Eragama (Irakkamam in tamil) is a town in the Ampara District with over a 90% Muslims population. With number of ancient Buddhist monastic sites discovered in this region, this area has become a hot bed for Muslim extremists. Tensions have arisen whenever these site are being developed. Unfortunately these communities have no pride in the country and its heritage and the unchecked archaeological sites are slowly being destroyed erasing the traces of any archaeological values.
Traveling pass the turn off to the ancient Deegavapi Stupa on the Samanthure – Deegavapi road you will come across the ancient Eragama Reservoir. 1.5 km passing the reservoir lies on ruins of an ancient dagoba on a picturesque rock on right side the road.
The site is rich in archeological evidence, with many archeological evidence, such as ancient rock formations, clay pits, tiles and gullies scattered throughout the site are prone to destruction. Several out warn letters in inscription on the site of the rock have been found, But No academic exploration has been done and no site inspection has been done (Management of the Archeological Heritage of Sri Lanka 2019).
Steps hewn on the living rock and many other ruins on this rock has been declared as a protected archaeological site by the Government with the Gazette issued on 10th October 2014, and describes the location as follows;
“Manikkamadu Dagoba mound and rock boulders with stairways situated in No. 5-2-34-005-07 Irakkamam Grama Niladhari Division in Eragama (Irakkamam) Divisional Secretary’s Division in Ampara District in Eastern Province. (latitude 7º 15′ 36” N and longitude 081º 43′ 16” E).”
This stupa is now believed to be one of the Parivara Stupa of Deegavapi Maha Seya. One such parivara stupa of the Deegavapi was bulldozed by Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader late M.H.M. Ashraff while building a road through the Deegavapi temple land in late 1990s. A new temple has been built where another Parivara Stupa has been. Others have been lost even before discovery.
It is said that the king Saddhatissa (137-119 BC) had stored the valuable jewels which was brought to be deposited in the Deegavapi Stupa in the Manikkamadu Temple which later derived its name from Manik – Maduwa.
Until around 1980, a small temple has been at the bottom of the rock known as the Manikkamadu Kanda. With the LTTE Tamil Terrorists invading and killing Sinhalese civilians in the area, the temple and about 100 Sinhalese Buddhists in the area had been forced to leave their land. The chief priest, Thangalle Pangnasena Thero had then passed away from an accident and the main beneficiary Rev. Hegoda Indrasara Thero too was brutally hacked to death by the Tamil Tiger Terrorist group LTTE during the Aranthalawa Massacre.
But this temple had been deserted wi until the priest But when the Residence House for a priest was commenced this year on a land offered by the government, severe opposition from Muslims forced to halt this construction and currently this matter has been taken to the courts.
More ruins with drip-ledge caves on a rock on the opposite side of the road too has been declared as a protected archaeological site by the same gazette and describes the location as follows;
“Manikkamadu Kanda with drip ledged caves with Brahmi inscriptions belonging to Manikkamadu village (hill on the north from Eragama Lake) situated in No. 5-2-34-005-07 Irakkamam Grama Niladhari Division in Eragama (Irakkamam) Divisional Secretary’s Division in Ampara District in Eastern Province. (latitude 7º 15′ 17” N and longitude 081º 43′ 18” E).”
Despite the opposition by politically motivated non Buddhists, a small temple has been built where the old temple (before the LTTE terrorists brutal attacks on the clergy) was located. It is very unlikely that you would get any assistance traveling to the site from the predominately non Buddhist villagers who would rather prefer to see such sites disappear.
- National Audit Office (Performance Audit Division) (2019) Management of the Archeological Heritage of Sri Lanka.
- Tense situ over historic temple reconstruction
- Dighavapi : digging deeper – Controversy looms large but people of the area face more pressing problems than the land issue
Map of Manikkamadu Dagoba Archaeological Site
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 Manikkamadu Dagoba Archaeological Site
|Route from Ampara to Manikkamadu Dagoba Archaeological Site|
|Through : Eragama|
Distance : 8,5 km
Travel time : 20 mins
Time to spend : 30-60 mins
Driving directions : see on google map