Vijithapura Rajamaha Viharaya (විජිතපුර රජමහා විහාරය)

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In the 2nd century BCE, the great warrior king Dutugemunu (161-131 BC) began his crusade to defeat the Indian Tamil King Elara in Anuradhapura and bring the country under one Sri Lankan king from Tissamaharama. On his way, he destroyed many strongholds of Elara.

The great chronicle Mahavansa describes the victories…

.. Arrived at Mahiyangana he overpowered the Damila Chatta. When he had slain the Damilas in that very place he came then to Ambatitthaka, which had a trench leading from the river, and (conquered) the Damila Titthamba; fighting the crafty and powerful foe for four months he (finally) overcame him by cunning,’ since he placed his mother in his view. When the mighty man marching thence down (the river) had conquered seven mighty Damila princes in one day and had established peace, he gave over the booty to his troops. Therefore is (the place) called Khemäräma.

In Antarasobbha he subdued Mahakotta, in Dona Gavara, in Halakola Issariya, in Nalisobbha Nalika. In Dighabhayagallaka he subdued, in like manner, Dighabhaya; in Kacchatittha, within four months, he subdued Kapisisa. In Kotanagara he subdued Kota, then Halavahanaka, in Vahitta the Damila Vahittha and in Gamani (he subdued) Gamani, in Kumbagama Kumba, in Nandigama Nandika, Khanu in Khanugama but in Tamba and Unnama the two, uncle and nephew, named Tamba and Unnama. Jambu also did he subdue, and each village was named after (its commander.)

And finally he reached the Fortress of Vijithapura, the final and the mightiest of the strongholds of Elara before the Capital City of Anuradhapura. The victory of Vijithapura takes a special place in the Mahavansa.

…………….. All the Damilas on the bank of the river who had escaped death threw themselves for protection into the city named Vijitanagara. In a favourable open country he pitched a camp, and this became known by the name Khandhavarapitthi ……………..

…………….. Near the south gate befell a fearful battle between the warriors. But near the east gate did Velusumana, sitting on his horse, slay Damilas in great numbers. The Damilas shut the gate and the king sent thither his men. Kandula and Nandhimitta and Suranimila, at the south gate, and the three, Mahasona, Gotha and Theraputta, at the three other gates did their (great) deeds. The city had three trenches, was guarded by a high wall, furnished with gates of wrought iron, difficult for enemies to destroy. Placing himself upon his knees and battering stones, mortar and bricks with his tusks did the elephant attack the gate of iron. But the Damilas who stood upon the gate-tower hurled down weapons of every kind, balls of red-hot iron and molten pitch. When the smoking pitch poured on his back Kandula, tormented with pains, betook him to a pool of water and dived there.`Here is no sura-draught for thee, go forth to the destroying of the iron gate, destroy the gate !’ thus said Gothambara to him. Then did the best of elephants again proudly take heart, and trumpeting he reared himself out of the water and stood defiantly on firm land.The elephants’ physician washed the pitch away and put on balm; the king mounted the elephant and, stroking his temples with his hand, he cheered him on with the words: `To thee I give, dear Kandula, the lordship over the whole island of Lanka.’

And when he had had choice fodder given to him, had covered him with a cloth and had put his armour on him and had bound upon his skin a seven times folded buffalo-hide and above it had laid a hide steeped in oil he set him free. Roaring like thunder he came, daring danger, and with his tusks pierced the panels of the gate and: trampled the threshold with his feet; and with uproar the gate crashed to the ground together with the arches of the gate. The crumbling mass from the gate-tower that fell upon the elephant’s back did Nandhimitta dash aside, striking it with his arms. When Kandula saw his deed, in contentment of heart he ceased from the former wrath he had nursed since he (Nandhimitta) had seized him by the tusks.That he might enter the town close behind him Kandula the best of elephants turned (to Nandhimitta) and looked at that warrior. But Nandhimitta. thought: `I will not enter (the town) by the way opened by the elephant’ and with his arm did he break down the wall. Eighteen cubits high and eight usabhas long it crashed together. The (elephant) looked on Süranimila, but he too would not (follow in) the track but dashed forward, leaping the wall into the town. Gona also and Sona pressed forward, each one breaking down a gate. The elephant seized a cart-wheel, Mitta a waggon frame, Gotha a cocos-palm, Nimila his good sword, Mahasona a palmyra-palm, Theraputta his great club,’ and thus, rushing each by himself into the streets, they shattered the Damilas there. When the king in four months had destroyed Vijitanagara he went thence to Girilaka and slew the Damila Giriya. ……………..

This city is of Vijithanagara is today believed to be the Vijithapura off Kala Wewa although some historians believe that the Vijithanagara should lie close to Polonnaruwa. Legend says that King Dutugemunu built a temple embodying a winning post which used to inform the victory and this temple is believed to be the Vijithapura Rajamaha Viharaya. Although there is not much historical evidence, the temple is littered with old ruins which are believed to be belonging to the Anuradhapura Era.

The most interesting out of these is the “Kadu ge Gala” the stone which was believed to be used by King Dutugemunu and his army to shape the swards. This stone certainly shows very heavy use.

Also See

Map of Vijithapura Raja Maha Viharaya

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Driving Direction to Vijithapura Raja Maha Viharaya

Route from Colombo to Vijithapura Raja Maha Viharaya Route from Dambulla to Vijithapura Raja Maha Viharaya
Though : Kurunegala – Galewela
Distance : 171 km
Travel time : 4 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
distance : 32 km
Travel time : 45 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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