Forgotten Ruins of Nelugala in Batticaloa District – (මඩකලපු දිස්ත්රික්කයේ නෙළුගල නටබුන්)
The archaeologically unique, Nelugala Buddhist ruins are spread over an area of more than three hundred fifty acres in Perillaveli Grama Niladhari Division of Eraurpattu in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province. The site consist with Rock Caves, Inscriptions, Ponds, Monuments and some other ruins with Stupa dating back to the 2nd and 3rd century BC. This site as well as many other archeological sites in this uninhabited area are constantly attacked by treasure hunters and timber cutting.
Perillaveli means unnamed open field in tamil. To reach Nelugala, travel from Senkaladi in Batticaloa to Kirana (16 miles) turn left at Kirana and travel another 18 miles on the Kirana – Wadumuna road from Kirana (Kiran) Junction.-0-
A stream starting from Nelugala known as Nelugala Ela joins another that flows towards Koddiar Villu. Ambavinna Eka flows south of Nelugala. The ruins of the aramic complex at Nelugala are spread over two rocky hills in the area. There ruins of more than a dozen stupas spread over this area. All the stupa structures have been plundered by treasure hunters. The largest stupa measures about 60 feet in height. The bricks measure 15 x 9 x 3 inches. A very thin plaster is seen between the bricks. Rock flower alters, Siripathul Gal (foot print of Buddha), bricks and other stone work are found scattered all around by the treasure hunters and vandals.
There is an 18 x 9 foot inscription with 18 lines close to the ruins. According to it A minster named Ahala the son of Asagira had established this in the reign of King Kanittha Tissa (164-192 AD) in the 2nd century. According to Ellawala Medhananada Thera, if this Asagira is the same as Isigira in the Vallipuram inscription found from Jaffna, a very important piece of information comes to light. While the father ruled Jaffna, the son has ruled the east.
From the words ‘Piyagalika Ahalipawatha Vihere’ in the inscription it can be deduced that this is the Piyangalla Vihara (Piyangalu Viharaya) mentioned in the Mahavamsa. The Piyangalla Viharaya is also mentioned in the ‘Wansatthapani’ in the Mahavamsa commentary. Thupavamsa states hat a Thera from Piyangalla Vihara (Piyangalu Viharaya) had come to assist in the work of building the the relic chamber of Ruwanweliseya.
According to the inscription, there has been a Bodhigahara and Uposthaghara attached to this temple. The donor has donated reservoirs, fields and canals to the upkeep of the institution. The reservoirs mentioned in the inscription are Vadamanaka Vapi, Boti-Aganaka Vapi and Naka-Abayaha Vapi.
Remains of six Pathaha (rock ponds) and more than fifteen caves with drip ledges are recorded by the Ellawala Medhananada Thera. Remain of stone and brick walls are found in most the caves.
Two building remains needs special mention. Squire holes carved in to stone foundations proves that these buildings had roofs held on wooden pillars. One building had 21 such pillars and and the other 28 pillars.
After centuries of abundenment, the most Venerable Dimbulagala Nayaka Thera strove to bring this archaeological wonder back to life in 1971. Unfortunately some buildings were set on fire by non-sinhalese extremists.
On August 28, 1972, the Deputy Chairman of the Polonnaruwa Minor Urban Council, Sirisena Herath, had written a letter to the Prime Minister, Sirima Bandaranaike, stating that a group had come to the Pirith ceremony, some have stolen a Buddha statue from the room where the Sangha was staying and planted Hindu Tridents on the dilapidated old stupas.
On October 27, 1972, the Batticaloa Government Agent informed the Commissioner of Archeology that Hindu symbols had been placed in one of the caves. Around 1980, a kovil has been constructed on the rock surface.
The GPS location is marked on the Google map based on the UN report on the reference section below.
- Ellāvala Medhānanda, 2005. The Sinhala Buddhist heritage in the East and the North of Shri [i.e. Sri] Lanka. Colombo: Dayawansa Jayakody & Co.
- බන්ධුල ගුණරත්න, 2021. මඩකළපුවෙන් මැකී ගිය බොදු පුදබිම්. [online] www.dinamina.lk. Available at: <http://www.dinamina.lk/2021/03/04/විශේෂාංග/117130/මඩකළපුවෙන්-මැකී-ගිය-බොදු-පුදබිම්> [Accessed 13 March 2022].
- army.lk. 2022. Security Forces Headquaters East. [online] Available at: <https://alt.army.lk/sfhqeast/content/eastern-province-governor-and-commander-security-force-east-pays-inspection-visit-nelugala> [Accessed 13 March 2022].
- 2007. United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names Asia South East Pacific South West Division Regional Gazetteer. Grouped by Country – Part 2. [online] United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names. Available at: <https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegn/docs/9th-uncsgn-docs/bill-watt-cd-docs/reg-gazetteer-grouped.pdf> [Accessed 13 March 2022].
Map of Hibitilandegala Ruins in Kotiyagala
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 Hibitilandegala Ruins in Kotiyagala
|Route from Kodayanna Junction to Dimbulagala Kanda Ruins in Kotiyagala|
Distance : 24 km
Travel time : 45 mins
Time to spent : about 1 hour
Driving directions : see on google map