Ruins of Pavakkulam Stone Bridge in Vavuniya (වව්නියාව පාවක්කුලම පුරාණ ගල් පාළම නටබුණ්)

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Over two millennia ago, Anuradhapura served as the first true capital of Sri Lanka. During this period, the region boasted an advanced road network, featuring prominent routes connecting Anuradhapura to Trincomalee, Mannar, Jaffna, and the southern kingdoms. These roads accommodated not only pedestrian traffic but also carts transporting goods for trade and commercial activities. The growth of the road infrastructure prompted ancient rulers to construct robust bridges crafted from granite slabs and pillars. The remnants of these bridges can be observed along Malwathu Oya, Hal Pan Ela, Kandara Oya, Yan Oya, Kala Oya, and Deduru Oya.

Outside the more popular stone bridges over Malwathu Oya and Halpan Oya, ruins of a few other bridges have been discovered. There may be many more still undiscovered stone bridges across the unknown ancient routes.

Pavatkulam Wewa reservoir lies 10 kilometres southwest of Vavuniya town. Parker states that this reservoir is a Sinhalese work of very early origin. “The bricks,” he says, ” employed at two of the sluices are of a much older type than those of the Padaviya sluice . . . . and I should not be surprised if the work be eventually proved to he pre-Christian”.

The current Pavatkulama Wewa reservoir is the result of the combination of the ancient Pavatkulama Wewa and the Olukkulama Wewa ((sin. Olu Kulama) in 1958.

Ruins of the Pavatkulama Stone Bridge were first disclosed by Lewis in the late 1800s J.P. Lewis. It was reported in the jungles behind the Olukkulam village near the minor road from Nellukulam. From the sessional papers of 1886, he quotes

“It was 200 or 300 ft. long and was raised upon piers of substantial stone posts. It crossed the stream which flowed from the southern low-level sluice and kalingula. The road which passes over it still goes by the name of the Mawata, “the high road,” although the ends of the bridge are hidden in dense jungle. ‘The people say that this was a main road from Anuradhapura to Jaffna, possibly by way of Upatissa-Nuwara.” (Lewis, 1895)

With the expansion of the farming community in this area, most of the ruins of this ancient bridge have been destroyed. In 2016, it was reported only one standing pillar remains of this bridge. Ruins of about 11 pillars are found on the ground. The bridge has been about 7 feet above ground based on the pillars. The pillars are about 8 inches wide at the sides. The bridge is about 11.5 feet wide and capable of carrying bullock carts across it (Vidanapathirana,2016).

Currently, 2 houses have been built covering part of the land the bridge has been located. This bridge is believed to have been built before the Pavakkumana Wewa was built. After the Pavakkulama Wewa was built, this steam has been used to carry excess water from the reservoir (වාන් ඇළ). Villagers call this stream the Galpandam Ela (ගල්පන්දම් ඇළ). However, after the Pavakkulama Wewa and Olukkulama Wewa were joined by a concrete barrier to build the current Pavakkulama Wewa, the path of water flows was completely changed destroying the ancient steam (Vidanapathirana,2016).

Other Stone Bridges of Sri Lanka

There are many stone bridges discovered in Sri Lanka. These are in various states while some have been conserved to an extent. The most popular is the bridge over the Malwathu Oya.

  1. Alubedda Stone Bridge
  2. Angammedilla National Park Stone Bridge (Polonnaruwa)
  3. Ebawalapitiya Gal Palama (Stone Bridge) over Deduru Oya
  4. Girihandu Seya Stone Bridge (Tiriyaya)
  5. Habagama Stone Bridge
  6. Halpan Ela Stone Bridge (Anuradhapura)
  7. Kayankerni Stone Bridge  (Eastern Province)
  8. Mahakanadarawa Wewa Stone Bridge (Mihintale)
  9. Nirawiya Farm Gal Palama (Thambuttegama)
  10. Palugaswewa Stone Bridge
  11. Pavakkulam Stone Bridge (Vavuniya)
  12. Perimiyankulama Gal Palama over Malwathu Oya (Anuradhapura)
  13. Ritigala Gal Palama (Anuradhapura)
  14. Sukara Nijjara Gal Amuna and Stone Bridge
  15. Thimbiripokuna Palamgala Gal Palama
  16. Thirappane Stone Bridge
  17. Thulawelliya Stone Bridge
  18. Ullukkulama Stone Bridge
  19. Vannadi Palama (Vannadi Stone Bridge) and Amuna
  20. Weliela Mankada Stone Bridge
  21. Yanoya Stone Bridge

Note that the location shown below on the Google Map is approximate based on the provided directions.

References

  • Lewis, J.P. (1895) ‘Archaeology of the Wanni’, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, XIII (1893-1894), pp. 151–178.
  • Vidanapathirana , P. (2016) මාර්ග පුරාණය : (ක්‍රිස්තු පූර්ව 3 වන සියවසේ සිට ක්‍රිස්තු වර්ෂ 13 වන සියවස දක්වා) . Colombo 7, Sri Lanka: Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology.

Also See

Map of the Ruins of Pavakkulam Stone Bridge

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
.

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.

Travelling Directions to the Pavakkulam Stone Bridge

Route from Medawachchiya to Pavakkulam Stone Bridge
Through : Vavuniya Road
Distance : 30 km
Time to Spend : 30 mins
Travel Time : 40 minutes
Driving Directions : see on Google map

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