6 miracle Constructions in Ancient Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. Despite its small size, the island has a very special geographical location. Sri Lanka is considered as one of the places on Earth with the least gravity. In the early days of Sinhalese civilization, the people of Sri Lanka had been able to accomplish many highly advanced and complicated as well as gigantic constructions such as Sigiriya rock fortress, and Jetawanarama Dagoba.

Most of the ancient construction of Sri Lanka is concentrated in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka includes many cultural and historical sites such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy. Many of the ancient constructions of Sri Lanka still remain secret for most people around the world and only a few places have been excavated. Some of these historical places were investigated by popular archaeologists, engineers and scientists. These investigators have come up with various ideas and opinions about these historical constructions. Most of the ancient constructions in the cultural triangle have been turned into ruins over many 1000 years.

At present Sri Lanka is technically and scientifically far behind in comparison to most other countries in the world. But in the past technologically Sri Lanka was very advanced compared to most other countries in the world.

If you are travelling to Sri Lanka and would like to explore some of the awe-inspiring constructions achieved by the ancient people of Sri Lanka, your bet best is a trip to Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. The cultural triangle of Sri Lanka is tucked away about 200km from the city of Colombo and it harbours 1000 ancient Dagobas, temples, palaces, gardens, and many other constructions. In this article, we discuss 6 awe-inspiring constructions in ancient Sri Lanka

No 1. Lovamahapaya

Lovamahapaya was a 9 storied building and its foundations were built using 1600 gigantic granite columns. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who ruled the country from 161 BC to 137 BC. The Entire building was resting on these 1600 granite columns. One side of the building was 400 ft (120 m) in length. According to the historical information it was reconstructed several times due to the destructions caused by invasion and a fire. Even though the original building was 9 stories the later it was reduced a few stories as it was re-constructed. He Lovamahapaya was constructed in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. Visitors to the ancient city can witness the 1600 columns of the building and it is the last remaining part of this imposing construction. It is said the roof of the building was constructed using bronze; hence it was called “Lovahapaya”. It is said the Portuguese destroyed the metal roof in the early 15s.

No 2. Yodha Ela or Giant canal

“Yoda Ela” or Giant Canal also called “Jaya Ganga”, is a canal it is 87 km (54 mi) long. Only one side of the canal has a bank and it carries water from to Tissa Wewa reservoir from the Kala Wewa reservoir in Anuradhapura. This ancient canal is built with a very low gradient and its gradient is about 10 centimetres per kilometre or 6 inches per mile. The modern engineers were surprised to see an ancient canal of this size with such a very low gradient. Yoda Ela was constructed during the reign of King Dhathusena, who ruled the country in 458 AD. It has a gradient of the order of 0.32 m (1.0 ft) drop along 1.61 km (1.00 mi). Even with modern-day survey equipment, it would be difficult to achieve such accuracy. The Kalawewa reservoir is located at a bit lower altitude compared to the Tissa were, however, this ingenious construction has been able to carry water from a lower elevated area to a higher elevated point.

3. Nalanda Gedige

Nalanda Gedige is an ancient Buddhist temple is ancient. The temple is located in Matale in the central province of Sri Lanka. The temple had been built at the geographical centre of the island. The temple shows the characteristics of Hindu architecture and it is a Dravidian-styled building. The temple had been constructed between the 8th and 10th century AD. Despite its Hindu characteristics, this temple had been used as a Buddhist temple. A stone inscription that was written between 9 to 10th centuries AD, discovered at the site revealed that the temple was serving as a Buddhist monastery. The inscription was written in Sinhalese language and it also contains the rules and regulations pertaining to the temple

The ancient temple is built using granite stones and it is consisting of an entrance hall, a short passage to a bare cello, and an ambulatory around the holy centre. A few Hindu god figures had also been found in the temple.

Scientist has discovered that about 5000 years ago when the sea level was much lower than today, the location of Nalanda Gedige was the centre of gravity of Sri Lanka. Scientist has discovered that when a fire is ignited in the temple it spread faster compared to any other place in Sri Lanka. Some people opine that Nalanda Gedige was constructed by King Ravana and he built it to attract universal energy.  

4. Jetawnarama Stupa

The Jetavanarama stupa or better known as Jetavanaramaya Dagoba is part of an ancient Buddhist monastery. The Stupa functioned as a reliquary monument. The Stupa can still be seen in the ancient Jetawanarama monastery complex the UNESCO world heritage city of Anuradhapura. Originally it was 400 ft (122 meters) tall and it was the tallest Buddhist construction in the world. Jetawanarama was built during the reign of King Mahasen (273–301). Jetawanaram stupa was the 3rd tallest structure in the world during that time. Jetawanarama temple complex decayed over many thousands of years after abandonment by Sinhalese kings due to foreign invasions. Today it stands at 71 metres (233 ft).

5. Ancient hospital of Mihintale

The ruins of the ancient hospital of Mihintale can be seen at the foot of Mihintale Mountain. The ancient medicinal bath made of granite can still be seen at the site. These medicinal baths or stone canoes had been used to treat patients and patients were immersed in medicinal oil during the treatment. The Mihintale ancient temple is considered one of the oldest temples in the world and it was an Ayurveda hospital.  The hospital was equipped with separate living quarters for the patients.

6. Parakram Samudra or Parakrama Sea

“Do not let even a drop of rainwater in this country go to the sea without use” is a popular quote on the island it was first spelt by King Parakramabahu, who made the island the granary of South Asia in the 12th century AD. According to historical information, rice was exported to other countries during the reign of King Parakramabahu. King Parakramabahu constructed many lakes and reservoirs to collect rainwater in the dry zone and Parakaram Samudra is one of the biggest reservoirs he built to collect rainwater.

 Parakrama Samudra is located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The reservoir was constructed by King Parakramabahu and he ruled the country from 1153 to 1186. The reservoir is consisting of 5 parts they are thopa wewa, dumbutulu wewa, erabadu wewa, bhu wewa and, kalahagala tanks these 5 separate water reservoirs were connected by narrow channels.

Topa Wewa is located towards the northernmost point of the complex and it was built around 386 AD. In the middle of the complex is the Eramudu Wewa or Eramudu reservoir. Dumbutula Wewa, is located towards the southernmost tip of the complex. The middle section and southernmost part of the complex were constructed under the leadership of King Parakramabahu.