We stood in front of a vast mound of crumbling earth. These were the ruins of the Kota Vehera at Deliwela , believed to have been constructed during the period of king Devanampiyatissa. On the side of the ruins was a somewhat dilapidated shrine room, with colourful and elaborate sculptures.
A frieze of figures; of gods, humans and animal ornamented g the two entrance doorways. We had climbed the narrow flight of steps which led to the site above the present Viharaya. In the viharaya premises was a Paththiruppuwa or an octagonal building where some of the valuable finds from the excavations conducted on the site are exhibited.
Outside near the entrance of that building was a short stone column with clear markings of an inscription
H.C.P Bell was one of the earliest visitors to this shrine in 1890. He had left a brief note about the edifice he saw then describing it as having a circumference of 640 feet and rising to a height of 112 feet. In 1948 after the passage of the antiquities ordinance the site had been declared a protected monument. In 1957, a golden casket measuring about 7 – 8 cms in height and resembling in its architectural features a miniature specimen of the Sanchi Stupa was discovered here.
This find was proof of links with the Sanchi stupa of India. The antiquity of the site has been further proved by the discovery of pre-Christian bricks with masonry marks in Brahmi letters and the find of a coins belonging to the pre- Christian era containing an impression of a seal. In 1972 , more information about the dagoba surfaced during excavations.
The Department of Archaeology conserved the dagoba in 1979 as a structure providing three masonry constructions at the base called pesa walalu. The relic chamber of the dagoba was not located during those excavations. [h]
The dagoba conserved during the period 1972- 79 collapsed in 1998 compelling the Department to undertake further excavations during the latter part of 2000. In these excavations details of the original structure of the dagoba were revealed.
The basement of the dagoba had been on elevated rock covered with slabs and mud with the outer covering done in bricks. During the following excavations from the top to the basement reaching the living rock eight relic chambers had been discovered. Each such chamber contained a miniature reliquary in gold measuring 2-3 cms with a relic of the Buddha and filled with a large number of relics of Arahats deposited outside the golden casket and covered by a stone casket.
The design of the reliquaries proves beyond doubt links with the Sanchi stupa of India of the 3rd Century BC and the religious contacts established by the great missionary Mahinda Thera during the days of king Devanampiyatissa ( 250 – 210 BC).We were informed by the Podi Hamduruwo who opened the doors of the Paththiruppuwa which housed some of the artifacts found during the excavations, that 5 gold reliquary each containing the remains of Dhatun Wahanse’s had been found during the excavations.
These holy relics are exhibited every Wesak Poya for the veneration of the public. The Kota vehera at Deliwela is situated about 4 kms from Rambukkana on the the Rambukkana – Kurunegala road. It is considered to be one of the most ancient Buddhist shrines in Rambukkana.