Iriyapola Ruins hidden in the Jungles off Monaragala – මොණරාගල වන තුල සැඟවුණු ඊරියපොළ නටබුන්

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Arial view of Iriapola Ruins hidden in the jungles of Monaragala
Arial view of Iriapola Ruins hidden in the jungles of Monaragala
photo source : Ruins in and Around Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.

Iriyapola ruins are located about 20 km southeast of the village of Maligawila in Monaragala district, in the dense forest on the slightly upstream and left bank of the point where the Gonam ala Ara, a right bank tributary, joins the Kumbukkan Oya. There is a distance of about 450 meters from the rocks where Ruins are located to the nearest point on the riverbank.

It is a Buddhist temple ruin where several traces of structures are distributed on a low rock hill extending from the northeast to the southwest, and on the forest flat adjacent to the south. The size of the rock is 150m long and about 20–30m wide. On the rock hill, the ruins of a stupa with a square two-stage platform, the ruins of Chapter House (Uposathaghara) with stone pillars, and the kema on the bedrock functioning as a reservoir are clearly left, and the bathing pond remains in the jungle on the southeast side of the rock hill. The highest point on the northeast side is about 20m above the surface of the southern jungle, and the ruins of the stupa are located at the top. At the middle of the rock slope on the southwest side is kema, and at the end of the flat naked rock that descends to the southwest is the ruins of Chapter House, which is about 90 meters away from the ruins of the stupa and has stone pillars.

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On the bedrock near Chapter House, there are two places of shallow sculpture that seems to be a monk’s bed or foot wash pool, and in the jungle on the south side of the rock hill, several stone rows are extending as if demarcating the temple area. The trace of the bathing pond in the jungle are located about 70m away from the stupa on the extension line of the stairs carved on the northeastern slope under the stupa. Comprehensively, it is assumed that the temple area including the rock hill area and the southern ground in the jungle was about 100m square.

The bottom platform of the stupa is built to even out the irregularities of the rock surface and to enlarge the surface for the stupa. It consists of four retaining walls made by stacking stone walls from the bedrock slope to widen the narrow top, and the southeastern and southwestern sides have collapsed and are mixed with earth and sand. however the northeastern and northwestern sides have 1 to 3 steps of stone walls including the corners, indicating that it was a square platform with a side of 21 m. Due to the irregularities of the rock, the height if the platform varies from 40cm to 120cm at different places. The upper platform is also badly collapsed, however it can be measured to be a square platform measuring 15m per side. Based on the remains of the retaining walls, this platform has been about 3 meters in height. The stupa has completely collapsed in to a mound of rubble. From the size of the top platform, the stupa would have been about 10-12 meters in diameter. The stupas has been dug at the center by treasure hunters.

On the steep slope rock on the southeast side of this pagoda, a staircase is carved from the bottom of the platform to the jungle ground at the foot of the pagoda. The carved steps are 115 cm long, 34 to 41 cm in wide, and 5 to 8 cm in height. It is probable that the stairs were connected to the sidewalk to the bath at the bottom of the rock.

On the southwest side where the bedrock slope is gentle, there are stone rows that look like stairs between the stone rows of the upper and lower bases, although it is unclear due to the collapse of earth and sand, and other ruins such as Uposathaghara (E). From the point in that direction, it can be estimated that there would have been a staircase at the entrance (entrance). However, traces of guard stones (guard stones), half-moonstones (moonstones), and handrails (balustrades) attached to the entrance is not found anywhere in the surrounding area.

The Uposathaghara (Chapter House) ruins, along with the stupa ruins, are the remains that have the clearest shape in this archaeological area. It stands about 90m west-southwest of the stupa . It is impossible to measure because the base and outer shell of the building have collapsed and are buried in the sedimentary soil, but due to the swelling of the soil from the surroundings, the entrance can be traced on the northeast side. From the remains of the stone pillars it can be said that the building would have measured around 11m x 8m.

It seems that there were originally 24 stone pillars on the platform, 6 along the long side from northwest to southeast and 4 along the short side from northeast to southwest, for a total of 24 stones. So, 6 of them remain standing (although some are tilted), and 4 remain on the ground or broken from the root. These stone pillars are usually erected by digging to support the beams of the roof of Uposatha, which is a wooden tiled roof, and the height from the current uneven surface varies from 190 cm to 292 cm, but the original The length exceeded 3 m, and the upper end seems to have been aligned to support the beam horizontally. In addition, the stone material of the pillar is also thick.

The remains of the front entrance built on the northeast side of the Uposatha platform (in the direction of the pagoda). But the entrance as well as the building has been dug and severely destroyed by treasure hunters. It is not possible to know the exact width of the stairs or the number of steps of the stone steps. However, since the diameter of the moonstone which has been toppled over is 140 cm, it can be inferred that the width of the stairs was slightly wider than that. In addition, the balustrades of the stairs with the Makara embossed are both half buried in the soil. They are 20 cm thick, the height of the front part of the entrance (Makara’s tongue pattern part) is 86 cm, and the full length is 246 cm. It was confirmed that the moonstone is not an accurate half-moon shape because the depth (radius) of the half-moon shape is 92 cm for a diameter of 140 cm. The guard stones that would normally be attached to the entrance of the building along with the balustrades and moonstones are found in the surrounding area.

Chapter House - Iriapola Ruins hidden in the jungles of Monaragala  <br> photo source : Ruins in and Around Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.
Chapter House – Iriapola Ruins hidden in the jungles of Monaragala
photo source : Ruins in and Around Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.

The pond in the jungle lies about 70m southeast of the stupa, and although no trace of retaining walls can be seen other than the stone steps (H) above, it is a reservoir made by modifying the natural terrain. Although the size cannot be measured accurately, the area of ​​the depression in the pond without trees forms an ellipse of about 10m x 20m, and even during the survey in 2018 in the dry season, shallow water accumulated in the area of ​​the oval of about 3m x 5m.

References

  • Okamura, T., 2021. Ruins in and Around Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. 1st ed. Tokyo: NPO-SARERS – South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society.

Also See

Map of the Iriyapola Ruins in Monaragala

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