Alawala Potgul Viharaya and Prehistoric Cave

Alawala Potgul Viharaya and Pre-Historic Cave Site (Sinhala: අලවල පොත්ගුල් විහාරය හා ප්‍රාග් ඓතිහාසික ලෙන) is located in Alawala village near Attanagalla in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Prehistoric site
There are a few caves on the temple premises and of them, the most important excavated pre-historic rock shelter, known as Alawala cave, is located in the middle part of the mountain (Katupotha & Sumananarathna, 2020). It is a bedrock-type rock shelter and it is formed in an exposed bedrock on the surface of the earth (Jayasingha et al., 2010). Archaeological excavations carried out in this cave by the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology in two phases at the end and at the beginning of the years 2008 and 2009 have revealed evidence of pre-Christian human activities between 8,000-14,000 B.P. (Kapukotuwa et al., 2021; Katupotha & Sumananarathna, 2020; Munasinghe et al., 2021; Premarathna et al., 2013). 

The Buddhist monastery
As is evidenced by the Early Brahmi Inscription engraved just below the drip ledge of a cave of the temple, this site has been used as an abode of Buddhist monks since the beginning of the Anuradhapura Period.

Period: 2nd -1st centuries B.C.                      Script: Early Brahmi                      Language: Old Sinhala
Content: The cave of Gamika,.... the son of Gamika Tissa.
References: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
A tunnel cave
A small-scale tunnel cave has been discovered just downhill from Alawala Pothgul Lena (Jayasingha et al., 2010; Osborne et al., 2013). The cave is 12.6 m long with an elliptical profile (long axis 1 m) guided by a westerly dipping joint. The cave floor is composed of bedrock with a hard, black manganiferous coating. A series of elliptical pockets with a horizontal long axis of approximately 410 mm, a short vertical axis of 200 mm and a depth of 130 mm are developed in a notch in the eastern wall of the cave (Osborne et al., 2013).

1) Jayasingha, P., Weliange, W.S., Dandeniya, A.S. and Elgiriya, P., 2010, July. A classification for Sri Lankan caves. In Proceedings of National Archaeological Symposium. pp. 181-192.
2) Kapukotuwa, K.M.A., Ranasinghe, G., Abeynayake, M.D.I.K., Suranga, E.G.J., Shinde, V. and Jadhav, N., 2021. Preliminary Finding of Archaeology Excavation from Rajagalamahalena Cave in Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Archaeology, 1(1), pp.51-62.
3) Katupotha, J. and Sumananarathna, R., 2020. Geotourism and geoheritage potentials: Vistas and unique opportunities of Sri Lanka. WILDLANKA Vol.8, No.2. pp. 050 - 099.
4) Munasinghe, D.S.A., Hanchapola, H.A.S.N., Nissanka, N.A.D.M. and Athapathtu, A.H.M.J.M., 2021. Nature of Prehistoric Archaeological Investigation and Research in Sri Lanka (1992–2019). Vidyodaya Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (VJHSS), Vol. 06 (01). pp.128-143.
5) Osborne, L.A.R., Weliange, W.S., Jayasingha, P., Dandeniya, A.S., Algiriya, A.P.P. and Pogson, R.E., 2013. Caves and karst-like features in Proterozoic gneiss and Cambrian granite, southern and central Sri Lanka: an introduction. Acta Carsologica, 42(1). pp.25-48.
6) Premarathna, K.H., Manamendra-Arachchi, K.N. and Adikari, G., 2013. පොත්ගුල් ලෙන සහ පොතාන ප්‍රාග් ඓතිහාසික මානවයාගේ සත්ත්ව වරණය. Ancient Heritage for Sustainable Development. Proceedings of First Annual Research Conference. pp.154-156.

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This page was last updated on 24 July 2023

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