Ranawa Andiyagala Pillar Inscription (රණව ආඬියාගල ටැම් ලිපිය)

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Travelling 5.8 km on the road to Jathika Namal Uyana from Madatuwewa on the Dambulla-Kekirawa Road, you will reach the Devrada Ranrada Purana Rajamaha Viharya in Ranawa. Right in front of this temple in the center of the road lies an unmarked ancient stone pillar which only few know the importance of it. This is known as the Ranawa Andiyagala Pillar Inscription.

H.C.P. Bell’s account, documented in the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon’s annual report for 1893, details a pillar located at Ranawa on the Madatugama-Andiyagala road. He writes; This pillar bears an inscription and is adorned with a beautifully carved Pot of Plenty (Pun Kalasa) atop it, featuring letters engraved on all sides. Bell observes that due to the small size and worn condition of the letters, he refrained from attempting to decipher them. However, he identifies the inscription as likely belonging to the 12th regnal year of a king named Aba Salamenwan, with strong indications pointing towards King Dappula V (924-935 CE). Additionally, Bell mentions another fragmented pillar inscription discovered nearby, close to an old small stupa, which also references Aba Salamevan and his father Siri Sun Bo (known as Sena II), providing further support for this historical interpretation (Bushana, 2023).

The pillar is 5½ feet high and the width of each side varies from 6 to 6½ inches. All 8 sides of the pillar has been used for the inscription. The Pot of Plenty at the top of the pillar is missing today.

This epigraph as a whole contains 29 lines of writing with over 209 words or about 800 letters and it is in lengthwise second only to the Badulu (Sorabora Wewa) Pillar Inscription of King Udaya IV. 

Professor Ranwella carried out a detailed study of this inscription and published it in part 2 of volume 5 of In Inscriptions of  Ceylon in 2004.

The script utilized for this inscription aligns with the alphabet prevalent during the first half of the 10th century. Dated to the 12th regnal year of King Abha Sakamewan, whose parents were King Sirisangabo and Queen Sanga-radna, the decree is attributed to a Mapa named Uda (Udaya) serving under the king. Drawing upon historical evidence, Professor Ranwella has asserted that Abha Salamewan corresponds to King Dappula IV.

Translation of the Ranawa Inscription

Interesting Facts arising out of the Inscription

The inscription is a declaration of a sanctuary covering a large area including Namal Uyana. This is not only a sanctuary for animals and trees, but also for humans who have committed crimes. The royal guards are not allowed to enter this area to capture criminals. It’s interesting that even in the 10th century, Sri Lanka had officially declared human sanctuaries. Other inscriptions of the same king have declared other land under monasteries as human sanctuaries as well. Sri Lanka may be the only country which had such officially declared human sanctuaries of this era.

Another noteworthy aspect is the enduring name of the village mentioned in the inscription, “Rana,” which has remained unchanged for over a millennium. Presently, this village is known as Ranawa, maintaining its historical identity despite the passage of time


  1. Ranawella, S. (2004) Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol V (part II). Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka.
  2. Bushana (2023) වසර දහසක් නම වෙනස් නොවූ රණැ ග්‍රාමය සහ දෙමෙට්වල පිරිවෙන පිහිටි නා කැලේ කන්ද. Available at: http://trisinhala.blogspot.com/2023/07/blog-post.html (Accessed: 09 April 2024)

Also See

Map of Ranawa Andiyagala Pillar Inscription

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

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Traveling Directions to Ranawa Andiyagala Pillar Inscription

Route from Dambulla Junction to Ranawa Andiyagala Pillar Inscription
Through : Yapahuwa Rock Palace
Distance : 14 km
Travel time : 25 mins
Time to Spend : 10 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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