Posted by: lrrp | November 9, 2004

Archaeological site in danger claim historians by Damitha Hemachandra

The archaeological site at Kuragala off Balangoda where a Muslim shrine popularly known as Jailani and also where ruins of a Buddhist monastery are located is in the midst of a dispute.

The sheer negligence of the Archaeological Department and the provincial authorities was destroying the 2000-year-old Kuragala Monastery, claimed historians and archaeologists.

Kuragala, which was known as ‘Thandulayia Pabbatha’ was a Buddhist monastery built in the second century BC, claimed archaeologist Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera.

“The Brahmin rock inscriptions in these caves indicate that two princes had first built this monastery and it had evolved into a Buddhist temple and monastery system in the 16th Century AC,” Ven. Medhananda said.

The 33 acre archaeological conservation site still consists of an old Stupa, cave systems, remains of temple buildings while a 450 metre road leads to further ruins.

Legend connects the Kuragala monastery with the mythical King Ravana, while it is also claimed to be Divaguhava, where Lord Buddha spent the noontime after establishing his footprint at Adams’ Peak.

The All Ceylon Buddhist Conference (ACBC) alleged that the Muslim community living around the temple had encroached into the archaeological conservation during the past decade.

According to historian Matugama Seneviruwan the community had built two mosques within the conservation, claiming the grounds held religious importance to them.

“They had built a mosque destroying two caves, which are of historical importance while the stone inscriptions, which are some of the oldest Brahmin inscriptions in the country, had been covered with cement and concrete,” he said.

The Secretary of The Lanka Buddhist Conservation Council of the Asgiri Chapter Ven. Meddagama Dammananda Thera alleged that the Bhikku, who was in charge of the temple had fled in face of violence and threats from encroachers.

Meanwhile Ven. Medhananda Thera denied claims of the monastery holding Islamic roots while adding that the Archaeology Department was evading its duty by failing to take action on illegal encroachments and constructions within the archaeological conservation.


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