According to the folklore Deliwala Kota Vehera was built by a regional king called Keerthi Tissa in the 3rd century BCE. On a request by him, King Devanmpiyatissa (250-210 BC) invited Mihindu Maha Thero and he came to this temple with the relics which were ceremoniously enshrined.
According to Professor Paranavithana, this stupa was built at least in the 1st century BCE. Based on the Brami lettering on the bricks and the size of the bricks, archaeologists believe these bricks belong to the period of King Dutugemunu (161-131 BC). But according to Mahavansa, The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, this was built during the time of King Devanmpiyatissa (250-210 BC).
There is another belief that this was built by King Parakramabahu ( 1153-1186) while he was staying there but left for Polonnaruwa leaving the stupa in an incomplete state.
In 1892, A.C. Bell reported that the stupa’s circumference was 640 feet, and the height was 112 feet and appeared to be filled will earth thinly filled faced with brick. (Bell, 1904). Although treasure hunters have missed this stupa, it has been in a very dilapidated state when it was found. It was also reported that this was built using a thin layer of bricks as the shell and filled with earth inside. According to Prof. Paranavithana, this stupa has been built by shaping a small natural hill and building a brick shell over the hill.
Relics Found Inside the Stupa
During excavations in 1957, a golden casket of about 3 inches in height was discovered near the Pesa Walalu. This was a perfect replica of the Sanchi Stupa in India. A relic chamber was not present in this stupa but in addition to the golden casket, 173 smaller caskets and 2 gemstone caskets have been discovered in the stupa. Today the stupa is 160 m in circumference.
In addition, in the excavations conducted by the Department of Archeology in 2001, seven such Golden caskets were discovered. These gold caskets were placed in a glass casket which was placed in another metal casket, wrapped in a silk cloth mixed with beads and buried in a clay pot. The excavation was carried out by Dr. W. Wijepalaya.
This cloth added new knowledge to world Buddhist history. It confirmed that the current tradition of covering the relic casket with a colourful cloth dates back to the time of Mihindu Thero who brought Buddhism to this country. This cloth is more than two thousand two hundred years old. Carbon 14 dating of this cloth in Australia confirmed that it is 2,200 years old.
Loss of the Golden Casket
The chief prelate of the stupa vehemently opposed taking these valuable relics to a safer Museum every time the Archaeology Department tried to move them away. In 2008 an exhibition related to Sri Lankan Buddhist heritage was held in Japan. The Department of Archeology made arrangements to send this golden casket found in Daliwala Kotaveheren in 1957 to Japan for exhibition. The prelate said that they could take the casket, but he too should be taken to Japan with the casket. Due to this absurdity, the people of the world were not able to see this world Buddhist heritage at the event.
In 2015, a special exhibition was organized for the 125th anniversary of the Department of Archaeology. Arrangements were made to bring this casket for that purpose. The monk said that the casket would not be allowed without him. The Department of Archeology sent a vehicle to Deliwala and brought the monk with the casket. On the first day, the then Prime Minister and the President visited the exhibition. The monk explained about the casket. That night, the archaeology department had to transport the monk who requested special accommodation along with the casket back to Deliwala.
However, in February 2022, this golden casket was stolen from the temple and investigations revealed that the CCTV in the temple had been out of order for months. Due to the absurdity of this monk, this world heritage has been lost to the world forever.
- H. C. P. BELL, 1904. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. Report On The Kegalla District · Of The Province Of Sabaragamuwa. 1st ed. Colombo: George J. A. Skeen.
Map of Deliwala Kota Vehera
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Driving Directions to Deliwala Kota Vehera
The stupa lies about 3 kms away from the Rambukkana Town on the Rambukkana – Bulugolla – Dombemada – Wahawa road.
|Route from Colombo to Deliwala Kota Vehera
|Route from Kandy Road to Deliwala Kota Vehera
|Through : Warakapola – Kegallla – Pinnawela – Rambukkana
distance : 95 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
|Through : Pinnawela – Rambukkana
distance : 14 km
Travel time : 40 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map