Category Archives: Sinhalese

Kiribath Vehera, Anuradhapura

Kiribath vehera is an archaeological site situated in Anuradhapura, the once glorious capital city of Sri Lanka.

Situated in the far North of the Ancient city, out of the citadel, Kiribath vehera is in a sad state. To reach the site, one must pass the sacred city, traveling towards the North, taking the Sangamitta road, and pass the ruins at Wijayarama.

Kiribath vehera literally means the ‘Milk rice monastery’. It is not understandable how it got this name. This can be identified as the ancient ‘Uttara Megha-giri viharaya’ mentioned in old scripts and inscriptions. When translated, Uttara Megha-giri vehera gives the meaning, ‘Northern Rain-cloud hill temple’. One pillar inscription found at this place mentions the name, ‘Uthur Megiri watthata’. This pillar inscription can be dated to the 9th or 10th century.

What could be seen here are remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery, including an image house and a stupa. Ruins of the image house are located in front of the ruined stupa.

The ruined stupa is covered with vegetation and hardly can be identified as a stupa. The bricks are spread all over and the top of the stupa there was a large pit dug by robbers when I first visited the site in 2009. The damage caused by robbers and negligence cannot be considered as minor.

As the stupa is collapsed and covered with trees and shrubs, it is difficult to understand its original shape. The stupa can be roughly measured as 30 feet in height and 400 feet in diameter.

The pillars and the brick foundation in front of the stupa can be identified as an image house. However, though smaller in size this demonstrations similarities with the Jethawana image house. The scattered parts of a stone figure can be recognized as a Buddha image.

At present, a positive change cannot be seen as still the site is in a depressed state. Bricks, scattered stones and broken pillars can be seen everywhere. If not conserved soon, the ruins will be destroyed further.

Based on the pillar inscription the place can be identified as the ancient Uttara Megiri wattha monastery or the Uttara Megha-giri viharya.

Ancient scripts records that Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha first visited the Dakunu Megha-giri monastery kept the tooth relic at the temple and sent a messenger to the king. Once receiving the message, the king arrived at the temple and received the tooth relic with royal honour. The couple stopped from entering the citadel or meeting the monarch as soon as they arrived, thus they stayed at the Dakunu Megha-giri monastery and a monk enlightened the monarch with the good news. The Dakunu Megha-giri monastery can be identified as the present day ‘Isuru-muniya monastery’. Scholars assume the ‘Dakunu Megha-giri monastery’ where the couple kept the tooth relic for the first time should be this ‘Uttara Megha-giri vehera’ considering the geographical locations. The Dakunu Megha-giri monastery should surely be located in the Southern part of the capital, which means one must pass the citadel where the most important and secured buildings are located. The ancient main road to Anuradhapura, from North, was across the Malwathu oya. If one takes this road, the citadel must be crossed before reaching the Dakunu Megha-giri monastery. However, the Uttara Megha-giri vehera can be reached easily without crossing the citadel and other important buildings, as it is located out of the boundaries of the most important area of the ancient capital. As the couple landed at a port somewhere in the North, they must have taken this ancient main road to reach Anuradhapura. Furthermore, the royal couple was new to the country and they were escaping the unsafe political situation in their own country, the Kalinga. Considering these reasons, the royal couple must have not chosen to cross the citadel of a kingdom where they are alien to.

© සියලූම හිමිකම් ඇවිරිණි. කතෘගේ ලිඛිත අවසරය නොමැතිව මෙහි සඳහන් කිසිවක් හෝ උපුටා ගැනීම,ගබඩා කර තැබීමනැවත ප්රකාශයපලකිරීම සපුරා තහනම්ය.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved. The words, ideas and images are the intellectual property of Ama H. Vanniarachchy. All work published (words and images) here is copyrighted. If you wish to reproduce the work published here, please inform the writer, to get her written permission and acknowledge this site as the source.

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Dakkina stupa, Anuradhapura

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.

 

Plates

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.

carving

Stone pillar at Dakkina stupa

Dakkina stupa base and dome

Dakkina stupa

Dakkina stupa dome

Dakkina stupa

Dakkina stupa

Dakknia stupa

The Stupa

Kuwera carving

Carving at Dakkina stupa

Basal rings

Dakkina stupa, basal rings.

© සියලූම හිමිකම් ඇවිරිණි. කතෘගේ ලිඛිත අවසරය නොමැතිව මෙහි සඳහන් කිසිවක් හෝ උපුටා ගැනීම,ගබඩා කර තැබීම, නැවත ප්‍රකාශය, පලකිරීම සපුරා තහනම්ය.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved. The words, ideas and images are the intellectual property of Ama H. Vanniarachchy. All work published (words and images) here is copyrighted. If you wish to reproduce the work published here, please inform the writer, to get her written permission and acknowledge this site as the source.

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Trails of a vanishing nation, the Sinhalese.

The Sinhalese are the first to inhabit the fertile lands of Lanka. Archaeological evidences comes in great aid when researching the earliest history of Sri Lanka and this article will present some of the significant archaeological findings to recognize the earliest footsteps of the Sinhalese.

The history of the oldest known human settlement of Sri Lanka dates back to 125,000 years from the present. There is a lacking of literature sources or inscriptional records which belongs to this period. Unfortunately most of the literature sources are mixed up with folklore and mythological tales, covering historical facts, making it difficult to see the truth. The earliest history of the Sinhalese are written as fables which are hard to believe, most of them written with the influence of Hindu mythology. Adding into this mess is countless wrong misinterpretations of the colonial period historians of Sri Lanka during the 19th and 20th centuries. These misinterpretations of the early history of the Sinhalese have been now absorbed by the majority of citizens, as a result of them being printed in school text books. The damage is enormous. Examples of such are the myth of Vijaya being the first Sinhalese king, Sinhalese are decedents of a foreign gangster named Vijaya, who was exiled from his own country, fable of Ravana, non-humans such as Yakshas, Nagas inhabiting the land of Lanka before the arrival of Vijaya etc.

There was an established civilization already existing in Sri Lanka when the Aryan groups started to migrate during the 6th century BC. Aryan migrations occurred far before the 6th century BC. The Sinhalese inhabitants of Sri Lanka had developed an agricultural culture by the 6th century BC. Archaeological evidences proves this. So it is time to give up the idea that ‘Vijaya’ landed with his men and ‘taught’ the Sinhalese about ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’. There are enough evidences to say that Homo sapiens walked on this land since the Palaeolithic period. The Balangoda culture, which is the Microlithic period of Sri Lanka was spread in the Horton plains, Punarin (Northern part of the island), and Mankulam, Miniha gal kanda. There are remains of the Microlithic period found in these sites, which are dated as 28,000 BC to the 9500 BC. Many artefacts have been discovered from Sri Lanka that have identified as belonging to the Palaeolithic period.

Artefacts belonging to the Mesolithic period have been discovered in various locations of Sri Lanka, and they can be dated as belonging to the period of 15000 BC to 10000 BC.

A Megalithic culture (800 BC- 100BC) was spread in almost all over the island. Some of the sites are Pomparippuwa, Guru gal hinna, Kathira weli, Padiyagampola, and the banks of river Walawe. During this period the Sinhalese produced and used iron, red and black ware, established settlements, irrigation and agriculture.

Archaeological evidences in a chronological order
Bundala (Pathiraja wela) – 125,000 years BP human settlements

Pahiyangala (Balangoda) – 31,000 years BP Homo sapiens settlements and human remains (Mesolithic period)

Kuruwita Batadombalena (a cave site) – 28,000 years BP

108 sites identified in Sri Lanka with evidence of a human settlement as old as 500,000 years BP to 5000 years BP.

The oldest known evidence of agriculture in Sri Lanka was found in the Horton plains, which is 20,000 years BP to 15,000 years BP. Evidences of Oats and Barley are found here.
Anuradhapura Salgahawaththa excavations revealed that from the 8th century BC there was an urban civilization in Anuradhapura, with its inhabitants using iron, domestication of horses, paddy cultivation and producing pottery. These are characteristics of early urban civilizations.
It is clear that the earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka who are the Sinhalese, has a history which is 125,000 years of antiquity. It is a fact that the Aryans migrated from the northern or central Asian plains all over the Asia and then to Sri Lanka too. By the time they arrived, Sri Lanka was a land with a civilized human civilization, it’s inhabitants used to cultivate their own food, who knew agriculture, irrigation methods, produced and used iron and pottery, had their own burial rituals and beliefs of an afterlife, organized burial grounds, domesticated horses, and even produced beautiful bead jewellery. It is baseless to hand over the responsibility of urbanization of Sri Lanka to some foreign migrators by ignoring such clear archaeological evidences. By the time of Aryans migrated, Anuradhapura, the pride of the Sinhalese, had already upgraded into a state of an urban centre.

© සියලූම හිමිකම් ඇවිරිණි. කතෘගේ ලිඛිත අවසරය නොමැතිව මෙහි සඳහන් කිසිවක් හෝ උපුටා ගැනීම, ගබඩා කර තැබීම, නැවත ප්‍රකාශය, පලකිරීම සපුරා තහනම්ය.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved. The words, ideas and images are the intellectual property of Ama H. Vanniarachchy. All work published (words and images) here is copyrighted. If you wish to reproduce the work published here, please inform the writer, to get her written permission and acknowledge this site as the source.

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Kotte : Living Among Ruins

Kotte is an ancient city with a heritage older than five centuries. Among the busy streets and tall buildings hidden is a legacy of forgotten heroes and glorious victories of a nation.

Kotte was once the capital of Sri Lanka, a fortress built by Alakeshwara, the warrior. It was a fortress with high security built using latest available technology and fortress building methods. It had strong  ramparts, gates, moats, warehouses, secret pathways and a well-organized complex of tunnels, spy services, armours and barracks, garrisons, gigantic tuskers and elephants, horses, chariot and cavalry  and an army who guarded the city day and night. Inside the city, paved paths were beautified with plants, trees and ponds. Resting places were built besides the roads. The royal palace and the temple of the tooth relic was the pride of the city.

This once glorious city is now in ruins and almost hidden beneath the modern town of Kotte among busy streets, cramped buildings and the buzz of a busy town life.

I am fortunate to be born and live among a city with such a glorious past. I grew up listening to stories of the great warrior, Veediya bandara and Prince Sapumal. I could hear the whispers of Kotte’s forgotten heroes. As a child I wondered where could have been the tunnels explained in old books, where was the beautiful royal palace and those beautiful paths, those ponds with goldfish in them. Where did they all vanish? Why did Kotte die with time, and fade away from our memories? Driven by the love I had for Kotte, I started my first research on Kotte’s lost heritage at university as a scholar in Archaeology.

Today I am pleased to be a part of Kotte Heritage Foundation (KHF) where we take action towards its protection and conservation.

Not only as citizens but also as scholars of archaeology and history I believe it is our utmost duty and responsibility to protect this heritage from further destruction. We, Kotte Heritage Foundation (KHF) is to save this once glorious city with the involvement of the public.

Please join hands with us and be a proud citizen of Kotte’s living heritage.

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