Verappitti Ruins in the Island of Karaitivu Jaffna – යාපනය කරතිවූ දුපතේ වෙහෙරපිටිට් පිහිටි නටබුන් භූමිය

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Map of Karainagar Island in Jaffna and archaeologically important places from 'Early settlements in Jaffna : An Archaeological Survey'
Map of Karainagar Island in Jaffna and archaeologically important places from ‘Early settlements in Jaffna : An Archaeological Survey’

Karaitivu is a fairly large island off the coast of Jaffna peninsula in Northern Sri Lanka. Karaitivu is connected to the peninsula through a 3 kilometer long causeway across the shallow waters. This main town in Karaitivu is Karainagar therefore sometimes this island is also called the Karainagar Island.

The island of Karaitivu is rooted deep in the Buddhist history. It has been called Karadeepa in the ancient times. This island is mentioned in the Akeerthi Jataka (Akitti Jataka) of the 550 Jataka Stories of Buddha where a ascetic named Akeerthi who wanted be alone, left to a park in Kavirapattana and came to the county of Soli, where dwelling in a park over against Kavirapattana, he cultivated a mystic ecstasy and supernatural faculties. He then travelled through the air descended at the isle of Kara, which is over against the island of Naga. At that time, Karadipa was named Ahidipa, the Isle of Snakes.

Dr. Ponnampalam Ragupathy in his PhD thesis and its publication as “Early settlements in Jaffna : An Archaeological Survey” in 1987 records an archaeologically important site in Verappitti, which lies on the western coast of Karainagar. This area is also known as Curiyanpitti or Elumiccankanraty.

Dr Ragupathi records that this site as a mound of considerable size facing the sea in an area of about 5 acres. He records chiselled corel stones still having traces of lime plaster on them, semi-circular stepping stones (possibly an Moonstone) made out of Jaffna limestone, stones with sockets which was used as pillar bases and tiles scattered in the vicinity confirming the type of structure of the remains of this site. The site is sandwiched between the sea from the west and paddy fields from the east. It was so close to the sea, western side of the mound was merging with the shoreline of the island. The sea form a small bay here where its been used by local fishermen to anchor catamarans and small fishing boats.

Few years ago this mound has been dug across to make a path for the sand scoopers to reach the sand dunes which was a thriving business at that time due to the boom in constructions in Jaffna. A part of chiselled coral stone base-line was then noticed when this path was opened.

The report has not given any dimensions of the mound but considering the above description, it could be assumed that this would have been very large stupa of the ancient times forgotten and lost in time. Unfortunately statterlite images shows that this area is now heavy populated and possibly most of the artifacts destroyed.

Dr Ragupathi also reports a possible megalithic burial ground Cattirantai in the Kalapoomy area of Karaitivu island. The site is adjoining the Sundaramurti Vidyalayam Junior School of Karainagar. This site covers an area around 5-10 acres. it is an elevated land on the fringe of the paddy fields. It was reported that this whole site was once owned by American Missionaries and was registered under one Tompu (land deed). Now it has been divided into 5 plots; one is occupied by the Junior School, and the others are private lands. The plot, where the excavations were done belongs to Mr. A. Kandasamy. He bought this plot 15 years ago, and was astonished to find skeletons while constructing his house.

A subsequent excavations have been carried out at this site and 2 pits, 1st one in January 1981 and the 2nd pit in October 1981 were dug and content analysed. The pits have exposed skeletons with pots and burial offerings. The burial offerings were found to be identical with those found in the Anaikkottai burials, but the Kärainagar offerings were comparatively less in quantity. The burial offerings were found placed around the skeleton in dishes, bowls and pots. The traceable remains of the offerings were fish vertebrae bones, fragile animal bones, Crab shells, cattle tooth, paste beads and cat fish jaw bones. A microlithic flake of quartz were also obtained along with the offerings.

The locations of the above mentioned archaeological import sites on the Karaitivu island is given as follows;

Verappitti9°44’00″N 79°51’30″E
Kalapoomy9°43’30″N 79°52’30″E

This report is now over 40 years old and during the the Tamil Terrorist war which lasted for over 30 years, whether any remains can be found is doubtful. However the respective authorities should research on such places and preserve any ancient heritage for the future generations.

References

  • Ragupathy, P., 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna : An Archaeological Survey. 1st ed. Madras: Sudarsan Graphics.
  • Jathakakatha.lk. n.d. 466 Akitta Jataka. [online] Available at: <http://jathakakatha.lk/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=319:466-akitta-jataka&catid=51:451-500&Itemid=99> [Accessed 16 May 2021].

Also See

Map of Verappitti Ruins in the Island of Karaitivu Jaffna

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Driving Directions to Verappitti Ruins in the Island of Karaitivu Jaffna

From Colombo to Jaffna (route 1) From Colombo to Jaffna (route 2)
Through : Kurunegala – Dambulla – Anuradhapura – Vavuniya
Distance : 400 km
Time to travel   : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : click here for Google Map
Through : Puttalam – Silawathura – Pooneryn 
Distance : 365 km
Time to travel   : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : click here for Google Map 
Jaffna town to Verappitti Ruins in the Island of Karaitivu
Through : Karainagar
Distance : 22 km
Time to travel  : 45 mins
Driving Directions : click here for Google Map

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