A stupa to commemorate a warrior king
Dakknia stupa or Dakunu dagaba is located in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura, the longest surviving capital of the Sinhalese is one of the greatest cities of the ancient world.
Location – Dakkina stupa is one of the earliest Buddhist stupas, located in the southern part of the ancient capital Anuradhapura, out of the citadel, close to the Thissa wewa.
Name – The name ‘Dakkina stupa’ means the Southern stupa. Other names for this stupa are Dakshina stupa or Dakunu dagaba, which means the ‘Southern dagaba’.
Present situation / remains – At present, what we can see is a ruined brick structure of the ancient stupa. The stupa’s basal rings and dome have survived but not the upper part. There are remains of the ayakas and some stone pillars with carvings. The floor is paved with stone slabs.
History – The stupa once belonged to the Dakkina vehera or the Dakkina monastery, which was built by Utthiya, a minister of King Watta Gamini Abhaya, during the 1st century BC. The name of the stupa and monastery is identified as Dakkina vehera as it is mentioned in a stone inscription, found in 1948 by Prof.Paranavithana. As the stone inscription clearly mentions, the stupa can be identified without any confusions as the Dakkina vehera and stupa. Mahavamsa records that king Watta Gamini Abyaya’s minister Uttiya built a vehera named Dakkina. In the above-mentioned stone inscription, it refers to a king of the name ‘Pitha Maha raja’, which is another name of King Watta Gamini Abhaya.
Later kings extended the Dakkina monastery during times to come. King Kanitta Thissa built a ‘daana shala’ (alms hall), and expanded its boundaries. In addition, this king has built a ‘kanchuka’ for the stupa. He extended the monastery land and cleared a new pathway leading to the stupa. King Voharika Thissa constructed the ‘prakara’ or the wall of the monastery.
There were buildings attached to the ancient monastery such as the ‘Upostha gharaya’, ‘Sanghawasa’ and ‘ Daana shala’ which are not yet identified.
Stupa to commemorate a warrior king – Prof.Paranavithana claims this stupa was built in the place where the heroic Sinhalese king Dutta Gamini Abhaya was cremated, giving evidences of ashes being discovered after excavating the stupa. After scientifically examining the ashes, he exposed that they are human bone ashes and belongs to the period of Dutta Gamini Abhaya, concluding them as the ashes of the warrior king. It is obvious that the ancient Sinhalese built a stupa housing his ashes to commemorate Dutta Gamini Abhaya, for he is considered as one of the greatest rulers of the island.
The notable archaeological features are the remains of ayakas with beautiful carvings. One stone pillar has a carving of a ‘Kalpa wruksha’, which is one fine piece of stonework. Another figure can be identified as ‘Kuwera’, the god of wealth.
Plate 1 – Remains of the Nothern Aayaka. Another beautiful stonework at Dakkina stupa location. This is a carving of the ‘Kalpa wruksha’. A seated figure holds a pot on his head and the kalpa wruksha comes out of the pot. This symbolizes wealth and prospers.
Plate 2, 3 , 4, & 5 –The basal rings and the dome of Dakkina stupa. The stupa is built in bricks. The upper part of the stupa cannot be seen making it hard to understand the shape of the original shape.
Plate 6 – Remains of the Northern Aayaka. This carving is identified as Kuwera, the god of wealth, also the guardian god of the Northern quarter of the universe. Harsh environmental conditions and time has caused enough damage to this beautiful stonework. Cracks can be seen all over the figure and the details of the face are not clear.
There is a second figure beneath the main figure. He is kneeling down and spreading coins on the ground. This helps us to identify the standing figure as Kuwera.
If not protected, we might lose this beautiful stonework in near future.
Plate 7 – The three basal rings cab be seen clearly.
Stone pillar at Dakkina stupa
Carving at Dakkina stupa
Dakkina stupa, basal rings.
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