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.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Kshetrarama Purana Viharaya, Hapuwalana

Hapuwalana Tempita Viharaya
Kshetrarama Purana Tempita Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Hapuwalana village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
The Buddha Sasana that was in a state of declining was started to revive again in the latter part of the Kandyan Era (c.1469-1815 A.D.), and during this period many Buddhist Viharas and Pirivenas bloomed throughout the country. The Buddhist monk named Kinigoda Brahmasosatha Thera who was educated and ordained at one of the Pirivenas established at the time improved a number of Buddhist temples including the Hapuwalana Viharaya (Chandrasoma, 2013).

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) 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. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).
 
Hapuwalana Tempita Viharaya
Hapuwalana Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya is the main aspect of this temple with archaeological value. It has been built upon 25 granite pillars of about 2 feet 6 inches tall (Chandrasoma, 2013). The four-sided roof with an elevated middle portion is paved with flat clay tiles. The shrine is 31 feet long and 17 feet 5 inches wide and can be entered through a flight of steps (Chandrasoma, 2013). It consists of two sections, viz: the inner chamber and the outer ambulatory. The ambulatory which surrounds the inner chamber is 2 feet 8 inches wide (Chandrasoma, 2013). The walls of the outer ambulatory rise up to the roof level and therefore, completely covers the inner chamber. However, three windows are fixed at each side of the shrine (except the front wall) to bring the light inside. Besides the main entrance, another door has been provided on the left-side wall of the ambulatory. Although, the walls of the outer ambulatory contains no paintings or decorations, fragments of two faded paintings depicting the Vessantara Jataka are found on the inner side of the front wall of the ambulatory. 
 
The front wall of the inner chamber has been decorated with a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) and sculptures of deities. A door guarded with two door-keepers has been provided to enter into the inner chamber. A seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta and Moggallana, the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha is found inside the chamber. Two standing statues of Buddha are also found facing each other at both left and right walls. The space of the inside as well as the outside walls of the inner chamber have been filled with the paintings belonging to the Kandyan style.
 
A small open-hall has been built in front of the Tempita shrine recently. 
 
A protected site
The Tempita Shrine and Pohoya Seemawa at the premises of Kshestrarama Purana Vihara in Hapuwana village situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 87, Hapuwalana in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Divulapitiya are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 March 2016.

Hapuwalana Tempita Viharaya Hapuwalana temple Hapuwalana .
References
1) Chandrasoma, S., 2013. Gampaha Distrikkaye Tempita Vihara (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-9159-85-8. pp.63-68.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Extraordinary. No: 1957/18. 9 March 2016. p.5A.
3) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p. 12.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 3 October 2020
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Thunukai Pillar Inscription of Kassapa V

Thunukai inscription
The Thunukai (or Tunukayi) Pillar Inscription is a stone pillar inscription discovered from Thunukai village in Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Presently, the pillar is on the display at the Archaeological Museum of Jaffna.

Discovery
The pillar was discovered from a village named Thunukai near Kottai Kattana-kulam in D.R.O. Division Punakari (see the note below) in 1973 (Ranawella, 2001). It was later taken to the Archaeological Museum at Jaffna. 

Note: The districts of Sri Lanka are divided into administrative sub-units known as Divisional Secretariats. They were formerly known as D.R.O. Divisions (Divisional Revenue Officer). Later the D.R.O.s became 'A.G.A. Divisions (Assistant Government Agents)' and finally to the present 'D.S. Divisions (Divisional Secretary)'. By today, the boundaries of  these old divisions may have been altered.

Pillar
The inscription is on a rectangular stone pillar of which a part at the top had been broken off (Ranawella, 2001). The remaining pillar is about 3 feet 11.5 inches tall and 9 inches wide and the inscription has been engraved on three faces of the pillar while the fourth face contains the figures of a monk's fan, a crow and a dog. Presently, there are 14 lines of writings on the face A & C and 13 lines on face B (Ranawella, 2001). However, the original pillar is said to have had 19 lines on the face A & C and 18 lines on face B (Ranawella, 2001). Symbols of the Sun and the Moon is also said to be on the broken off part of the fourth face (Ranawella, 2001).

Content
Tunukayi inscription
The pillar contains a Sinhala inscription written in the Sinhala scripts of the 10th century (Ranawella, 2001). It has been erected to register certain immunities granted by a king in respect of a village named Polkandugama owned by a hospital (Ranawella, 2001). The preserved fragment does not contain the name of the hospital as well as the king who issued the decree. However, it contains the names of five officials who promulgated the royal decree. These names are occurred in the same official capacities and in the same order in the Kallam-pattuwa and Ayitigeveva pillar inscriptions which are dated in the fifth regnal year of King Kassapa V [(914-923 A.D.) Ranawella, 2001]. Therefore, scholars have retraced the name of the king who should be mentioned in this inscription as King Kassapa V.

The interpretations for the Thunukai pillar inscription by S. Ranawella (2001) are given below,

  • Tunukayi pillar inscription
    Reign          : Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.)
    Period        : 10th century A.D.
    Script         : Medieval Sinhala
    Language  : Medieval Sinhala

    Transcript: Side B: <<....(6)Vedhala (7)bad Polka- (8)ndu-gamat Ra- (9)tladu Pas- (10)laduvan ....>>
    Translation: <<....in respect of Polkandugama which is attached to the hospital situated in....>>


We learn from this epigraph that the village Tunukayi, situated in the District of Jaffna, had been known as Polkandugama, a typical Sinhala name, and the District of Jaffna was under the rule of the kings of the Anuradhapura Kingdom during the tenth century. The fact that the language of this record is Sinhala indicates that the majority of the population in that region at the time were Sinhalese.
Citation: Ranawella, 2001. p.326.
References
1) Ranawella, G.S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon: Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6.  pp.326-328.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 3 October 2020
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Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa Vatadage
Polonnaruwa was the medieval capital of Sri Lanka that existed from the eleventh to the first quarter of the thirteenth century A.D. after the demise of the Anuradhapura Kingdom. Presently, the UNESCO has declared the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa as one of the World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.

World Heritage Site: Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Location : Polonnaruwa District, North-Central Province, Sri Lanka 
Coordinates : N7 54 57 E81 0 2
Date of Inscription : 1982
Criteria :    (i) Immense capital created by the sovereign, Parakramabahu I, in the 12th century, is one of the history’s most astonishing urban creations, both because of its unusual dimensions and because of the very special relationship of its building with the natural setting.
             (iii) Polonnaruwa attests in an exceptional manner to several civilizations, notably that of the conquering Cholas, disciples of Brahmanism, and the Sinhalese sovereigns during the 12th -13th centuries.
              (vi) It is a shrine of Buddhism and Sinhalese history. It is sufficient to recall that the tooth of Buddha, a remarkable relic placed in Atadage under Vijayabahu I, was considered as the talisman of the Sinhalese monarchy. Its removal by Bhuvanekabahu II confirmed the decline of Polonnaruwa. 
Reference : 201: Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, United Nations.

Kingdom of Polonnaruwa
The Polonnaruwa Kingdom was the second kingdom of Sri Lanka that flourished on the island from the 11th to the end of the first quarter of the 13th century.

The invasions made by South Indian Cholas since the end of the 10th century caused the wane of the political stability of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, the first kingdom of Sri Lanka. The Chola conquest of Anuradhapura began in 993 A.D. (Nicholas, 1963) and by 1017 A.D., the Anuradhapura Kingdom was completely fell under the rule of the Chola Empire. The Cholas established their rule in Polonnaruwa and they controlled 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.

After King Vijayabahu I, the kingdom witnessed the golden era of its development during the reigns of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) and King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.). Of them, Parakramabahu I is considered as the greatest and the most reputed ruler of Polonnaruwa who brought the country's economy, culture, and religion to the zenith of the period (Jayasuriya, 2016). However, the throne of the Polonnaruwa after Nissankamalla was transitioned to the hands of several rulers who were weak in reigning or who engaged in internecine struggles. Magha of Kalinga (India) who came with a large army from Malabar (Kerala) invaded Sri Lanka in 1216 A.D. and became the ruler of the country (Dias et al., 2016). He ruled the island for 21 years until 1236. Due to the invasions those mainly flooded from South India, Polonnaruwa was abandoned in the first quarter of the 13th century and the seat of government for the Sinhalese kings was moved to Dambadeniya (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Read the main article: Kingdom of Polonnaruwa

As an important city
Anuradhapura Period
Early human settlements in Polonnaruwa is confirmed by Gopalapabbata, a cave site located within the present Polonnaruwa ancient city where a lithic record (a cave inscription) of the 2nd century B.C. has been found.

During the period of Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.), Polonnaruwa was known as Kandavuru-Nuwara (the camp city) as it was situated at a strategic position between the Northern capital Anuradhapura and the Southern sub-capital Mahagama (Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). Some believe that the Vijithapura Fort where a major battle between the forces of Prince Dutugemunu  (161-137 B.C.)  and King Elara (205-161 B.C.) took place in the 2nd century B.C. was situated in Polonnaruwa or a place very close to it (Nicholas, 1963). However, others in the opinion that this battle happened in Anuradhapura where the present Vijithapura Viharaya stands.

Chronicles mention Polonnaruwa in connection with the construction of Topa Wewa tank during the reign of King Upatissa I [(365-406 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. According to the details given in Culavamsa, King Aggabodhi III (626-641 A.D.) built a Buddhist monastery named Mahapanadipa Viharaya in Polonnaruwa in the 7th century A.D. (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). In the same century, King Aggabodhi IV (658-674 A.D.) temporarily removed the seat of government from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa and resided there until his death (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). Several other rulers in the 8th to 10th centuries A.D. such as King Aggabodhi VII (772-777 A.D.), Sena I (833-853 A.D.), and Sena V (972-982 A.D.) also temporarily resided at Polonnaruwa (Nicholas, 1963). During this era, several Buddhist temples [Sanniratittha Viharaya by Mahinda II (777-797 A.D.)], reservoirs and other structures [a hospital was built by King Udaya I (797-801 A.D.)] were built in and around the Polonnaruwa by Anuradhapura kings (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). 

Polonnaruwa Period
After conquesting the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Cholas established their rule in Polonnaruwa and renamed the city as Jananatha Mangalam (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004).

In 1077 A.D., Vijayabahu I expelled the Cholas and established the Sinhalese Kingdom again (Jayasuriya, 2016). He celebrated his coronation as king at Anuradhapura but shortly afterward transferred the capital to Polonnaruwa (Nicholas, 1963). Therefore, Vijayabahu I is considered as the first king to establish Polonnaruwa as the capital (Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). He called it as Vijayabapura and the Velaikkara inscription reveals that the city was also known as Pulastipura (Wikramagamage, 2004). Vijayabahu constructed the first wall around the city and it was surrounded by a deep moat (Wikramagamage, 2004). Within the walled city, he built a palace for him and a Temple of the Tooth (present Atadage) to place the tooth relic of the Buddha (Nicholas, 1963). His palace which had been within the citadel was later burnt down during the Velaiikara revolt (Wickremasinghe, 1928). 

During the reign of King Parakramabahu I, Polonnaruwa reached its peak of glory and in that period many buildings were added to the city (Nicholas, 1963). Parakramabhu I constructed a palace of 7-stories known as Vaijayantha Prasada within the citadel and a Temple of the Tooth (present Vatadage) in the Sacred Quadrangle premises (Seneviratna, 1998). He also caused to build a large number of structures within the city such as the Deepa Uyana, Alahana Pirivena, Gal Viharaya, Jetavanaramaya, etc (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
Nissankamalla continued the program of work established by Parakramabahu I. A majority of inscriptions found in Polonnaruwa belong to him. He is also credited with constructing many city structures and monasteries including Nissankalata Mandapaya, Hetadage, Rankoth Vehera, etc.

Monuments
Note: The monuments listed here are arranged in the order of the location (from south to north direction) where they situated in the city. 
 
The city of Polonnaruwa is extending in an area of about 122 hectares (Jayasuriya, 2016). It stretches about five km from south to north and about three km from east to west (Jayasuriya, 2016). The majority of monuments found in the city are built of brick.
 
Potgul Vehera Complex
Ruins of the monastery complex known as Potgul Vehera or the Library Monastery is located at the southern end of the city. Also, the famous statue which is believed to be the statue of Parakramabhu is found here.

This site has been identified as the Dipa Uyana (the Island Park) built by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.). It is located to the west of the walls of the Palace of Parakramabahu I and extends up to the verge of the Parakrama Samudra reservoir (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruins of many important monuments including the Council Chamber, and the Audience Hall of Nissankamalla, Dhavalagharaya are located within this premises. 

The Citadel
The Citadel or the Royal enclosure is the city center of Polonnaruwa and extends in an oblong area about 8.6 hectares. Fortified by wide and high brick ramparts on all for sides, the citadel was reserved for the palaces of kings and its appurtenant buildings. Ruins of many buildings including the Vaijayantha Prasada (the Palace of Parakramabahu I), Raja Vaishyabhujanga Mandapa (the Council Chamber of Parakramabahu I) could be seen here. Between the Vaijayantha Prasada and the Raja Vaishyabhujanga Mandapa is a foundation that is believed to be the basement of the palace built by Vijayabahu I. The royal bath pond named Kumara Pokuna is located beyond the city wall in the south-east quarter.

Several monuments including the Siva Devale No. 1 and the slab inscription at the north entrance to the citadel are found in the premises located between the Citadel and the Dalada Maluwa.

Dalada Maluwa
The Dalada Maluwa or the Sacred Quadrangle is reserved for the shrines for the Tooth-Relic and buildings connected with its worship. It is an elevated terrace because the of the Temple of the Tooth was built here. The first Temple of the Tooth was built here by Vijayabahu I and the building presently called Atadage has been identified as that shrine. The Velaikkara Slab Inscription erected near to it reveals that the security of this shrine has been entrusted to Velaikkar soldiers. The magnificent circular structure known as the Vatadage which is in the Dalada Maluwa premises is thought to be the Temple of the Tooth built by Parakramabahu I. In front of this shrine is the Hetadage which is the Temple of the Tooth shrine built by Nissankamalla. The other monuments in the Dalada Maluwa premises include the Galpota inscription, Satmahal Prasada, Thuparama Pilimage, Nissankalata Mandapa, Pohoya Geya (the chapter house), Bosath Pilimage (the Bodhisatva image house), Sethapena Pilimage (the recumbent image house), Bodhighara (the Bodhi-tree shrine), and the Gatehouse.

After the Dalada Maluwa premises, the path of the city runs towards the Northern Gate of the Outer City. A few monuments such as Pabalu Vehera and Siva Devale No. 2 are found located around that pathway.

Northern Gate & the Main Street
Enclosed by high ramparts, the Northern Gate of the Polonnaruwa city is found at a spot between the Dalada Maluwa and the Rankotha Vehera premises. On either side of the gate are chambers that are believed to be ancient guardrooms. The path that running across the gate is the Main Street and there is evidence that there had been a properly laid out intricate drainage system on either side of the street. Foundations of small Hindu shrines such as Siva Devale No. 3, Ganapati Devalaya, and Visnu Devalaya and small rooms which are thought to be trade stall are also found adjacent to the Northern Gate.

Ruins of several monasteries such as Menik Vehera and Rankoth Vehera are located between the Northern Gate and the Alahana Pirivena premises. 

Alahana Pirivena
Extending in an area of 35 hectares, Alahana Pirivena is considered the largest monastery complex in Polonnaruwa. It was built by Parakramabahu I on a site that had been a former cremation ground. The boundaries of Alahana Pirivena extend from Gopalapabbata up to Gal Viharaya and many monuments are found built within this premises. The monastery has a terraced layout. Monuments such as Kiri Vehera, Lankathilaka Pilimage, Baddhasima Prasada, and some small Stupas (crematory Stupas, double Stupa, etc.) are found erected on two upper terraces. Other monuments including the monastic hospital, ponds, and the cells of residents monks are located on the lower terrace. 

To the north of the Alahana Pirivena are several ruins of Buddhist monasteries including Gal Viharaya and Demelamaha Seya.

Jetavanaramaya
Built by Parakramabahu I, Jetavanarama Monastery is located at the northernmost part of the ancient city. Monuments such as Nelum Pokuna and Thivanka Pilimage are situated here.
 
Several Hindu shrines
There are some Hindu shrines on the Polonnaruwa-Hatamuna road and Polonnaruwa-Habarana road. They are believed to have been built during the period when Polonnaruwa was under the Chola rule. Naipena Viharaya, Siva Devale No. 5, and temples dedicated to deities such as Visnu and Kali are among these shrines.
 
Conservation
Scholars such as S.M. Burrows, H.C.P. Bell, E.R. Ayrton, A.M. Hocart, and S. Paranavitana have carried out extensive archaeological excavations and conservation in the Polonnaruwa ancient city since the second half of the 19th century (Jayasuriya, 2016). Since 1980, the city is conserved under the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Project and this work continues even today under the Central Cultural Fund (Wikramagamage, 2004).
 
References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.178-179.
2) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.67-89.
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.174-180.
4) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.19.
5) Seneviratna, A, 1998. Polonnaruwa, medieval capital of Sri Lanka: An illustrated survey of ancient monuments: Archaeological Survey Dept, p. 116.
6) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.197-228.
7) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.242-255.

This page was last updated on 5 October 2020
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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Kingdom of Polonnaruwa

Hetadage
The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa (also known as Pulastipura) was the second kingdom of Sri Lanka that flourished on the island from the 11th to the end of the first quarter of the 13th century.

History
Early period
Human settlements in Polonnaruwa can be dated back to the 2nd century B.C. (Jayasuriya, 2016). Gopalapabbata, a cave site located within the present Polonnaruwa ancient city furnishes evidence for the early inhabitants of the area. During the period of Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.), Polonnaruwa was known as Kandavuru-Nuwara (the camp city) as it was situated at a strategic position between the Northern capital Anuradhapura and the Southern sub-capital Mahagama (Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). According to the details given in Culavamsa, King Aggabodhi III (626-641 A.D.) built a Buddhist monastery named Mahapanadipa Viharaya in Polonnaruwa in the 7th century A.D. (Nicholas, 1963). In the same century, King Aggabodhi IV (658-674 A.D.) removed the seat of government from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa and resided there until his death (Nicholas, 1963). Several other rulers in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. such as King Aggabodhi VII (772-777 A.D.) and Sena I (833-853 A.D.) also resided at Polonnaruwa (Nicholas, 1963). During this era, several reservoirs were built in and around the Polonnaruwa by Anuradhapura kings (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Foreign invasions caused the wane of the political stability of the Anuradhapura Kingdom and as a result of that, the Sri Lankan rulers attracted to Polonnaruwa as they found it as safer ground than their first capital Anuradhapura. The invades made by South Indian Cholas since the end of the 10th century resulted in the gradual downfall of the Anuradhapura Kingdom.

Chola period (1017-1070 A.D.)
The Chola conquest of Anuradhapura began with the invasion in 993 A.D. by King Raja Raja I (c. 985-1014 A.D.) who sent a large Chola army to Sri Lanka. In 1017 A.D., during the reign of Rajendra Chola I (c.1014-1044 A.D.), the Anuradhapura Kingdom was 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). The Cholas established their rule in Polonnaruwa through a viceroy and renamed the city as Jananatha Mangalam (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963). 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. The Chola hegemony in Polonnaruwa for nearly five decades made a major influence on the culture of the island as well as resulted in the emergence of Polonnaruwa as the second great capital of Sri Lanka.

Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.)
Vijayabahu I expelled the Cholas and established the Sinhalese Kingdom again in the country after the demise of the Anuradhapura Kingdom (Jayasuriya, 2016). He celebrated his coronation as king at Anuradhapura but shortly afterward transferred the capital to Polonnaruwa (Nicholas, 1963). Therefore, Vijayabahu I is considered as the first king to establish Polonnaruwa as the capital (Jayasuriya, 2016; Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). Changes were done in political, social, religious, and economic aspects during this reign. He got down Buddhist monks from Myanmar to revive Buddhism in the country (Jayasuriya, 2016). However, the administrative success of Vijayabahu I was come to a virtual halt soon after his death due to the internal conflicts that created by several contenders to the throne (Jayasuriya, 2016). Velaikkara inscription gives some details about the Velaikkara revolt that erupted during the Vijayabahu's reign and about the problematic period that occurred soon after the death of Vijayabahu I (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.)
Gal Viharaya
Parakramabahu I (or Parakramabahu the Great) emerged as the most successful ruler after King Vijayabahu I. He is considered as the greatest and the most reputed ruler of Polonnaruwa who brought the country's economy, culture, and religion to the zenith of the period (Jayasuriya, 2016). His achievements in agriculture and irrigation, trade and foreign relations (see: Nagadeepa inscription), and cultural activities made the Polonnaruwa era one of the most shining and successful periods of the Sri Lankan history (Indrapala, 1963; Nicholas, 1963). The unification of the divided communities of Buddhist monks [see: Katikavata inscription of Parakramabahu I  (Gal Vihara Ordinance)], the war against Myanmar (see: Devanagala inscription of Parakramabahu I), and the Sinhalese expedition against the Pandya country (see: Arpakkam inscription) are a few of important events of the Parakramabahu's period (Jayasuriya, 2016; Paranavitana, 1933; Wickremasinghe, 1928).

Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Nissankamalla of the Kalinga Dynasty was able to continue the program of work established by Parakramabahu I (Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963). He is credited with the most number of inscriptions in Polonnaruwa (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Demise
The throne of the Polonnaruwa after Nissankamalla was transitioned to the hands of several rulers who were weak in reigning or who engaged in internecine struggles (Dias et al., 2016). As a result of that, the country's political stability became poorer and the situation was comported for the invasions carried out by several Tamil invaders from South India such as Parakrama Pandya (1212-1216 A.D.). Magha of Kalinga (India) who came with a large army from Malabar (Kerala) invaded Sri Lanka during the reign of Parakrama Pandya and became the ruler of the country (Dias et al., 2016). He ruled the island for 21 years until 1236. Due to the invasions those mainly flooded from South India, Polonnaruwa was abandoned in the first quarter of the 13th century and the seat of government for the Sinhalese kings was moved to Dambadeniya (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Rulers of the Polonnaruwa
The Polonnaruwa lasted a little over two centuries (1017-1236 A.D.). During this period 16 Sinhalese rulers (except the invaders) including two queens held reign. Of them, Queen Lilavati ruled Polonnaruwa three times intermittently. In terms of the economic and cultural achievements, three rulers namely Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.), Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.), and Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) are considered great kings during the Polonnaruwa period (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

Period of Chola rule (1017-1070 A.D.)                          Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.)
Jayabahu I (1110-1111 A.D.)                                          Vikramabahu I (1111-1132 A.D.)
Gajabahu II (1132-1153 A.D.)                                          Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.)
Vijayabahu II (1186-1187 A.D.)                                       Mahinda (1187-1187 A.D.)
Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)                                   Veerabahu (1196-1196 A.D.)
Vikramabahu II (1196 A.D.)                                             Chodagangadeva (1196-1197)
Queen Lilavathi (1st round: 1197-1200 A.D.)                Sahassamalla (1200-1202 A.D.)
Queen Kalyanavathi (1202-1208 A.D.)                           Darmashokadeva (1208-1209 A.D.)
Commander Anikanga (1209-1209 A.D.)                      Queen Lilavathi (2nd round: 1209-1210 A.D.)
Commander Lokeshwara (1210-1211 A.D.)                 Queen Lilavathi (3rd round: 1211-1212 A.D.)
Parakrama Pandya (1212-1216 A.D.)                             Kalinga Magha (1216-1236 A.D.) 

(After Vijayabahu I (1070-1110 A.D.), there were three rulers in the country;  Manabharana in Dakkhinadesa, Siriwallabha in Dolosdahasrata, and Kithirimegha in Atadahaserata).

Literature
Sinhala language and Sinhala scripts developed to a great extent during the Polonnaruwa era. Within this period Sinhala scripts became more curve than their previous forms and in the next two or three centuries, they reached the pre-form of the modern Sinhala letters. After gaining independence from Cholas, the literature of the Polonnaruwa period saw a new era of its development.

Notable literary works of the Polonnaruwa period
1) Amavatura             -  Authored by Gurulugomi during the 12th century A.D.
2) Butsarana              -  Authored by Vidyachakravarti
3) Dharmapradipika -  Authored by Gurulugomi during the 12th century A.D.
4) Muvadevudavata  -  Composed during the reign of Vijayabahu I
5) Nimi Jataka           -  The only Sinhalese prose work
6) Sasadawatha        -  A Sinhalese poem composed during the reign of Lilavati in her first period of rule

Pali & Sanskrit works
1) Abhidammttha-sangaha                   2) Abhidhanappadipika                   3) Dhatavamsa                        
4) Samantapasadika                              5) Sararthadeepani

Coins
Polonnaruwa coins
Cholas who ruled the country before Vijayabahu I had issued coins with their names following the model of the gold coins of the Anuradhapura Period. After becoming the king of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom, Vijayabahu I also released coins under his name "Sri Vijayabahu" engraved in Nagari letters. This is considered the first time a Sri Lankan king released coins that containing the name of him. Following Vijayabau I, several successive rulers such as Parakramabahu I, Nissankamalla, Lilavati etc. issued coins by embedding their names on them.

Ruler                                                    Period                                             Legend on the coin
Vijayabahu I                                 1070-1110 A.D                                     Sri Vijayabahu
Parakramabhu                            1153-1186 A.D.                                     Sri Parakramabahu
Nissankamalla                            1187-1196 A.D.                                    Sri Kalinga Lakeja
Chodagangadeva                       1196-1197 A.D.                                    Sri Codagangadeva
Lilavati                                          1197-1200 A.D.                                   Sri Raja Leelavati
Sahassamalla                             1200-1202 A.D.                                    Srimath Sahassamalla
Dharmasokadeva                       1208 A.D.                                              Sri Dharmasokadeva
 
Polonnaruwa ancient city
The city of Polonnaruwa is extending in an area of about 122 hectares (Jayasuriya, 2016). It stretches about five km from south to north and about three km from east to west (Jayasuriya, 2016). Presently, the UNESCO has declared the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa as one of the World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.

Read the main article: Ancient Polonnaruwa City.
References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.178-179.
2) Indrapala, K., 1963. The Nainativu Tamil Inscription of Parakramabahu I. University of Ceylon Review. Vol. XXI; No, I. University of Ceylon. Peradeniya. pp.63-70.
3) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.67-70.
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). pp.174-180.
5) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Devanagala rock inscription of Parakramabahu I. 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.312-325.
6) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.19.
7) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.242-255,256-283.

This page was last updated on 3 October 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Ridi Viharaya

Maha Viharaya
Ridi Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Ridigama in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Ridi Viharaya goes back to the early period of the Anuradhapura era (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.). Early-Brahmi inscriptions that have been discovered in the drip-ledged caves located on the premises of Ridi Vihara temple give evidence that the caves were used as the habitats of the forest-dwelling Buddhist monks since the 2nd century B.C. (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970). 
 
The ancient name of this place was Ambatthakola-lena (Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883). During the reign of King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.) silver ore is said to have been found from the Ambatthakola-lena cave (Nicholas, 1963). In the Pali works such as Mahavamsa, this temple is called Rajata-lena (Sin: Ridi-lena; Eng: Silver-cave) and King Amandagamani Abhaya (22-31 A.D.) is said to have constructed the Rajata-lena Viharaya [(present Ridi Viharaya) Charles, 1990; Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883; Nicholas, 1963]. However, the widely accepted tradition is that this temple was founded by King Dutugemunu (Modder, 1896; Muller, 1883). Several chronicles such as Culavamsa and Ridi Vihara Asna records that King Dutugeunu built the Viharaya after removal of the silver ore that discovered from the site (JCBRAS, 1923; Modder, 1896). King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) and King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) are said to have visited this temple during the Polonnaruwa Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Ridi Viharaya
The temple which was in a state of ruins for a long period of time was repaired and renovated under the patronage of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Charles, 1990; Modder, 1896]. The king, according to Culavamsa (this is also identified as a part of Mahavamsa), gave over the charge of the temple to a novice monk named Siddhattha, who accordingly carried out more repairs, improvements, and additions to the temple (Coomaraswamy, 1908; Holt, 1996; Modder, 1896). The Buddhist monk Tibbatuwawe Buddharakshita who was assigned by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha to update the chronicle Culavamsa from its 13th-century state was originally from Ridi Viharaya and therefore, the description about these restoration efforts by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha has been given in Culavamsa in a very detailed manner (Holt, 1996).

Origin of the name & Ridi Vihara legend
A popular legend revealed by several old texts such as "Ridivihara Satara Mayim Asum" (The narrative of the four boundaries of Ridi Vihara) and "Ridi Vihara Asna" describes how the present name "Ridi Viharaya" originated and further provide details on the construction of Ridi Viharaya and offering of lands for the endowment of the temple and boundary details of those lands (JCBRAS, 1923). According to the legend, silver ore was discovered in a cave in the township of Emtota (Pali: Ambatthakola) near Deduruoya by an enterprising trader, at the time King Dutugemunu was about to build Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura (JCBRAS, 1923). After informed by the trader, the king removed the silver ore and constructed a Vihara at the site (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; JCBRAS, 1923). The name Ridi Viharaya (the Silver temple) is thought to have originated thereafter (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Inscriptions
A number of cave and rock inscriptions dating from the 2nd century to the 7th century A.D. have been discovered from the site (Dias, 1991; Paranavitana, 1970).

Ridi Vihara cave inscriptions
Ridi Vihara cave inscriptions
Period: 2nd-1st centuries B.C.
Script: Early-Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: Parumaka-Puna-puta Parumaka tishaha lene shagasha
Translation: The cave of chief Tissa, son of the chief Punna [is given] to Sangha (to the Buddhist monks)
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970.

Ridi Vihara rock inscription of Amanda Gamini Abhaya
Reign: Amanda Gamini Abhaya (22-31 A.D.)
Period: 1st century A.D.                    Script: Later Brahmi                    Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: (1) Devanapiya Tisa Rajaha marumanake Tisa Maha Rajaha marumanake Naka Maha Rajaha puta Gaini Abaya dine Kulagama saha Padagamake (2) sovana kutareke
Translation: The villages Padagaa and Kulagama were donated by Gaini Abhaya, son of the great king Naga, grandson of king Tissa, grandson (also) of the great king Tissa, friend of the gods by performing the symbolic act of pouring water fro the golden vase.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

Ridi Vihara rock inscription
Ridi Vihara rock inscription 
Period: 2nd-3rd centuries A.D.
Script: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: vahamala kariyahi (na)va (karihaka kubara...)
Translation: Paddy field of nine karisa (thinly six amunas) at Vahamala Kariya.
Citation: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

Ridi Vihara rock inscription 
Period: 5-7th centuries A.D.                    Script: Transitional Brahmi                    Language: Old Sinhala
Transcription: (1) Patagalayaha Samanalaha cidavi vi (2) harala savasanata-pati
Translation: Samanala of Patagala was freed from vaharala and the merit thereof has been conferred on all beings.
References: Dias, 1991; The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage

The temple complex
The temple complex consists of a number of ancient monuments. They include Vahalkada, tomb, old preaching hall, old Awasa-ge, Waraka-velandu Viharaya, old Bodhi-tree, Hewisi Mandapaya, Maha Viharaya, Uda Viharaya, Stupa, Serasumgala Stupa, caves, etc.

Maha Viharaya
Maha Viharaya
Maha Viharaya (also known as Pahala Viharaya: the lower shrine) is situated under the shade of a huge rock cave and is the main shrine of the temple (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The Ridi Vihara legend says that it was here on this spot that the silver ore for the Ruwanweliseya was found.

Many paintings and sculptures belong to an older period than the Kandyan era are found here (Charles, 1990). The sculptures are made out of brick and mortar, sometimes over a wooden core. In the shrine, a number of Buddha statues in various postures are found. They include the gold-plated standing Buddha of Abhaya-mudra, two seated Buddha statues, one reclining statue, the standing Buddha of Varada-mudra, etc (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). Other statues such as the statue of King Dutugemunu, Bodhisattva Maitree, and Ananda Thera are also found inside the shrine (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). The floor in which the reclining Buddha statue is placed is decorated with Dutch era porcelain floor tiles depicting some scene from the life of Jesus Christ (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The majority of paintings in the old Viharaya have been renovated by Devaragampola Silvattena (unordained monk) with the assistance of Tilavala Gallada (Charles, 1990).

To the right of the Maha Viharaya is a small Buddha shrine and on the frame of the door leading into which has an elaborately carved ivory panel popularly known as the carving of Panca-nāri-ghaṭa (the pot of five women). This carving is considered as an excellent example that depicting the Sinhalese artists' skill in the art of ivory-carving. Large fragments of plasters with paintings are also found on the cave roof (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Uda Viharaya
Uda Viharaya
The upper part of the main cave was converted into an image house during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha and presently known as the Uda Viharaya [(the upper shrine) Coomaraswamy, 1908; Modder, 1896]. There is a flight of stone steps leading to this shrine from the rear part of Maha Viharaya.

A finely preserved collection of murals and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan tradition is found in this shrine. A seated statue of the Buddha under a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) is the main statue of the shrine. The statue is in the Veerasana posture and its hands depict the Dyana-mudra (Piyadassi Thera, 2017). Two standing Buddha statues depicting Abhaya-mudra and two statues of the god Vishnu and god Saman are also found inside the shrine (Piyadassi Thera, 2017).

The Suvisi-Buddhas (previous 24 Buddhas with Bodhi-trees), the Suvisi-vivaranaya (Buddha to be receiving the blessing from 24 previous Buddhas), the Sat-satiya (the first seven weeks after the enlightenment), and the Solosmasthana (sixteen most sacred places in the island) are identified as the main paintings drawn on the walls of the Uda Viharaya (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The Narilatha, Nava-nari-kunjaraya (nine entwined maiden figures in the shape of an elephant), Three-Simha (three seated lion figures with one head), Sarabhamurthiya, and Vrsabha-kunjaraya (heads of a bull and an elephant entwined) are also among the other notable paintings found here (Charles, 1990; Piyadassi Thera, 2017).

Waraka-velandu Viharaya
This is referred to a shrine similar to a Hindu temple in appearance (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The building consists of a stone Mandapa in front of a cella situated beneath an overhanging rock. In Sinhala "Waraka-velandu Viharaya" means "the shrine in which jack-fruit was partaken of" (Modder, 1896). According to Ridi Vihara legend, this was the spot where the Arhant named Indra-gupta partook the Jack-fruit offered by the trader (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Modder, 1896).

Serasumgala ruins
The rock to the right of the temple entrance is known as Serasumgala and believed to be the place where the initial Stupa of Ridi Viharaya temple had been built (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). A number of ancient monuments and ruins such as the Serasumgala Stupa, rock inscriptions, rock caves, rock-cut flight of steps, and other artifacts are found here.

A protected site
The rock with the inscription dating from B.C. to the early period of A.D. and the ancient cave temple belonging to the 1100-1800 A.D. period in Ridi Vihara in Rideegama Village in Divisional Secretary’s Division of Ridigama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 11 August 1967.

Ridi Viharaya Serasumgala .
References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.52-54.
2) Charles, S.P., 1990. Section III: Painting (1200 A.D.-1400 A.D.). Nandadeva W. (Editor in chief), Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series (Vol. V). Painting. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.90-91.
3) Coomaraswamy, A.K., 1908. Mediaeval Sinhalese Art. pp.165,172-173.
4) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.79-80.
5) Holt, J.C., 1996. The religious world of Kīrti Śrī: Buddhism, art, and politics in late Medieval Sri Lanka. Oxford University Press on Demand. pp.109,112-114.
6) JCBRAS, 1923. Palm leaf manuscripts on Ridi Vihara. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland 29, No. 76. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43483214. pp.133-144.
7) 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.106.
8) Modder, F.H., 1896. Ancient cities and temples in the Kurunegala District: Ridi Vihare. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland Vol. XIV. No. 47. pp.118-124.
9) Muller, E., 1883. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. London. p.39.
10) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.69.
11) Piyadassi Thera, H., 2017. Ridi Vihare kathava (In Sinhala). Published by the Aithihasika Ridi Viharaya-Ridigama. ISBN: 978-955-50458-6-5. pp.17-24.
12) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 14761. 11 August 1967.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 27 September 2020
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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Nagadeepa Viharaya, Mahiyanganaya

Not to be confused with Nagadeepa Viharaya in Jaffna

Nagadeepa Stupa, Ridimaliyadda
Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Uraniya village in Rideemaliyadda, Badulla District, Sri Lanka.

History
Folklore
According to local tradition, the history of Nagadeepa Viharaya goes far back as the history of nearby Mahiyangana Viharaya. Some believe that this temple was built during the reigns of King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.) and King Dutugemunu [(161-137 B.C.) Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017]. It is also said that Prince Dutugemunu and his army who were advancing to Mahiyanganaya from Mahagama (present Tissamaharama) in the second century B.C. had passed a place named Tungam Kasatapitiya, a place probably located near Uraniya (Nicholas, 1963).
 
The name: Nagadeepa
Two anecdotes are there that describe how the present name "Nagadeepa" originated (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). According to one anecdote, the name has come into parlance as a Buddhist monk who arrived from Nagadeepa (present Jaffna Peninsula) had lived in this area. The other anecdote says that the name has come to usage as it is related to the Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). According to Sri Lankan chronicles such as Mahavamsa, the Buddha in the fifth year after his enlightenment visited Nagadeepa in Sri Lanka to settle a dispute that arose between two royal kinsmen of the Naga clan Chulodara and Mahodara (nephew and uncle). As the present temple site is located very near to Mahiyanganaya (the place to where the Buddha's first arrival happened), locals have tended to believe that this temple is the original Nagadeepa that is mentioned in chronicles. However, extensive archaeological investigations conducted by scholars have identified the present Jaffna Peninsula as the ancient Nagadeepa (Pieris, 1917; Pieris, 1919).

Inscriptions
A few slab and pillar inscriptions belonging to the 6-7th, 9-10th, and 17th centuries A.D. have been discovered from the site. Of them, the slab inscription with the characters of the 6-7th centuries A.D. is almost worn. The inscription of 9-10th centuries A.D. is found engraved on a stone pillar which is now broken into two pieces.
Uraniya Nagadeepa fragmentary pillar inscription

Uraniya Nagadeepa fragmentary pillar inscription

Period:
9th-10th centuries A.D
Script: Medieval Sinhala
Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: This is a Samvata pahan or an edictal pillar put up by the king's officials, having come to an agreement to bestow some privileges to a monastery.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

The 17th-century inscription records; "Nagadeepeta Pooja vu pradeepe 1691" (the lamp donated to Nagadeepa 1691). This inscription confirms that this place is known as Nagadeepa since the 17th century. 

The temple
The temple is situated adjoining the Nagadeepa Maha Wewa reservoir that was built by damming the Heppola Oya under an irrigation scheme set up in 1969. With this irrigation scheme, some of the unexplored ruins around the temple premises are said to have gone under the water of the reservoir. During the Mahiyangana Gam Udawa program in 1989, some restoration works were carried out for the development of the temple. On 11 August 2008, the then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited this temple and participated in some religious activities.
 
A large number of ruins including two Stupas, the ruins of an ancient image house, and a building with stone pillars which is believed to be a Devalaya have been discovered from the site (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017). As evident by this large number of ancient ruins, it is assumed that this temple may have existed as a Vihara complex in the past (Priyadarshani & Gunasena, 2017)

Stupas
The Kanchuka Stupa
There are two ancient Stupas at the site. Of them, the oldest Stupa which is known as the Kanchuka Stupa is located at the top of a small hillock like a massive overgrown mound of earth. According to the view of some, that mound of earth, in ancient times, was also a massive Stupa built by constructing a bricklayer over it. Locals believe that this Stupa was built by King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.).

The other Stupa of the temple is located at a lower ground than the largest one and is believed to have been built by King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.). 

Ancient image house
The ancient image house is located near to the small Stupa and it presently lays under the foundation of a modern building which was used as the monks' dwelling until the recent past. The dilapidated foundation of the ancient image house and a plain Sandakada Pahana (a moonstone) belonging to the early Anuradhapura Period (Anuradhapura Period: 377 B.C.-1017 A.D.) are still visible beneath the foundation of the modern building. However, the government authorities have taken necessary measurements to demolish that modern building and unearth the ancient image house. 

The Bodhi-tree
The Bodhi-tree in Uraniya Nagadeepa Viharaya is said to be one of the 32 saplings of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura. Locals strictly believe that by doing suitable religious rituals for this Bodhi-tree they can fulfill their future hopes and expectations. 

A protected site
The ancient Nagadipa Raja Maha Vihara in Uraniya Village in Divisional Secretary’s Division of Ridimaliyadda is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 19 November 1960.


Ridimaliyadda Nagadeepa Nagadeepa temple, Mahiyangana .
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). p.50.
2) Pieris, P.E., 1917. Nagadipa and Buddhist remains in Jaffna. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, (Vol. 26). pp.11-30.
3) Pieris, P.E., 1919. Nagadipa and Buddhist remains in Jaffna: Part II. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, (Vol. 28). pp.40-67.
4) Priyadarshani, S.A.N.; Gunasena, I.P.P., 2017. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Badulla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-48-8. pp.20-22.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 12230. 19 November 1960.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 26 September 2020
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Veheragala Viharaya, Ampara

The flight of steps at the entrance
Veheragala Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Veheragala Sripa Aranya Senasanaya or Purana Deva Raja Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Dighavapi village in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. Located near to the sacred Dighavapi Viharaya, this Veheragala temple can be reached by traveling along Digavapi temple road about 7 km distance from the Varipathanchena junction.

History
According to the two rock inscriptions that have been found from the temple premises, the history of this temple can be dated back to the 1st century A.D. Of these two inscriptions, one reveals the ancient name of this temple as "Deva-raja Viharaya".

Inscriptions (see the note below)
Two inscriptions belonging to the 1st century A.D. are found engraved on the rock near the pond.  They have been indited near to each other and visible as one inscription comprising two lines. Some letters of the two inscriptions are in worn condition and are difficult to read.

Inscription I :Sidam..aka(na) gathahi....(de)varaja viharahi mahanaka dine
Context : According to this inscription, this place is known in ancient time as "Deva-raja Viharaya". The name mentioned as "mahanaka" is thought to be King Mahadatika Mahanaga who reigned from 9 to 21 A.D. Several inscriptions that mention the name "mahanaka" have been found from nearby areas. The Vehera-Uda-Male rock inscription of the Eravur Pattu of Batticaloa District is one of them (Paranavitana, 1983).

Inscription II :Sidam gu..(ra)vavika divarajavi(ha) raha bikasagahatavavi
Context : Some letters of this inscriptions can not be identified due to the worn condition. It is assumed that this inscription records about the bestowal of several tanks to the temple.

Other monuments
Ampara Veheragala
The flight of steps at the entrance
The temple complex, in ancient time, had been constructed on the plateau of the rock. To enter the temple, a rock-cut flight of steps extending from the north to the south has been provided. The length of the flight of steps is about 16 m and it consists of 39 steps. On the summit of the rock plateau is a Stupa constructed in the recent past.

The pond and the flight of steps
The rock plateau extends towards the west as well as to the south from the modern Stupa. On the rock plateau, a stone pond (Gal Kemiya) with a length of 4.2 m and 3.6 m width is found. Near to it is a 7 m long flight of steps that extending from south to east.

Ruined buildings
A few sites with the ruins of ancient buildings and structures is found on the rock plateau extending to the west. Remains of stone bases, urinal stones, and scattered brick pieces are also found.

Veheragala cave site
A site with drip-ledged caves is found extending from the area near Dighavapi Sinhala Vidyalaya up to the Veheragala Viharaya. Two caves with drip-ledges and one early-Brahmi inscription are found here.

A protected site
Veheragala Viharaya
Rock with rock inscriptions, ruins of buildings and flight of steps and the pond with stone rampart wall at the base of the said rock at the place called “Veheragala” belonging to Deegawapi Buddhist colony in Grama Niladari Division No. 1, Deegawapi in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Addalachchenei are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 10 October 2014.
 
Veheragala cave site
Drip ledged cave complex with Brahmi inscriptions extended from the area near Sinhala College up to archeological site “Veheragala” belonging to Deegawapi colony village in the Grama Niladari Division No. 1 Deegawapi in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Addalachchenei is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 10 October 2014. 

Ampara Veheragala Ruined building .
Note
This page contains information extracted from a Sinhala book which was in the possession of the chief monk of the Viharaya. Unluckily, the monk didn't has the initial pages of that book and therefore we were unable to find out the original author and the year of that publication.

References
1) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon; Late Brahmi inscriptions 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.42-43.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1884. 10 October 2014. p.920.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 20 September 2020
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