Among the Buddhist temples and other religious sites in Northern Sri Lanka, “Kadurugoda” or Kantarodai considered being one of the most important and it is one of the most important Buddhist temples for the whole country. First excavation done in Kadurugoda temple in 90 years earlier shows that this Buddhist temple dates back to the pre-Christian era.
There are many stupas which are considered to be built in order to deposit cremated remains of 60 Arahat at the temple. Remains of a shrine room, several Buddha images, coins, pieces of pinnacles of stupas, pieces of stone with imprints of the Buddha’s foot and tiles also discovered at the site. Ahead and a headless body of Buddha images are also among the other artefacts found.
According to the historical chronicles Buddha had visited 3 times the island and Nagadeepa is the place where Buddha made his second visit to Sri Lanka. The famous sermon he preached to Chulodhara and Mahodhara over their dispute was made at this Kadurugoda area. It is believed that Buddha made his first sermon at Kadurugoda. The exact place where Buddha sat during the sermon is known as Rajyathana Chithya (Stupa) and it is one of the most sacred places for Buddhist in the country.
H.W.Codrington in his book ‘Coins and Currency in Ceylon’ (1924) has mentioned that number of coins found in the vicinity of the Kadurogoda Temple while Mudliyar C. R. Rasanayagam in his book ‘Ancient Jaffna’ (1926) mentions that there were ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple in Kadurugoda.
The earliest name of this site was “Gayangana” and it is a Sinhalese word. The archaeologist believes Buddha visited from Gaya Rata, therefore, this area was called “Gayangana”; Tamil word which derived from the Sinhalese version is “Kayangana”. The archaeological excavation site in Kadurugoda was mostly known among the local people as “Kayangana”. According to the archaeological evidence found at the site, the archaeologists opine that letter used during the pre-Christian Era was similar to the letters found at some of the places in Anuradhapura.
According to the book written on Buddhist places in Asia by Ven. S. Dhammika, a scholarly monk from Australia, elaborates the Kadurugoda Buddhist temple as a sacred temple with below description.
” In the early 20th century there were still numerous Buddhist remains in the Jaffna Peninsular but these now have nearly all disappeared due to neglect, pilfering or deliberate destruction due to political reasons. One place where extensive Buddhist ruins can still be seen is at Kantarodai a little to the north of Jaffna. On the side of a grove of lovely palm trees is a collection of stupa and mounds, the remains of ancient buildings. The archaeological site is consisting of 20 stupas, which are in different sizes. But is the archaeologists opine that number of stupas at the site was much more than what existing today. LA large number of stupas had been destroyed through the vanadalism some other destroyed in the face of natural wrath. The largest stupa is 213 feet in diameter and the smallest stupa is 6 feet in diameter.
Archaeological investigations done at Kantarodai in 1966-7 found that the site was inhabited from about the 2nd century BCE to about the 13th century CE. In 1917 archaeologist P.E Peiris visited the site and discovered several Buddha statues. Mr Peiris has also noted that people in the area were removing the stones of ancient stupas for building purposes.
According to the historical evidence found at Kadurugoda ancient site confirms that firm grip of Sinhalese Buddhist culture among the people lived in the Northern province in the past. It is also suggesting the people lived in Jaffna and surrounding are native Sinhalese from the prehistoric era and not a group of Immigrants.