Ambagamuwa Inscriptions (අඹගමුව සෙල් ලිපි)

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Ambagamuwa inscriptions (epigraphs) are considered as one of the main sources of information in the Polonnaruwa Era.

According to chronicles the king rested here en route to Sri Pada with his entourage while on pilgrimage.  The inscription has been made on the 36th year of King Vijayabahu I (1070-1110). These are engraved on 2 rocks which are 12 feet 3 inches x 9 feet 3 inches and the other 9 feet 4 inches x 9 feet 7 inches in size.

These inscriptions describe the defeat of the Tamil invading forces by King Vijayabahu I and bringing the country under one rule, they also describe the work done by the king to the people and donations made to the Sri Pada pilgrims and the Sri Pada.

This inscription is located about 400 meters from the Nawalapitiya – Ginigathhena Road (B319) at a village called Sellipigama in Ambagamuwa town.

Unfortunately, there is no archaeology department board at the turn-off to Sellipigama on the Nawalapitiya road. Either it’s broken down or never installed. The only indication is a cemented notice board on the ground at the top of the tiny road. This notice lies on the left of the road so that it is visible only if you travel from Nawapitiya.

This is a small tarred road with most of the tar washed away. Travel about 400 meters along this road. This road will split into 3 small roads at about 200 meters and you need to take the leftmost road.

The inscriptions lie on a small triangular piece of land fenced by the archaeological department. A small gate provides access to the rocks with inscriptions. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be maintained properly with overgrown weeds surrounding the rocks. There is an open crack on one stone inscription which villagers say may be caused by the spreading roots of a breadfruit tree nearby.

Historical Details of Ambegamuwa Inscriptions

Dr. Davy, in his description of a tour in 1819, speaks of these inscriptions in detail. According to him, there are about 10 hills in the Ambegamuwa area, where one is called “Akuru-Ketu-Gala-Kanda”, the Mountain with a Rock Inscription which stands east of the “Hasthi Gala”, the Elephant Rock. According to the inscription, it was made on the seventh day of the waxing moon in the month of Madin (February-March) in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Vijaya Bahu I (1070-1110) therefore King Vijaya Bahu I would have been very old and probably in the last stage of his life when this inscription was made.

The contents of the inscriptions record

  1. of Vijaya-Bahu’s parentage dealt with above
  2. of his intrinsic qualities both as a warlord and as a benevolent ruler
  3. of his victory over the Tamil forces that dominated the northern half of the Island
  4. of the offerings made to the sacred foot-print 4 on Adam’s Peak
  5. of the many improvements effected at the shrine and
  6. of the charitable institutions and endowments made for the convenience of pilgrims.

These are followed by the usual statement of ‘sanctions’ in respect of the villages dedicated to the shrine and the names of ministers who carried out the order of the King in Council.

The inscription reads;

(Lines 1-6]. His Majesty, King Siri Sangabo Vijaya-Bahu, was born unto the great King Abba Salamevan, the Kshatriya Lord descended from the Royal line of the Okkaka dynasty, [a branch] of the Solar race, which, abounding in a multitude of benignant, boundless, and transcendental virtues, has caused other Kshatriya dynasties of the whole of Jambudvipa (India) to render it homage. [He was born] in the womb of Queen (Dev Gon) of equal birth and descent.

[Lines 6-10] After enjoying the dignities of the Governor and Chief Governor, he, in due course, became King and was anointed on his head, resplendent with the bejeweled crown, with the unction of world supremacy. He is (thus] like unto a tilaka mark (of adornment) to the lineage of great lords of the soil of Lanka, anointing the heads of other Kings with the effulgence of the nails of his feet.

[Lines 10-15] He has surpassed the Sun in the majesty inherent in him, Mahesvara (Siva) in prowess, Visnu in haughty spirit, the Chief of the Gods (Indra) in kingly state, the Lord of riches (Kuvera) in inexhaustible wealth, Kitisuru in (bestowing) happiness to living beings, the Preceptor of the Gods (Brhaspati) in the fertility of his wisdom, the Moon in gentleness, Kandarpa in the richness of his beauty and the Bodhisatta in the fullness of his benevolence. Glittering in the resplendence of his crown and royal apparel and mounting the massive scale pan, he fills the ocean of hearts of all poor folk that have migrated from various countries with the waters poured out without measure in [the shape of] gems of various sorts, as if his person itself were the wish-conferring tree.

[Lines 15-21] (His Majesty) who has [thereby acquired] an unbroken fame which was spread by the people of the whole world illumines the Island of Lanka with his glory. With the prowess of governors of districts displayed at the gate of the palace which is constantly filled with the wonderful presents that are being offered by kings of various lands, His Majesty brought fame upon prosperous Lanka. Veneration for the Triple Gem, hospitable attention to preceptors, homage to the righteous, prosperous conditions to the learned, assistance to kinsmen, intimacy to friends, haughtiness towards foes, compassion for all living beings, wisdom in council- (all these qualities) he made completely secure for himself.

[Lines 22-27] With his own valour he drove away wholly the darkness of Tamil forces and brought the whole Island of Lanka under one canopy (of dominion). He passed thirty-seven years in the enjoyment of his kingdom and in the thirty-eighth year of his raising the canopy (of dominion), in the first half of the lunar month Mandindina (February-March), on the seventh day of the waxing moon, (His Majesty) made offerings of various adornments studded with beautiful gems of seven kinds to the Sacred Footprint impressed on the summit of Samanala rock (Adam’s Peak) which sustained the Sacred lotus-like feet of the four Buddhas that attained Buddhahood in the present cycle, namely, Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, and Gotama. He raised also various canopies, flags and banners made of silk cloth (over the footprint) and, anointing it with the four kinds of unguents, he decked it with his own bejeweled crown.

[Lines 28-38] Thereafter, he instituted the maintenance of repairs, offerings, paintings, lighting of lamps on Samanola rock (Adam’s Peak) which bears the sacred footprint (of the Buddha) ; and for providing the great community of Buddhist monks who arrive from the four quarters to worship the (foot-)relic here, with suitable food and other necessary things, and also for keeping up the alms given to those other travel-worn pilgrims who come together to worship the relic, he had almonries (dana-sala) established in his name, one at each of the last five gows of Raja-rata road and endowed them with means for almsgiving. He had a terrace c.onstructed below the terrace where the sacred footprint is, and [thus gave facility] for low caste people to worship the relic of the Sage. He had the first terrace enclosed by a great wall with two gateways at the two roads [leading in and out], which are fitted with locks and keys. [Thus] did he give those worthy of his protection facility to worship the relic of the Sage. He had a net also put over the sacred footprint, and in the neighbourhood all round it he caused the formation of paddy fields.

[Lines 38-50] He moreover made [ a partition of] Vilba and dedicated (to the sacred footprint) all the [following] properties (situated} therein, namely, one garden of areca-nut trees in Kelagamuva, one kotavali in Tiniyagal, one kotavali in Soragoda, one kotavali in Liyavala, one kotavali in the forest of Baduulla, the areca-nuts of the kotavalla at the Udu-ho (upper stream), as well as Makulumula, Ambagamuva, Valigampola and Ulapana in Kalangavela. In all these places he set up kusalan and bo-pa and made the order that into none of these there shall enter (tudinala) employes of the Royal family, or deruvana-de-kamtan; that wayfarers, tramps, coolies, and melasi shall not take away the offerings made (from time to time); that cart-oxen, milch cows, and hauling labourers shall not be taken away; that, should persons after committing a crime that comes within the [purview of] the ‘ five great crimes’ enter (these) villages [for refuge], they can be delivered over [to the authorities] only after they have been made to get outside the boundary line of the [respective] village, but no arrest can be made by entering the village. [ And this decree is in force] from the thirty-eighth (regnal) year for future years.

[Lines 50-58] Hakka-gam Kitu, Kolomba-galu Dovu and Mahakilimgam Kitli-detu (all) of the family of Mekappara-vadarum Kalunnaru-bim Ayannatavan, as well as Kudasala Kitu of the family of Ramukkadu Abharakkamanan an-by all these lords who have come from the King’s Council after taking leave of him by prostrating at his feet, this Council Warrant of immunity (inscribed) on the pillar is granted . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . . the superintendent of repairs .. .. .. .. . . . . . . .. . . . . .. .. . .. . .. was caused to be done.


  • Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z. (1928) Epigraphia Zeylanica Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol II (IV vols). London: Published for the Government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford.

Also See

Map of Ambagamuwa Inscriptions

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Driving Directions to Ambagamuwa Inscriptions

Route from Colombo to Ambagamuwa inscriptions Route from Kandy to Ambagamuwa inscriptions
Though : Kaduwela – Avissawella – Karawanella – Ginigathena
Distance : 109 km
Travel time : 2.5-3 hoursDriving directions : see on google map
Though : Gampola – Nawalapitiya
Distance : 43 km
Travel time : 1 – 1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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