Kalinga Nuwara Ruins (කාලිංග නුවර නටබුන්)

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Kalinga Nuwara is a large island in the Mahaweli River south of Polonnaruwa. The River is divided into seven channels creating a cluster of islands at this location. The largest island in this cluster is called Kalinga Nuwara. This island is over 1½ km in length and ½ km at its widest point. It has a landmass of 3.8 square kilometres. The island considerably narrows down towards the east giving the island the shape of a conch shell.

The first detailed mention of Kalinga Nuwara Island ruins is in the book “Seeing Ceylon” by R.L. Brohier in 1965 although Brohier mentions these ruins in his 1934 report as well. He mentions that the whole island is scattered with clay bricks and broken granite building material and says at one time the whole island would have been packed with buildings of all types. Ruins of plain buildings with plain dragon arches and a foundation of a fairly large elliptical building ( 72 feet x 52 feet) have been mentioned in this book.

According to Mahavamsa (chapter LXXXIX 47-65) King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 AD) (also known as Vathhimi Vijayabahu, Vanni Raja) who liberated major parts of the country from the cruel invader Maga, held his coronation in Polonnaruwa after carrying out major repairs to the city. Thereafter he sent his son Virabahu to Sahassatittha to build thousands of beautiful dwelling places for priests, and a large and lofty building with sixty pillars to carry out a massive Upasampada Karmaya (Buddhist rite of higher ordination, by which a novice becomes a monk or a bhikkhu). Once the buildings were built, the king sent an invitation to all priests stating “Lo! we are about to hold a feast of Ordination. Now, therefore such monks as are well-disposed towards us –be they great elders, middle elders, or juniors–let them, even all of them, endeavour to come to Sahassatittha.” and held the feast for half a month. Considering the proximity to Polonnaruwa, its location and the buildings discovered in the island, Brohier believes Kalinga Nuwara is the “Sahassatittha” mentioned in Mahavamsa as this site ticks all the prerequisites to carry out an Upasampada Karmaya.

According to tradition, Kalinga Nuwara was also a great shipbuilding yard in the past. Since the Mahaweli River is deep and wide enough all year round up to Trincomalee to sail small vessels, and the type of timber found in the jungles around, Brohier states this might be true.

At the height of power of King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186), Chulavamsa describes an unruly price in Burma that provoked traders and finally kidnapped a princess who was sent from Lanka to Cambodia (chapter LXXVI). King Parakramabahu built a large number of vessels and sent an army into Burma to subdue the prince. Brohier believes that this site too may have been a shipbuilding site during this time.

The main island of Kalinga Nuwara is covered in various types of ruins. Brohier writes “you will find many traces of ruined structures and evidence of past civilization in masses of brickbats on the surface~, and stumps of stone pillars, which indicate that practically the entire island was covered by buildings. You will find simple carved stone makara balustrades flanking the entrances to buildings, the foundations of large halls (72 ft. by 51 ft.), seemingly elliptical in shape, circular, low brick-walled enclosures and even the traces of a roadway which runs for about half a mile.”

The ruins at the site is not only weathered and buried, they are destroyed by treasure hunters and seasonally washed away by the floods of the Mahaweli River. for thousands of years. At the centre of the island lies a trace of a stupa now covered in jungle and resembling a mound of earth. Based on the remains, it is about 16 meters in diameter and 10 meters in height. Stone pillars, stone plates, foundation stones, moonstones, and brick pieces found surround the stupa suggesting that this was one of the core parts of the complex.

In addition, from the ruins surrounding the stupa, traces of many buildings are found scattered all over the island. These include moonstones, guard stones and as well as stone balustrades with Makara carvings.

The Island can be reached by crossing the river from Damanewewa. The best time to go is the dry season when the water in the river is low.

References

  • Brohier, R.L., 2000. Seeing Ceylon 4th ed., Colombo 10: Sooriya Publishers.
  • Wijesiṇha, L., 1889. The Mahávaṇsa – Part II. Colombo: G.J.A. Skeen Government Printer
  • Rickmers, C. and Geiger, W., 1973. Culavamsa being the more recent part of the Mahavamsa (part 2). London: The Pali Text Society.
  • Okamura, T., 2012. Ruins of Wasgomuwa National Park – Sri Lanka — 2009/2010 Survey Report —. Tokyo: South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society (SARERS)
  • Brohier, R., 1934. Ancient Irrigation Works of Ceylon (part 1). Colombo: Ceylon Government Press.

Also See

Map of Mystic Ruins of the Kalinga Nuwara Island

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travel Directions to The Mystic Ruins of the Kalinga Nuwara Island

Route from Monaragala to  the mystic ruins of the Kalinga Nuwara island
Distance : 65 km
Travel time : 1.5  hour + hike
Driving directions : see on google map

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