Posted by: lrrp | August 31, 2012

Buddhist historical sites in Ampara district

Archaeological Department have identified 55 ancient Buddhist shrines and archaeological sites in the Batticaloa and Ampara districts. A description of a few of these sites culled from the records of the Archaeological Department is given below [1]:

Pulukunava This site at the boundary of the Galoya scheme on the Ampara-Mahiyangana road is on a large forested hill. On the southern scrap of the hill are a large number of dripledged caves. In many of these caves are pre-Christian inscriptions. In the flat area south of this hill are the remains of a number of structures. Among these are a dagoba dug into by treasure hunters, some pillared structures and a pond. Buried under the earth is the torso of a Buddhist statue. The structures at the site are girt by a prakara.

Dutch Fort Batticaloa A dagoba chatra stone and an asana stone probably belonging to the early centuries of the Christian era were found inside the Fort. These appear to have belonged to a very early Buddhist structure.

Vakaneri The ancient Sinhalese name for this area is “Vahaneriya”.[9] In the Vakaneri colony near Valashena (Valachchenai) is an ancient site with a pilfered dagaba and the remains of three structures. There are also the remains of a pond and a stone prakara around it.

Samangala This site is about five miles (8 km) to the west of the Kohombana junction on the Ampara — Gonagala road. On the eastern escarpment of Samangala hill are found a large number of dripledged caves bearing pre-Christian Brāhmī inscriptions. On a high boulder close to an ancient cave is incised the representation of a dagoba similar to the stupas at Sanchi.

Kotavehera On the Ampara-Hingurana road there are the remains of a dagoba mounted on a square platform and of a structure with stone pillars.

Dighavapi The department has located 35 archaeological sites in the Dighavapi complex. The archaeological area is a mere 42 square kilometres in extent. The area declared under the Archaeological department is only four hundred yards in radius of each site leaving the other areas unprotected under the Antiquities Ordinance No. 9 of 1940. There are several ancient inscriptions in the area. In 1986 a gold leaf inscription 14 cm in length and 1.5 cm in width had been unearthed. The inscription had been deposited inside a reliquary made of thick gold sheets. The text of the inscription was as follows: “Hail. The stupa (reliquary) of King Mahitisa (Kannittha Tissa) son of King Naka”. King Kannittha Tissa reigned from 164 — 192 AD.

Magul Maha Viharaya This has been known as the Ruhunu Maha Vihara in ancient times. It was built by King Dhatusena (453-474 A.D.). The structures here had been reconstructed by Vihara Maha Devi wife of Bhuwenakabahu IV of Gampola and Parakramabahu V of Dedigama in the 14th century. Two inscriptions of this queen are at the site. In an area girt by a prakara of stone slabs are a Bodhigara, an image house, a dagaba, and a sabbath house.

Moodu Maha Viharaya (Potuvila) This site is on the seashore, near Potuvila (Pottuvil). Much of the remains at the site appear to be covered by sea sand. At an elevated site is a ruined dagaba. West of the dagoba are the remains of a pillared structure. There is a torso of a standing Buddha statue. To the south is an image house and a pond. East of the dagoba are seen stumps of pillars and brick walls. It is believed that buried under a thick layer of sand are other remains of ancient structures.

Ratraveli Viharaya The remains of a very ancient dagoba of large dimensions has been found near the 73rd milepost on the Pottuvil-Panama road. At this site are dripledged caves, remains of ancient structures and Buddha statues of stone. The ancient name of the site was Bahogiri Nama Pavata according to an inscription of Mahadathika-Mahanaga (A.D. 7-19). The Archaeological Department says that there is no doubt that the site is the Maninaga Pabbata Vihara of the Mahawamsa.

Kudumbigala Situated on the road from Panama to the Ruhunu National Park, there are a large number of dripledged caves here some of which bear inscriptions.

Ancient Buddhist There are traces of paintings which go back to ancient times. On Kudumbigala, the largest rock at the site, are the remains of two small dagobas.

Nilagiri Dagoba, Lahugala This dagoba is a very old one. To the south east of the Nilagiri hill there are several caves with pre-Christian inscriptions. It is said that the Pasanadipika Vihara constructed by Mahadathika Mahanaga (9-21 A.D.) may be this.

Mullikulam Malai This site, originally known as Batu-vav Kanda, has now acquired the Tamilzed allonym “Mullikulam Malai”.[9] There are two short rock inscriptions of the first century B.C. beside a flight of steps cut on the hill of Mallikulam Malai. Below the drip ledge of a cave is a cave inscription of the 1st century B.C.

Malayadi Kanda On this hill, called Malayan Kanda in sinhala, are many dripledged caves. About fifteen of them have inscriptions and in one cave there are many paintings.

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