalee Archaeological Officer, this site contains the ruins of a Siva Devalaya of the 9-10th centuries A.D. constructed over the rubble of a destroyed Buddhist temple (Mathew, 1983).

As the Sri Lankan chronicles revealed, a military invasion began on Anuradhapura in 993 A.D. when a large Chola army was sent to Sri Lanka by South Indian King Raja Raja I (c. 985-1014 A.D.). In 1017 A.D., during the reign of Rajendra Chola I (c.1014-1044 A.D.), the Anuradhapura Kingdom completely fell under the rule of the Chola Empire when the invaders took the last king of Anuradhapura, King Mahinda V (982-1017 A.D.) as a captive to India (see: Fort Hammenhiel Inscriptions). They ruled the country for 53 years until King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) defeated them and re-established the Sinhalese lineage in 1070 A.D. 

During this period (993-1070), the Cholas built Hindu Temples inside and outside the Polonnaruwa Citadel for the worship of deities such as Siva, Vishnu, Ganesha and Kali (Pushparatnam, 2021). The ruined temple at Sirimangalapura is supposed to be one such Sivan temple built by Cholas over the ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple.

The ruins
The impact of the Chola rule on Sri Lankan culture is clearly visible in the monumental and sculptural art of the Polonnaruwa Period. The remaining structure at the Sirimangalapura Gedige site shows it had been constructed with granite stones and bricks with the adoption of the Choḻa art tradition (Pushparatnam, 2021). All portions of the temple are in a state of ruin except the Antaralaya in front of the Karpakirakam [(ante-chamber to the inner sanctuary) Pushparatnam, 2021]. The temple walls are approximately 5 ft. in length, breadth and height and have been built using bricks whereas their rooftops were built with granite stones (Pushparatnam, 2021). The carved granite pillars, bricks, sanctum, and Tamil inscriptions found among the ruins are evidence of the fact that this temple had been bigger than the Siva Devalaya No. 2 in Polonnaruwa (Pushparatnam, 2021).

The entrance of the present remaining structure is built using granite stone pillars and is approximately 3 and 1/2 ft. in width and 4 ft. in height (Pushparatnam, 2021). A square-shaped well built using granite stones has been found at the site.

Buddhist ruins
The site also contains some artefacts unique to Buddhist shrines (Mathew, 1983). On the ground, at the entrance to the sanctum was a carved Sandakada Pahana (moonstone) belonging to the 8-9 centuries A.D. (Mathew, 1983). A carved lotus pedestal which had been used as the base of a Buddhist statue in the standing posture is also found kept beside the entrance of the sanctum (Mathew, 1983). A part of a Muragala stone which is usually found in pairs on either side of the steps leading to the door or the entrance of Buddhist edifices has also been identified at the site.

Tamil inscriptions
Five Tamil inscriptions have been discovered from the site; three belong to the 10 and 11 centuries A.D. and two belong to the 15th and 16th centuries A.D. (Pushparatnam, 2021). The inscriptions of the 10-11 centuries A.D. describe some of the administrative regulations of the temple and the donations given to it by officials such as Siṟṟampalam Uṭaiyāi, Tiruveṇṇaikkūṭṟaṉ Tiruvarahiruvarańkam (Pushparatnam, 2021).

The other two inscriptions belonging to the 15 and 16 centuries A.D. record the information on giving cows as donations to the temple by some welfare lived in the society (Pushparatnam, 2021).

A temple bell
According to locals, some of the Hindu artefacts of this ruined site such as the Siva Linga were removed to the nearby Sivan Kovils at Verugal and Kankuveli by the members of Koneshwaram Temple at Trincomalee (Mathew, 1983; Pushparatnam, 2021). Of these artefacts, a bell embossed with a statement written in Tamil characters of the 17 century A.D. is notable (Pushparatnam, 2021). The statement on the bell can be read as follows (Pushparatnam, 2021);
"The donation by Pattaṉ the son of Pattipeṭi lived in Tirumańkalāi to the Tirumańkalāi Civaṉ temple"
1) Mathew, C.C., 1983. An Appeal to UNESCO to Safeguard and Preserve the Cultural Property in Sri Lanka Endangered by Racial Prejudice, Unlawful Occupation, or Wilful Destruction. pp. xxii,134-137.
2) Pushparatnam, P. 2021. Recently Discovered Ruins of Civaṉ Temple with Tamil Inscriptions at Tirumańkalᾱi Area in Trincomalai District, Sri Lanka. Jaffna Sci. Association, 3(1). pp.24-31

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This page was last updated on 22 April 2023

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