Veli Vehera Archaeological Site hidden inside Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka and due to the proximity to the ancient capital of Anuradhapura, the ancient pearl fisheries habour as well the landing site of prince Vijaya in 523BC, this jungle is scattered with archeological wealth of the legendary Sri Lankan civilisation starting from the prehistoric days such as the Pomparippu urn burial site to various settlements, palaces and Buddhist temples starting from the pre Christian era. In 2006 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had carried out an exercise to record the resource inventory of Wilpattu. This report has inventried 68 archaeologically important sites, 4 fossil sites, 12 pre-historic sites, 42 Proto-historic and Historic sites and 87 irrigation tanks within this area.
According to Mahavamsa, The Great Chronical of Sri Lanka, King Suba (59-65) built 3 viharayas, one being “Valli Viharaya” near Uruvela (XXXV:58). Mahavamsa mentions fishermen at landing place (port) of Uruvela lying at a distance of five yojanas (approx 40 miles) from the city (Anuradhapura), donating a vessel of pearls as large as myrobalan fruits and corals to king Dutugemunu (XXVIII:36-37) to build the Maha Stupa (Ruvanweliseya). Uruvela, which had been founded by a minister of the King Vijaya (500 BC) has also functioned as a port for pearl fishery. Therefore there is a strong possibility that the hidden city of Uruvela being inside the jungles of Wilpattu. Brohier in Seeing Ceylon states that the “old city must have stood somewhere near the delta of the Kala Oya–not far south of Pomparippu.”
When the Prof Paranavithana started excavation of the Pomparippu Urn Burial site in 1956, they also focussed on a stupa in ruins which has been destroyed by treasure hunters discovered about a mile east of the cemetery site. Here some early coins, a silver purana (punch marked) coin, and two copper pieces of the mane-less lion type and a highly corroded Roman coin was discovered. In addition, another non-brahmic inscription was recorded believed to be in Kaka language (Vithana, 1987). What is more important is the discovery of the donative inscription belonging to the 8th century on a slab rock used in the construction of the Stupa Maluwa. This inscription refers to this site by the name, ‘Valli-Vihare‘ further strengthening the notion of the location of Uruvela being around Pomparippu.
In 1970s, further excavations and conservations have been carried out at this site. A Buddha statue has been discovered during this excavations and it is believed to be the statue mentioned in the kaka inscription discovered earlier. The Archeology Commissioners report for 1979 reports the work being continued and a jeep track of 2.5 km being cut from the vicinity of the 21st mile post on the Puttalam-Marichchikatti road and the daily trecking by foot on this elephant infested road by the staff to the site and back.
Being located deep in the jungle without any roads, there is very little information or photos of this archaeological site except the photos taken Kithsiri Gunawardena taken few year ago and published in www.wilpttu.com.
- De Silva, R. and Karunaratne, W., n.d. Administration report of the archaeological commissioner for the year 1979. 1st ed. Colombo: Department of the Government Printing, p.17-19.
- 2010. සිංහල මහාවංශය. 1st ed. Colombo: Buddhist Cultural Center.
- Mahānāma, Bode, M. and Geiger, W., 1912. The Mahavamsa or the great chronicle of Ceylon. 1st ed. London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press, p.250.
- Weeratunga, V., 2009. Wilpattu – Villus and beyond. 1st ed. Colombo: IUCN Sri Lanka Country Office.
- Brohier, R., 1982. Discovering Ceylon. 2nd ed. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Lake House Investments.
- IUCN, 2006. Resource Inventory of Wilpattu National Park : Final Report. Colombo: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Sri Lanka.
- W.L.D.P.T.S. de A. Goonatilake, 2006. Archaeologically important sites in Vilpattu National Park: present status and new findings. National Archaeological Symposium 2006: Papers submitted to the National Archaeological symposium. IUCN Sri Lanka.
- IUCN, 2011. Biodiversity and Socio-economic Information of Selected Areas of Sri Lankan Side of the Gulf of Mannar : Final Report. Report submitted by IUCN Sri Lanka Country Office to BOBLME Project Component 2.4 Collaborative Critical Habitat Management: Gulf of Mannar. Colombo: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Sri Lanka Country Office.
Map of Veli Vehera Archaeological Site
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.
Driving Directions to Veli Vehera Archaeological Site
|Route from Colombo up to Pomparippu|
|Though : Airport Highway – Negombo – Puttalam – Eluwankulama|
Distance : 167 km
Travel time : 3.5-4 hours
Driving directions : see on google map