The Lost Inscription of Palumakichchawa

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එඩ්වර්ඩ් මුලර් මහතා විසින් 1883 දී සකස් කළ පාළු මැකිච්චාව සෙල්ලිපියේ පිටපතක්. <br> A copy made in 1883 by Mr Edward Mullar of the Palumakichchawa Inscription
එඩ්වර්ඩ් මුලර් මහතා විසින් 1883 දී සකස් කළ පාළු මැකිච්චාව සෙල්ලිපියේ පිටපතක්.
A copy made in 1883 by Mr Edward Mullar of the Palumakichchawa Inscription

Traveling 30 km from Anuradhapura on the Mihinthalawa road or 12.5 km from Mihinthalawa towards Trincomalee and turning right on the Makichchawa junction and traveling about 100 meters and then then taking the gravel road to the right will bring you to the ancient Palumakichchawa (Makichchawa) reservoir. The inscription is found on a rock bed which acts as the spill for the reservoir.

The fist to document this inscription is the Doctor Edward Muller in 1883 in his publication Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon.

Galwana, a stone in the bed of the spill water stream of Mekiccaewa, about 120 yards from the high road at the 16th mile of the Anuradhapura-Trincomalee road. The inscription is tolerably well preserved, but the names of the two tanks contain clerical errors, so that they cannot be identified.

Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon (1883)

A more detailed description of the same is again found on the volume one of the EPIGRAPHIA ZEYLANICA published in 1912.

The inscription is 8 feet long and 3 feet wide with 6 lines across it. Here all the letters are clear except the letters 5,6 and 7 in the first line. The letters vary in height from 4 to 7 inches and from 2 to 5 inches in width. This article was written in Dakshina Brahmi script of the late 2nd century.

PALU MAKICCAVA is the present name of an abandoned tank in the jungle, about 120 yards off the high road to Trincomalee, at a distance of sixteen miles from Anuradhapura. The inscription is on a rock at the ‘vana‘ or ‘spill-water’ of this tank. Dr. Muller gives an account of it, with a transcript, an English translation, and a lithographic plate in his Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon ; but Mr. Bell’s exami­nation of it resulted in the publication of a revised text and translation in his Seventh Progress Report for 1891. The present article is based on a good estampage and an eye-copy, with which he has since supplied me.

It will be seen from the accompanying facsimile (Plate 27) that, as Mr. Bell has already said, the inscription is in a well-preserved state. It is engraved in six lines, covering an area of 3½ by 8 feet of the surface of the rock. The letters, with the exception of the fifth, sixth, and seventh in the first line, are quite clear. Their size varies from 4 to 7 in. in height, and 2½ to 5 in. in breadth. They belong to the Southern Brahmi alphabet of the latter part of the second century A.D., exhibiting, as they do, nearly all the graphic peculiarities of the script of the Nasik, Kuda, and Junnar inscriptions of about the same period. ………………..


The transcript of the inscription is given as below;

1. Maharaja(ha Vaha)bayaha
2. manumaraka Tisa-maharajaha puti
3. mahara ji Gamini-Abeya Upala-viba­
4. -jakahi Vadamanaka”vavi paca-saha(si) kahavana
5. dariya kanavaya Tubaraba buka-saga­
6. -hataya catiri paceni pari “

The great king Gamini Abaya, son of the great king Tisa [and] grandson of the great king Vahaba, having borne (the expense of] five thousand kahvanas, and having caused the Vadamanaka Tank in the Upala division to be dug, [granted the same] to the community of monks at Tubarabs, [and thereby secured for them the enjoyment] of the four priestly requisites.


King Abhaya in this inscription is the king Gajabahu Gamini Abhaya (112-134 AD) more popularly known as Gajabahu I or Gajaba I. His father Tissa is king Vankanasika Tissa (109-112) and grandfather Wasabha is king Wasabha (65-109 AD). King Gajabahu has build this ,Wadamanaka‘ Reservoir in the area knowns as ‘Upala‘ with a cost of 5000 Kahavanu and donated the proceedings of crop grown using the water from the reservoir to the priests of Thuparamaya.

This insciption is important to the to us for few reasons. First is this is the oldest inscription found which mentions the first stupa (Thuparamaya) built in this country. Second, this inscription mentions and confirms relationship of 3 kings in the ancient Royal Dynasty of Sri Lanka.

The reign of King Vankanasika Tissa is only 3 years. It is reported that during this period the Soli of South India became powerful and invaded the country and took 12,000 Sinhalese prisoners to the Soli country. King Gajabahu, who then came to the throne, invaded the Soli country, freed 12,000 Sinhalese prisoners who had been taken to Soli land during his father’s reign and returned to Ceylon with 12,000 Tamil prisoners as compensation as described in the Rajawaliya. Therefore, it was King Gajabahu who re-established the weakened rule of the country. The inscription made by this king further adds to its value.

In 2017, ven Mada Mahanuwara Dhammasiri who was writing a book on Thuparama visited Palumakichchawa to visit the inscription, it was found that the Department of Irrigation has erected a concrete ledge over this valuable inscription which is more than 1800 years old. It is a pity that Sri Lankans have failed to recognize the value of this inscription that Europeans recognized over a 100 years ago.

It was found that decades ago, a concrete ledge has been built across the rock bed to raise the spill water level of the of the Makichchawa Reservoir. Today, 5 out of the 6 lines in this inscription lies underneath this concrete ledge.


Also See

Map of Inscription of Palumakichchawa

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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 Inscription of Palumakichchawa

From Anuradhapura to Inscription of Palumakichchawa
Though : Mihintale
Distance : 24 km
Travel time : 30 mins
Time to Spend : about 15-30  minutes
Driving directions : see on Google Map


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