Ruins of Kiribath Vehera of Ancient Anuradhapura

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Kiribath Vehera is situated in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura between the Vijayarama Ruins and the stone bridge over the Malwathu Oya.  The remains of this dilapidated stupa, 30 feet in height and 425 feet in circumference have been partially restored by the archaeology department but rarely visited by the pilgrims.

Dr. Paranavithana believes that this site may have been the Patamka Chethiya which also came to be known as Uttara Megagiri Viharaya built by King Devanampiyatissa.

This site was found lying in the jungles outside the main city of ancient Anuradhapura some work to clear this site was done around 1890. It has been recorded that by 1892, the lowest “Pesava” of the dagaba had been completely exposed. The walls of the quadrangle platform on which the stupa was built were also exposed as well as the steps on the north, east and south. The relic chamber has been completely destroyed probably by the South Indian invaders. A shaft, 14 feet in diameter has been sunk from the centre of the stupa mound to a depth of around 40 feet, to the bottom of the stupa in search of a relic chamber. This survey records that this stupa has been about 420 feet in circumference, or somewhat smaller than Mirisawetiya Dagaba.

The publication ‘Historical Guide to Anuradhapura’s Ruins’ By Hubert E. Weerasooriya published in 1939 provides a graphical view of this site.

‘Leaving Vijayarama behind, another half mile of tramping through the jungle path brings us to a grass covered mound similar in shape to the ruins of Dakkina Dagaba on the Kurunegala Road.

The Archaeological Commissioner’s efforts to excavate this dagaba are disclosed by two or three trenches, one alongside and the one cutting in to the mound from the north. This enabled the general features of the dagaba to be understood, they disclosed that it was one of the oldest of the larger dagabas completely built of brick but unlike others it has no stone works such as flower alters or cornices. Another point it differed from similar structures was that its quadrangular courtyard was laid in brick and not paved in stone.

A shaft thirty six feet deep was sunk through the center of the dagaba by Mr. Bell. That it had been earlier stripped of its relics and other treasures it had contained by Tamil invaders was proved by the gutted relic chamber.

However at the depth of 25 feet, several crystalline stone and a few beads were found. Five feet lower down, a brock built chamber was come across in which was discovered more crystalline stones, small shells and some coral. A few coins were also found at various depths.

This dagaba though called the Kiribath Vehera literally Milk-Rice dagaba, has not been definitely identified with any of the structures mentioned in the histories. It is also called the Menik Vehera or the Gem Dagaba by the local residents. On rainy days even now pieces of coloured stones are found.

No monasteries seem to have been attached to this dagaba, unless they had been made of a very endurable material.  But about 200 yards to the north east of it, a few roughly cut stone pillars standing in bleak solitude. Disclose and image house in utter disrepair. Here it is to be seen a piece of a giant statue of Buddha. The portion above the neck which is in fair condition measures about 2 feet, while the whole piece which is only up to the waist, is about nine feet long. Now it is lying on its side, fallen from grace and badly damaged, a sad change from the lofty exalted position, the statue must have occupied in the time of the Anuradhapura’s glory.’

Ruins of a large stupa, an image house belonging to the Anuradhapura period, and parts of a stone-cut standing Buddha image are found at the site. This statue is 12 feet tall. The stone pillars of the image house are also very tall, to fit in the tall image.

Pillar Inscription of Kiribath Vehera

This site has been dated to the early Anuradhapura period. However, the patron of the site is not known. A pillar inscription known as “Attani Kanu” (Atthani Pillar) was reported by HCP Bell in 1891. The pillar was reported to be in a good state of preservation and about 5 feet tall and 10 inches square.

The inscription is dated to the 14th year of King Siri Sangabo. It was set up by 3 royal officials by royal order. Siri Sangabo is an epithet adopted by many kings however, based on historical evidence, King Siri Sangabo on this pillar has been identified as most probably King Kassapa IV (952-963).

This Attani Kanuwa describes granting the garden called Upper Megiri Vatta to the dispensary called Bamunu Kumbara. The garden was bounded on the east by Vehera-Vatta on the South Mi Tree, on the west cart road and on the north by the Sambada jungle. Royal servants or officials of the royal house. Also, the inscription prohibits any criminal from being arrested within the boundaries of the garden.

(Wickremasinghe, 1912)

References

  1. C. W. Nicholas, 1963. Historical Topography of Ancient and Medieval Ceylon. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series – VI (Special number).
  2. H. E. Weerasooriya, 1939. Historical guide to Anuradhapura’s ruins. 1st ed. Colombo: W.E. Bastian.
  3. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1893. Council Meeting Proceedings (Annual General Meeting). XII(42).
  4. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka.
  5. Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z. (1912) Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol I. London: Henry Frowde (For the Government of Ceylon).

Also See

Map of Kiribath Vehera Ruins

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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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Driving Directions to Anuradhapura (Kiribath Vehera)

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Bus

Anuradhapura is easily reached by bus, train or private transport. Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses start at the Colombo Fort Main Bus Station. There are luxury busses which start from various places in Colomb travelling past Anuradhapura, to Vavuniya and Jaffna. However, you need to search the web and book a seat. These luxury buses mostly travel at night reaching their final destination early in the morning.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Train

5 daily trains are starting from Fort Railway Station to Anuradhapura. Generally, the first train leaves at 9.40 am and the last train at 8.30 pm. Travel time is 4-5 hours depending on the number of stops of the particular train.

Colombo to Anuradhapura By Car or Van

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. There are two main routes to Anuradhapura from Kurunegala. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Route from Anuradhapura Railway Station to Kiribath Vehera Ruins
Distance : 7.2  kilometers
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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