The Sudukanda (meaning “white mountain” in Sinhala) ruins are located in the central-western end of Wasgamuwa National Park, which has the western limit of the Amban River, a tributary of the Mahaweli River, the largest river in Sri Lanka, and two mountain ranges in parallel. Locally these mountains are also called Kumara Kanda (meaning the “mountain of the prince” in Sinhala) as they believe these ruins to be part of a palace complex of a long-forgotten regional king. The ruins are spread in a vast area indicating a massive monastic complex which only treasure hunters have found to be interesting. No archaeological survey has been done on this treasure trove. However, a Japanese Archaeological team (South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society) meticulously studied this site in 2010 and again in 2011 and documented the ruins in a report published in Japanese. The below content is based on this research paper as noted in the reference section below.
Located at the western foot of the western mountain range that runs north and south, several ruined buildings are found built using the complex terrain of the small ridges and small valleys. The closest settlement is Garmulla Village in Elahera facing the west bank of the Amban River, and the ruins will be located about 4 km east-southeast in a straight line from the village. GPS measurements are 7 degrees 45 minutes 08 seconds north latitude and 80 degrees 52 minutes 16 seconds east longitude at the following terrace A point. At the Terrace C point, the latitude was 7 degrees 45 minutes 04 seconds north and the longitude 80 degrees 52 minutes 26 seconds east.
From the Galmulla Village, which is located 3km east-southeast of Bakamuna, cross the Amban River from the riverbank north of the village, and follow thin footsteps and beast paths to the jungle on the east coast for about 1km east. After that, about 2km in the southeast direction, go on a gentle slope over three dead swamps that flow westward, and finally climb the slope at the foot of the ridge toward the south, where you would come across a stone query where the stones for the complex was supplied. From the shape of the holes cut along lines to slice the stones to the required shape, it can be assumed that this temple complex was built at least before the 6th to 8th centuries (before the middle of the Anuradhapura dynasty). In addition, there are no traces of decorative bases on the stone pillars or in guardstones or moonstones. A simple line pattern engraving can be seen only on the balustrades.
The ruins have several terraces built on each of the five small ridges, such as the retaining wall of a stone wall, on which the main hall, Uposathaghara (Chapter Hall) , decorative toilets, etc. At least 11 buildings in this complex can be traced. It is roughly divided into 2 sections, one on the low ridge on the west side and the remaining on the upper part on the east side. The distance between the upper part and the lower part is about 300 m. It is clear that it was a huge complex with extended to multiple ridges in the mountain. It is possible that more ruins may be found in the upper part of the ridge and on the neighbouring ridges.
Ruins of the Ancient Dam
Located at the northwestern end of the vast archaeological area, it is a stone masonry dam built to store the water flowing through the archaeological area and the revetment of the upstream reservoir.
The stream that flows north on the west side of Terrace A merges with the stream that flows down from the east side at a point 50 m northwest of the steps of Terrace A. The dam has been built just downstream of the confluence. Clear stone masonry remains on both banks of the stream, and scattered stones can be seen on the riverbed.
Ridge A : Terrace A
There is a large stone staircase at the north end, which is the end of the ridge, and a terrace is built in a shelf shape from there toward the upper part of the ridge on the south side (Fig. 1-2). The flat land extending from the upper part of the stone steps to the south is covered with thick bushes and the remains are unknown. Three sides are left on the retaining wall, and traces of four buildings from A1 to A4 can be seen. In addition, it is presumed that a pier-shaped protrusion connecting the sidewalk to the upper area on the east side and a staircase leading down to the stream were also connected, forming the core of the temple.
The steps have a width of about 30m from east to west. Thirteen steps rise to about 3 meters from the bottom. At the time of the 2010 survey, it was thought from the surrounding terrain that this large stone staircase was the entrance to the temple considering its majestic nature but whether these steps were meant for the resident bikkus to walk down to the water stream below cannot be ruled out.
The cubic stones used for the stone steps are all large with a length of 130 to 150 cm, a width of about 120 cm, and a height (thickness) of 22 to 25 cm, and at least 300 of these cut stones are used. These remains symbolize the magnificence of the ruins.
Terrace A – Retaining wall (Photo 1-5)
Stone walls with natural stones and ashlars piled up to build Terrace A can be seen on all three sides except the south. The wall along the river on the east side is piled up to a height of about 4 to 5 m from the riverbed. The stone wall on the east side has a pier-shaped protrusion (width 7m x length about 11m) and a small staircase (five steps with a width of 200cm, height of 20cm) that descends to the riverbed. In addition, the retaining wall on the west side of Terrace A is piled up from the lower part near the stream like the east side. The lower part is not visible due to the accumulation of earth and sand, however, the upper part about 2 m is visible. On the north side, the retaining stone wall rises higher than the platform level. In the eastern part, there is a terrace protrusion of 9 m east-west x 7 m north-south and a slightly lower middle height to the west. Since there is also a small terrace (7m east-west x 5m north-south), it can be assumed that this was the entrance to Terrace A.
In the northeastern part of Terrace A, there is a building with a foundation area of about 11m east-west x about 15m north-south, and there are two stone pillars (cross-section 25cm x 25cm) standing at a height of about 2m from the surface of the earth, one in the southeast corner, the other in the southwest corner (Photo 1-6). It seems that the stone pillars stood in a forest rather than the outer hull of the building. Other fallen stone pillars with a length of 3 m and a huge stone plate of 180 cm × 100 cm × 25 cm (Photo 1-7) have been displaced by treasure hunters. The base or foundation of the building is exposed near the northeast and southeast corners due to pits dug by treasure hunters, and it can be seen that cut stones with a thickness of about 25 cm are piled up without gaps (Photo 1-8). The building has an entrance in the centre on the east side where another pit has been dug in search of treasures. Looking at the east side from this entrance, the pier of the terrace A protrusion extends directly in front of it, and the sidewalk leading to the upper archaeological site is connected to the end, and the A1 building is important in the entire archaeological site. (Mr. Bandara, one of the researchers of the Archeology Department speculates that it may be the ruins of Uposatha from the site, the shape of the stone pillars, the number of stone pillars, etc.).
Near the southwest corner of Terrace A, a 2m high stone pillar indicates a building with stone pillars. The masonry of the base and the line of stones showing the traces of the outer wall are buried in the soil and cannot be seen. A length of about 16 m can be confirmed with the natural stone terrace retaining wall, but the site shape and area of the building are unknown. (photo 1-11)
Located on the east side of Terrace A and on the south side of the building trace A1, about 3m northwest of the small stairs that descend to the riverbed, there is a balustrade (handrail; length 140cm, height 50cm, thickness 20cm) that shows the trace of an entrance to the building. One of the three stone steps, moonstone (radius 65 cm, thickness 15 cm) and guard stone (height 40 cm, width 35 cm, thickness 15 cm) are broken and displaced by treasure hunters. However, the foundation of the building itself is not clear, and its shape and scale are unknown.(photo 1-12)
This is located on the open rock about 60m south of the large staircase ruins of Terrace A and 20-30m west of the A3 building ruins. A 1.5m x 3m rectangle is engraved on the open rock at a depth of about 5cm. It is unknown whether it is the base of the building or the facility that stores rainwater, but there is a gutter that extends to the bottom on the east side of the rectangle, and it is highly possible that rainwater was stored here.
Ruins of the Pier and the Bridge
The pier extending east from the front of the building ruins A1 with a part of the terrace protruding (7m wide x 11m long) surrounded by the retaining wall of the stone wall. The pier, which has large cut stones lined up on both sides and has a groove-shaped surface in the middle as a passage, seems to have been connected to a passage of the same shape that extends to the opposite bank of the river by a bridge at the tip of the pier. The huge stone block that made up the building has fallen. The bridge had collapsed due to the stone wall at the tip of the passage on both banks (especially on the east bank side) collapsed, and a large amount of stone material is scattered on the riverbed. (Photo 1-14)
Pavement with waterway B
There is a trace of a pavement connecting ridge A (terrace A) and a densely populated area (the end of each ridge of C, D, E, F) that corresponds to the upstream part of the stream on the eastern side. It extends along the river at a distance of about 300m from east to west, with stairs on the slope. The width of the road is about 150 cm on the sidewalk. Cut stones with a width and height of about 40 cm and a length of 150 cm were lined up on both sides in a guard shape, and the guard on the north side was equipped with a stone gutter for the supply of water. Scattered parts of the stone gutters can be seen in the photo (Photo 1-15). The pavement extends almost straight in the lower part on the west side and draws a curve using natural terrain to the upper part in the east. On the mountainside on the south side, there are traces of some ridges being cut and extending the road, and there are clearly traces of 5 to 10 steps of cut stone stairs being built on 4 to 5 places with steep slopes. In addition, although the elevation difference between the east and west ends is not measured, it is about 60 m (average slope of about 10 degrees) based on the estimation from the tree height and other visual observations.
Supplying water through a Gutter System
It seems that the water in the upstream part was stored in a small reservoir (stone square reservoir) attached to Terrace C, and water was supplied to Terrace A in the lower west, which was attached to the stone gutter on the north side of the pavement. The stone gutter is made of square stone with a width and height of about 30 cm and a length of 100 to 150 cm and has a semi-cylindrical groove with a width and depth of 13 cm on the upper surface. However, in places with steep slopes or where the pavement is a staircase, it is not possible to directly connect the stone gutters, so it seems that the gutters were also installed in steps and water was poured in the form of continuously dropping small waterfalls. Unlike the stone material whose groove is carved from end to end, this “waterfall gutter” is carved so that one side (upstream end) stops water, so its use can be clearly understood (Photos 1-16 & 1-17). On the side of the collapsed pavement, these two types of stone gutters are scattered in numerous numbers, but there are 32 stone gutters carved through the groove and 24 “waterfall gutters” with a water stop on one side. Since there are many short “waterfall gutters”, it is easy to remember how this water supply is used to decorate the pavement with the continuous elegant view of the small waterfalls and the sound of the water.
Ridge – C
This ridge is located about 300m east of the pier on Terrace A, following the pavement along the river, and the stream flows to the north and west. At the western and northern ends of the ridge, a retaining wall of stone supporting terrace C is built, and on the southeast side of the terrace is the ruins of foundation C1, which is thought to be the foundation of the building. Further south, about 50m of gently climbing the ridge, there is the remains of a building with a group of stone pillars, C2, on the flat ground also created by the retaining wall. In addition, there is a medium-sized open rock on the east side of C2, the remains of C3 on the upper part, and the remains of F1, F2, etc. on the slightly northeast side (ridge F is only separated from ridge C at the end). It is a continuation of a small ridge). Also, on the north side of terrace C, there is a small reservoir (square stone reservoir) for storing water and supplying it to the water supply along pavement B, and it keeps its original shape well even though it is half buried.
The ends of the small ridges gather around this ridge C so that they are close to each other, terraces are built on each of them, and the remains of many structures are scattered in this area. Surrounded by other archaeological sites on all sides, it can be seen that Terrace C was the place that played a central role there.
Stone Pond (Water Tank)
Remains of a small reservoir built adjacent to the north side of Terrace C using a perfect combination of large stone plates (45 cm x 35 cm x 200 cm) that are long and neatly cut laid from north to south. The size of the pond is 450 cm x 280 cm measured from outside and 420 cm x 190 cm measured from inside. It should be 150 cm or more, although it cannot be measured accurately due to the accumulation of earth and sand on the bottom and the accumulation of water. On the west side (downstream side), there are traces of stonework that seems to have surrounded the pond with a low wall.
The method of supplying water from this water tank to the water supply (stone gutter) along the pavement is unclear because a drainage port could not be confirmed due to sediment accumulation on the outside (Photos 1-18 & 1-19).
Ruins of the Building C`1
Inside Terrace C (southeast side), a stone wall trace with a height of about 1 m similar to the above-mentioned retaining wall can be seen, extending from the northeast corner to the south and east. The size of this structure is uncertain since parts are buried by earth and sand, but since the stone materials of ashlar are scattered in the upper site, it may have been the foundation of some kind of building, or a terrace wall built further inside with this as a retaining wall. (Photo 1-20 / 1-21, Fig.1-3)
Ruins of the Building C`2
Proceeding about 20m southeast from C1, a stone wall extending from north-northeast to south-southwest is built like a retaining wall, and there is a trace of a building (C2) in the upper site on the east side. Since the stone remains such as moonstones, guard stones, and stairs with balustrades are scattered on the north side of the building trace C2, it can be seen that the entrance (entrance) of the temple building was here (Photo 1-22, 1-23).
Moonstone (Photo 1-24) is a semicircle with a radius of about 60 cm, and a thickness of 27 cm, and a thin engraving on the surface is found, but the pattern is not clear due to weathering. Only one guard stone (Photo 1-25) remains near the handrail on the east side, and it has a height of 60 cm, a width of 35 cm, and a thickness of 15 cm, and has no pattern.
At a point 15m further south from the southern end of the ruins of C2, there is a toilet stone that was half buried in the earth and sand on the slope to the stream side. However, the entire area was buried in earth and sand, and no trace of the toilet building is seen in the surrounding area (Photo 1-26).
Ruins of the Building C3
Located in the upper part of the open rock further southeast of C2, the remains of a building with 4 x 4 foundation stone pillars (each with a cross-section of 30 cm x 30 cm and a height of 90 cm from the current surface), moonstone ( Radius 50 cm, thickness 20 cm), stone slabs (115 cm x 85 cm x 15 cm), etc. are scattered. It is difficult to judge the original shape and scale of the building due to the severe damage to the stone rows, but the stone pillars are well preserved, and 15 stones except for the one in the centre stand side by side in parallel to the north, south, east and west (Photo 1-27).
Funnel Shaped Stone
A cubic slab that was found on the riverbed (near the southern end of the terrace C retaining wall) that flows north between ridge C and ridge D. Is pierced like a funnel and has a small hole through it. A decorative straight line is embossed on the outside. It seems that it was originally an accessory of facilities related to water such as water supply, but there are no artificial objects such as stone gutters nearby, and its use is unknown. It seems that it was carried from another place because it was unnaturally placed on the riverbed without being buried in earth and sand (it is suspected that it was related to the toilet stone on the south side of the C2 building, which is located in the upper reaches of the river. That is also unknown) (Photo 1-28, 1-29).
Ruins of the Building D1
These ruins are located on the opposite bank on the northeast side of the river, overlooking Terrace C, and a steep dew rock rises on the south side. The outer hull of the foundation of the building remains cannot be measured accurately because the stone rows are partly buried in the soil. However, this building may have been about 25m east-west x about 15m north-south in size. There are 16 pillars lain in a 4×4 matrix, each about 55cm in height. The cross-section of each stone pillar is 30 cm x 30 cm, and the distance between the stone pillars is 165 cm. A pit of about 1 meter deep has been dug on the west side of the stone pillar group. Other ruins such as Stone slabs (115 cm x 135 cm x 20 cm) and moonstones (radius 50 cm, thickness 20 cm) Etc. are scattered all over the building probably displaced by treasure hunters (Fig 1-5, photo 1-30)
Ruins of the Building F2
If you go up the slope about 25m south of D2, you will find the ruins of the building D3. There are 5 steps of stairs showing the entrance trace on the north side, the width of the stairs (the length of the stone of 1 step) is 120 cm, and the depth of the footrest is 30 cm, which is narrow but gentle. It can be inferred that the site (terrace) on the south side is about 15m square. On the southwest corner side of the site, there are 4 x 4 foundation stone pillars (all 30 cm x 30 cm in cross-section) along the north, south, east, and west but most are broken. 11 pillars are still standing and rise to about 50 cm above the ground surface. The distance between pillars is 80 cm to 100 cm, respectively. Two rows of low stones are clearly left around this group of stone pillars (a small building less than 4m square) found in a corridor. (Photo 1-32, Fig. 1-6)
Ruins of the Building D4
The site is located on the west side of building D1 and is built by a long retaining wall (the east-west extension of about 30 m remains) built on the valley side of the mainstream in the north (the side with the pavement B). The retaining wall has collapsed significantly due to the extrusion of earth and sand and the roots of huge trees, and a 6-story stone wall can be seen only in some parts. Stone materials (large ones are around 100 cm x 150 cm x 20 cm) are scattered around.
This building seemed to have been a two-tiered structure, and staircase traces could be confirmed in two places, the north side and the east side of the site.
Ridge E – Rock Shelter and others
This is a large ridge on the north side of the mainstream from ridge C. A huge rock rises like a cliff at the tip of the ridge, there is a shallow rock cave. From the direction of Terrace C, it seems that a passage with stone steps was built on the steep slope on the opposite bank beyond the stream. There is a narrow flat area at the top of the shaded rock hill with traces of small square structures. If you go around this ridge to the northeast, you will find the remains of stairs carved on the slope of the open rock and the pillar (Yupastone) of the stupa that seems to have rolled down from the upper part of the ridge (unexplored area).
Slope passage with rock shelter – E1
There is a rock shade (shallow cave) with a length of 7 m, a depth of 2.5 m, and an outer height of 3.1 m under the cliff on the southeast side of the huge rock that overhangs from the north side with vertical rock walls on three sides. A drip ledge (kataram) is carved to stop the rainwater flowing along the rock. The floor of the cave is a slope covered with earth and sand, and its original appearance is uncertain. From the northern end to the rock mass, a masonry wall is found to protect and give to the rock. Furthermore, from the western end of the rock mass, traces of masonry surrounding the shade (retaining wall traces that make flat land or low stone wall traces) were also visible. The outside of the rock shade is leveled indicating a possible manmade extension from the rock cave.
This rock shade is the site would have been used for meditation by the bhikkhus and may be the earliest construction of the whole Sudukanda site. It can be seen from the arrangement of stones that remain on the slope, it would have been much easier to reach this cave earlier. Stone plates and stone pillars are scattered from the hem of the huge rock to the lower part of the slope on the west side of this stone stairway, but the original shape and use are unknown. (Photo 1-33, 1-34)
A small staircase with a width of 35 cm and a total length of 160 cm is carved on another exposed rock slope 20 m northeast of the huge rock with the rock shelter. With a height of 7 cm and a riser of 25 cm, 7 steps remain, and a group of stone pillars at the foundation of the building can be seen on the lower flat land on the southeast side, but the site can be estimated to be about 5 m square and the shape is uncertain. On the open rock slope at the top of the stairs, there is a large stone plate measuring 220 cm x 80 cm x 25 cm. (Photo 1-35, 1-37)
Yupa Gala E3
There is a dig by treasure hunters on the slope of the ridge 30m northeast of the stone steps, and the stone pillars that are thought to have been buried are exposed as if they were dug out. The pit is covered with soil and no other artefacts are found, and an octagonal pillar that seems to be a broken Yupastone is rolled on the side (length 80 cm, diameter 18 cm). This seems to have rolled down from the upper part of the slope on the north side, indicating that the stupa had existed in the upper part which was not explored. (Photo 1-38)
Ruins of building D3
Traces of 3 buildings are found on this ridge. Below, each remains will be described in order from the upper part of the slope (south side). There is a step (120 cm wide 3 stone steps) on the south side of the flat land (building site trace). The moonstone and guard stone that had been used remain. The left and right balustrades are 60 cm high and 15 cm thick. The guard stone was 90 cm high, 35 cm wide and 15 cm thick, but the moonstone was very small with a radius of 30 cm and a thickness of 25 cm, both of which were plain with no carvings. The toilet bowl trace that remains on the site of the building is a stone plate with a total thickness of 65 cm x 50 cm and a thickness of 20 cm. There is. From the size of the hole, it seems to be for urine.
Only the stone material of the foundation remains, and the site shape is convex and protrudes greatly to the steep slope on the west side. The stones used for the foundation or the foundation of the outer shell of the building are elongated with a length of 2 m and a thickness of 20 cm x 20 cm. The stone rows on the convex part on the west side are collapsing toward the swamp side of the steep slope. 40 cm square stones are placed on both ends of the convex part, but the original shape is unknown. It is probable that water was passed from the upper part of the slope (unexplored) on the east side because a stone gutter similar to that of the water supply facility B remains on the north side of the stone line on the site. (Photo 1-39 ・ 1-40)
At the site of the building at the end of the ridge, the stone pillars of the foundation are lined up at a height of 30 cm from the current surface of the earth, and a plain moonstone is installed at the entrance on the south side. The stone rows on the outside of the building are buried and cannot be measured, but it seems that they stood on a flat land of about 10m x 20m. The group of 4 x 4 stone pillars are lined up in a shape close to the original shape except for the large pit dug by treasure hunters in the centre, and the cross-section of one stone pillar is 20 cm x 20 cm. Various stone blocks such as 100 cm x 150 cm x 15 cm stone plates are scattered on the north and west sides of this group of stone pillars, but it can be inferred that these were moved by treasure hunters. (Photo 1-41)
Ruins of the Stupa
Only this stupa is on the top of the eastern ridge (main ridge extending from north to south). It is about 200m southeast of point C. (Photo 1-42). The remains of the pagoda were small, about 5m in diameter, and there were traces of treasure hunter digs. Because the ridge is thin, it may not be possible to build a platform if it is too large. From the stupa ruins, you can see the Sudukanda ruins, and if it was not covered with jungle, it seems that most of the remains could be seen.
The ruins of this Buddhist pagoda were discovered by the 2011 re-investigation team, but the previous year’s squad discovered the Yupa stone (core pillar = E3) that was thought to have been used for the Buddhist pagoda at the southern foot of Ridge E on the northeast side of the ruins. However, since the straight line is about 200 m away from this pagoda and the streams are different, the relationship between the two is not sure, and the re-investigation team also explored the upper part of ridge E, but the time was limited and further stupa traces were not discovered. The GPS measurements of the found Buddhist stupa were 07 degrees 45 minutes 02.7 seconds north latitude and 80 degrees 52 minutes 32.4 seconds east longitude.
- Okamura, T., 2015. RUINS IN CENTRAL EASTERN AREA OF SRI LANKA — at the jungle of Amban Ganga Basin and the outskirts —. Tokyo: South Asian Ruins Exploration and Research Society (SARERS).
Map of the Sudukanda (Kumarakanda) Ruins
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 Sudukanda (Kumarakanda) Ruins
|Route from Colombo up to Galmulla village in Bakamuna|
|Though : Kurunegala – Galewela – Dambulla – Bakamuna|
Distance : 195 km
Travel time : 5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map