Archaeological Ruins of Welikanda Kavudagala Aranya Senasanaya (වැලිකන්ද කවුඩාගල ආරණ්‍ය පුරාවිද්‍යා භූමිය)

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Welikanda Kavudagala (also known as Kaudagala or Kawudagala) is a rocky area situated near Polonnaruwa in the Welikanda region. This historic Buddhist temple complex has now been transformed into a serene forest hermitage. To access this site, one must travel to Welikanda from Polonnaruwa on the Batticaloa road. From Welikanda, a narrow road spanning 13 kilometers, passing through Maithreegama, leads to the destination. The site lies next to the ancient Kurulubedda Wewa reservoir.

Kavudagala rocky area consists of a large ancient stupa, stone pillars of ancient buildings, steps, guard stones, moonstones which adorned the entrances of these ancient buildings, Sri Pathul Gal, a stone Chatra of the stupa, a natural rock pool, caves with drip ledges and inscriptions on the donation of these caves to the Sangha.

The name “Kavudagala” (alternatively spelled as Kaudagala or Kawudagala) derives its origin from the local term for Drongos, the “Kavuda bird”. Within one of the rock’s caves, visitors can observe a remarkable natural formation where the diverse colors of the granite create a distinct impression resembling a Kavuda bird.

Interestingly, during the period of the British colonial era, this rock was referred to as “Small Quoin” (Nicholas, 1963).

In 1983, Cyril Mathew in an appeal to UNESCO to safeguard the archaeological heritage endangered by the racial prejudice, unlawful occupation or willful destruction, noted that the Kavudagala stupa mound at the top of one of the rocks had been dug up by treasure hunters. The site is abundant with Guard Stones (muragal), stone pillars, and other remnants of ancient monastic buildings. The plain guard stones and a moonstone at the site have been removed to be used as an altar stone of a modern Hindu Kovil. In the process, a guard stone and some stone steps had been broken and damaged. The ancient bricks of the ancient stupa had been used for the construction of a modern house (Mathew, 1983).

During the time LTTE Tamil Terrorists were fighting the Sri Lankan forces, this site was occupied by the LTTE (Medhānanda, 2005).

After centuries of neglect and destruction, around 2018 a Buddhist forest monastery was established at the site at the request of Kurulubedda villagers and the Department of Archaeology started excavation and conservation of the ancient stupa in August 2021. According to the Department of Archaeology, this stupa is believed to be built in the 2nd century BCE. A haul of artifacts had been discovered inside this stupa including four stone caskets, precious beads, stones, earrings, crystal earring fragments, small gold plated earrings, and vases of various sizes.

The Kawudagala rock with Drip ledged caves and other archaeological factors inclusive of rock inscriptions in Mahindagama Village in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 282 of Mahindagama in Welikanda Divisional Secretary’s Division in Polonnaruwa District was declared as a protected an archaeological site on 1st February 2023.

In 2024, a controversial Buddhist monk vowed to build a modern stupa at Kawudagala. This raised mixed emotions among the Buddhist community as some saw this as a violation of an archaeological site while others saw it as a re-establishment of the ancient presence of Buddhism in the area. As per writing up this update, the priest has already announced that the necessary funds have already been raised to build this stupa.

References

  1. Mathew, C., 1983. An Appeal to UNESCO to Safeguard and Preserve the Cultural Property in Sri Lana Endangered by Racial Prejudice, Unlawful Occupation or Wilful destruction, p16.
  2. C. W. Nicholas, 1963. Historical Topography of Ancient and Medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series Volume VI Special Number, p.65
  3. Medhānanda, E. (2005). The Sinhala Buddhist heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. 1st ed. Colombo: Dayawansa Jayakody & Co. , p.33
  4. Wikramanayaka, V. (2023) ‘Monuments to be declared as Ancient Monuments’, The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka EXTRAORDINARY, 2317/57, pp. 4A-5A.

Also See

Map of Archaeological Ruins of Welikanda Kavudagala

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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Archaeological Ruins of Welikanda Kavudagala

The modern town of Polonnaruwa is also known as New Town, and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

Route from Colombo to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Kandy to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Through: Central Highway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo: 230 km
Travel Time: 4.45 hours
Driving Directions: See on Google map
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Route from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Batticaloa to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions: See on Google map
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time : 2 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Route from Polonnaruwa to Archaeological Ruins of Welikanda Kaudagala
Through : Manampitiya – Welikanda
Distance : 46 km
Travel time : 1 hour
Driving directions : see on google map

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