| Our ancient Kings
Vijaya 38 Years 543 - 505 BC Thammanna Nuwara
Upathissa 01 Year 505 - 504 BC Upathissa Nuwara
Panduwasa Dewa 30 Years 504 -474 BC Upathissa Nuwara
Abhaya 20 Years 474 - 454 BC Upathissa Nuwara
Pandukabhaya 70 Years 437 - 367 BC Anuradhapuraya
Mutasiwa 60 Years 367 - 307 BC Anuradhapuraya
Devanampiyathissa 40 Years 307 - 267 BC Anuradhapuraya
Uththiya 10 Years 267 - 257 BC Anuradhapuraya
Mahasiwa 10 Years 257 - 247 BC Anuradhapuraya
Surathissa 10 Years 247 - 237 BC Anuradhapuraya
Sana & Guththika 10 Years 237 - 215 BC Anuradhapuraya
Asela 10 Years 215 - 205 BC Anuradhapuraya
Elara 44 Years 205 - 161 BC Anuradhapuraya
Dutugemunu 24 Years 161 - 137 BC Anuradhapuraya
Saddhathissa 18 Years 137 - 119 BC Anuradhapuraya
Thullaththana 01 Month 119-- BC Anuradhapuraya
Lanjithissa 09 Years & 08 Month 119 - 109 BC Anuradhapuraya
Kallathanaga 06 Years 109 - 103 BC Anuradhapuraya
Wattagamini Abhaya ( Walagamba ) 05 Month- ( 1st rulling time ) 103 BC Anuradhapuraya
Walagamba 12- Years ( 2nd rulling time ) 89 - 76 BC Anuradhapuraya
Pualahattha 03 Years 103 - 100 BC Anuradhapuraya
Bhahiya 02 Years 100 - 98 BC Anuradhapuraya
Panayamara 07 Years 98 - 91 BC Anuradhapuraya
Piliyamara 07 Month 91 - 90 BC Anuradhapuraya
Dhatiya 02 Years 90 - 89 BC Anuradhapuraya
Mahasilu Mahathissa14 Years 76 -- 62 BC Anuradhapuraya
Choranaga 12 Years 62 - 50 BC Anuradhapuraya
Thissa ( Kuda Thissa ) 03 Years 50 - 47 BC Anuradhapuraya
Anula & Her Husbonds 04 Years & 03 Month 47 - 42 BC Anuradhapuraya
Kutakannathissa 22 Years 42 - 20 BC Anuradhapuraya
Bhathiya , Bhathika Abhaya, Bhathiya Thiss 28 Years 20 BC - 09 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahadathiya Mahanaga 12 Years 09 - 21 AC Anuradhapuraya
Amanda Gamini 09 Years- 21 - 30 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kanirajanuthissa 03 Years 30 - 33 AC Anuradhapuraya
Chulabhaya 02 Years 33 - 35 AC Anuradhapuraya
Queen Seewali 04 Month 35 AC Anuradhapuraya
Eylanaga 09- Years 35 - 44 AC Anuradhapuraya
Chandramukhaseewa 08 Years 44 - 52 AC Anuradhapuraya
Yasalalakathissa 07 Years & 08 Month 52 - 60 AC Anuradhapuraya
Subharaja 06 Years 60 - 66 AC Anuradhapuraya
Wasabha 44 Years 66 - 110 AC Anuradhapuraya
Wankanasikathissa 03 Years 110 - 113 AC Anuradhapuraya
Gajaba - I22 Years 113 - 135 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahallakhanagha 06 Years 135 - 141 AC Anuradhapuraya
Bhathiya Thissa - II 24 Years 141 - 165 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kanitthathissa 28 Years 165 - 193 AC Anuradhapuraya
Chulanaga ( Kujjanaga ) 02 Years 193 - 195 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kunchanaga 01 Years 195 - 196 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sirinaga 19 Years 196 - 215 AC Anuradhapuraya
Voharikathissa 22 Years 215 - 236 AC Anuradhapuraya
Abhayanaga 08 Years 236 - 244 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sirinaga - II 08 Years 244 - 246 AC Anuradhapuraya
Vijayakumara 01 Year 246 - 247 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sangathissa 04 Years 247 - 251 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sirisangabhodhi ( Sirisagabo ) 02 Years 251 - 253 AC Anuradhapuraya
Ghotabhaya 13 Years 253 - 266 AC Anuradhapuraya
Detuthis - I ( Jettathissa ) 10 Years- 266 - 276 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahasen 27 Years 276 - 303 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sirimewan 28 Years 303 - 331 AC Anuradhapuraya
Detuthissa - II 09 Years 331 - 340 AC Anuradhapuraya
Buddhadasa 29 Years 340 - 369 AC Anuradhapuraya
Upathissa - I 42 Years 369 - 410 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahanama 22 Years 410 - 432 AC Anuradhapuraya
Soththisena 01 Day 432 AC Anuradhapuraya
Chaththagrahaka 01 Year 432 - 433 AC Anuradhapuraya
Miththasena 01 Years 433 - 434 AC Anuradhapuraya
Pandu 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Parinda 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kudaparinda 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Thirithara 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dhatiya 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Phitiya 434 - 459 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dhatusena 18 Years 459 - 477 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kashayapa 18 Years 477 - 495 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mugalan -- I 18 Years 495 - 512 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kumaradasa ( Kumara Dhathusena ) 09 Years 512 - 521 AC Anuradhapuraya
Keerthisena 09 Month 521 AC Anuradhapuraya
Siwa 25 Days 521 AC Anuradhapuraya
Upathissa - II 01 Year 521 - 522 AC Anuradhapuraya
Silakala 13 Years 522 - 535 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dathappabhuthi ( Dhapuphasen ) 06 Month 535 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mugalan -- III 20 Years 535 - 555 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kithsirimewan- ( Keerthi Sri Megawarna ) 19 Years 555 - 573 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahanaga 03 years 573- -575 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - I ( Agrabhodhi ) 34 Years 575 - 608 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - III 10 Years 608 - 618 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sangathissa 02 Month 618 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mugalan - III 05 Years 618 - 623 AC Anuradhapuraya
Asigrahaka ( Shilamegawarna ) 09 Years 623 - 632 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - III 06 Month ( 1st rulling time) 632 AC Anuradhapuraya
Jetthathissa ( Detuthissa )- - III 05 Month 632 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo- - III 16 Years- ( 2nd rulling time ) 632 - 648 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dathasiwa - I 02 Years 648 - 650 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kashayapa -- II 09 years 650 - 659 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dappula - I 03 Years 659 - 662 AC Anuradhapuraya
Haththadatha ( Dhatopathissa - II ) 09 Years 659 - 667 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - IV ( Aggabhodhi ) 16 Years 667 - 683 AC Anuradhapuraya
Daththa 02 Years 683 - 684 AC Anuradhapuraya
Haththadatha- 06 Month 684 AC Anuradhapuraya
Manawamma 35 Years 684 - 719 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - V 06 Years 719 - 725 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kashshapa - III 06 Years 725 - 731 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mahinda - I-- ( Mihindu ) 03 Years 731- 733 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo- - VI 40 Years 733 - 722 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - VII 06 Years 772 - 718 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mihindu - II 20 Years Anuradhapuraya
Dappula -II ( Udaya - I ) 05 Years 797 - 802 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mihindi - III 03 Years 802 - 805 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agb0 - VIII 11 Years 805 - 816 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dappula - III 16 Years 816 - 831 AC Anuradhapuraya
Agbo - IX 02 Years 831 - 833 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sena - I 20 Years 833 - 853 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sena - II 35 Years 853 - 887 AC Anuradhapuraya
Udaya - II 11 Years 887 - 898 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kashshapa- - IV 17 Years 898 - 915 AC Anuradhapuraya
Kashshapa- - V 09 Years 915 - 924 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dappula - IV 07 Month 924 AC Anuradhapuraya
Dappula - V 12 Years 924 - 935 AC Anuradhapuraya
Udaya - II 03 Years 935 - 938 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sena - III 08 Years 938 - 946 AC Anuradhapuraya
Udaya - III 06 Years 946 - 952 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sena - IV 03 Years 952 - 955 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mihindu - IV 16 Years 955 - 972 AC Anuradhapuraya
Sena - V 10 Years 972 - 982 AC Anuradhapuraya
Mihindu - V 36 Years 982 - 1018 AC Anuradhapuraya
Vijayabahu - I 55 Years 1055 - 1110 AC Polonnaruwa
Jayabahu - I 01 Year 1110 AC Polonnaruwa
Vickramabahu 21 Years 1110 - 1131 AC Polonnaruwa
Gajaba - II 22 Years 1131 - 1153 AC Polonnaruwa
Maha Parakramabahu - I 33 Years 1153 - 1186 AC Polonnaruwa
Vijayabahu - II 01 Year 1186 - 1187 AC Polonnaruwa
Mihindu ( mahinda ) - IV 05 Days 117 AC Polonnaruwa
Nishshankamalla 09 Years 1187 - 1196 AC Polonnaruwa
Veerabahu - I 01 Day 1196 AC Polonnaruwa
Vickramabahu - II 03 Month 1196 AC Polonnaruwa
Chidaganga 09 Month 1196 - 1197 AC Polonnaruwa
Leelawathi 03 Years ( 1st rulling time ) 1197 - 1200 AC Polonnaruwa
Leelawathi 01 Year ( 2nd rulling time ) 1210 AC Polonnaruwa
Leelawathi 07 Month ( 3rd rulling time ) 1212 AC Polonnaruwa
Sahasamalla 02 Years 1200- - 1202 Ac Polonnaruwa
Kalyanawati 08 Years 1202 - 1210 AC Polonnaruwa
Darmshoka 01 Year 1210 AC Polonnaruwa
Anikanga 17 days 1210 AC Polonnaruwa
Lokeshwara 09 Month 1211 AC Polonnaruwa
Parakramapandu 03 Years 1212 - 1215 AC Polonnaruwa
Kalinga- Maga 21 Years 1215 - 1236 AC Polonnaruwa
Vijayabahi - III 04 Years 1220- 1224 AC Dambadeniya
Parakramabahu - II 35 Years 1234 -1269 AC Dambadeniya
Vijayabahu - IV 03 Years 1267 - 1270 Ac Dambadeniya
Buvanekabahu - I 12 Years 1270 -1283 AC Dambadeniya & Yapahuwa
Parakramabahu - III 06 Years 1287 - 1293 AC Polonnaruwa
Buwanekabahu - II 09 Years 1293 - 1302 AC Kurunegala
Panditha Parakramabahu - IV 24 Years 1302 - 1326 AC Kurunegala
Buwanekabahu - III Kurunegala
Vijayabahu - V Kurunegala
Buvanekabahu - IV 12 Years 1341 - 1353 AC Gampola
Parakramabahu - V 15 Years 1344 - 1359 Dedigama & Gampola
Vickramabahu - III 17 Years 1500 - 1374 AC Gampola
Buvanekabahu - V 37 Years 1372 - 1408 AC Gampola
Veerabahu - II 05 Years 1392 - 1397 AC Raigama
Veeraalakeshvara 12 Years 1397 - 1410 Ac Raigama
Parakramabahu - VI 55 Years 1412 - 1467 AC Kotte
Jayabahu - II 05 Years 1467 - 1472 AC Kotte
Buvanekabahu - VI 09 Years 1472 - 1480 AC Kotte
Parakramabahu - VII 04 Years 1480 - 1484 AC Kotte
Veeraparakramabahu - VIII 24 Years 1484- 1508 AC Kotte
Darma Parakramabahu - IX 20 Years 1508 - 1528 AC Kotte & Kelaniya
Vijayabahu - VII 12 Years 1510 - 1522 AC Kotte
Buwanekabahu- - VII 30 Years- 1522 - 1551 AC Kotte
Darmapala 46 Years 1551 - 1597 Ac Kotte
Mayadunna 60 Years 1521 - 1581 AC Seethawaka
Rajasinghe - I 39 years 1554 - 1593 AC Seethawaka
Don Pilip 01 Year 1591 AC Mahanuwara
Wimaladarmasuriya - I 13 years Mahanuwara
Senarath 31 Years 1604 1635 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Rajasinghe - II 52 Years 1635 - 1687 AC Senkadagala
Wimaladarmasuriya - II 20 Years 1687 - 1707 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Narendrasinghe 32 Years 1707 - 1739 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Vijaya Rajasinghe 08 Years 1739 - 1747 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe 35 years 1747 - 1782 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Radhirajasinghe 16 Years 1782 - 1798 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe 17 Years 1798 - 1815 AC Mahanuwara ( Senkadagala )
| History in Brief
Sri Lanka is a country with a unique and a proud historical record of a great civilization, a culture of achievements, spanning over a period of several centuries before and after the birth of Christ, which by comparison cannot be second to any contemporary civilization that existed in the world.
For the purpose of this publication, the History of Sri Lanka, spanning a period of over twenty five centuries, is divided into the following periods
Different Periods Of The History Of Sri Lanka
The Pre-Historic Period Beyond 1000 Bc
Pre Anuradhapura Period
Period of Rule from Vijaya 483 BC to Tissa 377 BC (Second son of Panduvasdeva)
Period of Rule from King Pandukhabaya 337 BC to King Kassapa VII 1055 AD
Period of rule from Vijayabahu 1-1055 AD to MaghaKalinga A Prince of Kalinga 1232 AD
Period of rule from King Vijayabahu III 1232 AD to Parakrambahu III 1293 AD
Period of rule from Buvanekabahu II 1293 AD to Vijayabahu V 1341 AD
Period of rule from BuvanekaBahu IV 1341 AD to BuvanekaBahu V 1408 AD
Period of Rule from Vijayabahu 1408 AD to Don Juan Dharmapala 1597 AD
Period of Rule from Senasammatha Viraparakramabahu 1469 AD to Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe 1815 AD
The Colonial Period
1506 to 1658 AD -The period during which the Portuguese ruled the maritime Provinces of Sri Lanka, except the Kandyan Provinces
1658 to 1796 AD – The period during which the Dutch ruled the maritime Provinces of Sri Lanka, except the Kandyan Provinces
1796 to 1815 AD -The period during which the British ruled the maritime Provinces of Sri Lanka except the Kandyan Provinces
1815 to 4th February 1948 – AD The period during which the British ruled the whole of Sri Lanka after capturing the Kandyan Provinces in 1815
The Sources Of Sri Lankan History
Until recent times very little information was available regarding Sri Lanka’s Prehistoric period. It is due to the excavations, research and studies undertaken by Wilhelm G Solheim II, S. Deraniyagala and several other archaeologists from about the early 1970s that new information is being published. .
The Sources Of The Period Since 500 Bc
The most important sources of the period since 500 BC are the literary sources such as the great chronicle Mahavamsa together with its commentary Vamsatthappakasini, and its continuation the Chulavamsa. It is said that Sri Lanka is unique in the possession of a historical record so ancient, continuous and trustworthy, beginning with the occupation of the island by civilized men in the 5th century B.C. and continuing the story, under each successive King, for twenty two centuries. The Mahavamsa is primarily a dynamic and religious history as well, but it describes the main political events, such as invasions, conquests, civil wars and succession, disputes, and it throws light on social history as well. It is a poem written in elegant PALI Language and it was compiled initially in the sixth century AD by two learned Buddhist monks named Mahanama and Dhammakitti.
Other Historical Sources
In addition to the Mahawamsa there are a large number of inscriptions in Sri Lanka; the total number already discovered exceeds 2500. It is believed that many more lithic records would be found in the country.
The earliest inscriptions are contemporary with the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C. Well over 1000 epigraphs, mostly inscribed on caves, belong to the third, second and first centuries B.C. and they exist in every part of the dry zone, as well as in the old cave temples of the Colombo, Kegalla and Kandy districts.
The Prehistoric Period
It is intended to provide a detailed account of the prehistoric period of Sri Lanka as the historical information basedon archaeological research and studies in respect of this period were not available. Hence not much publicity was given to this Historical period.However, consequent to the excavations and the research studies undertaken by Dr. S.U. Deraniyagala, he was able to reveal valuable information in respect of this period.
According to pioneer archaeological investigations of Wilhelm G Solheim II that commenced in the nineteen seventies and several other archaeologists, much information is being dug out from South-East Asian countries that shows strong evidence of Pre-historic cultures that influenced the east as well as the west. Sri Lanka was on the ancient sea route from east to the west and as such became a subject of serious investigations by those experts for connections to South East Asian pre historical cultures.
According to Dr. Deraniyagala’s findings, thirty feet below the ground in the an¬cient city of Anuradhapura lie the remnants of Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization dating back to 900-800 B.C.
Deraniyagala also discovered several specimens of writing dating back at least to the 6th and 5th centuries before Christ(BC). These writings are in the form of early Brahmi script.
According to Deraniyagala, Stone Age researches cover the period from 700,000 BC to 1000 BC and he has observed the interaction of man and environment during that period.
Sri Lanka’s past climatic fluctuations for about 500,000 years have been delineated on the basis of those investigations and co-related with the evolution of Sri Lanka’s Stone Age. In his research, cultures have been studied in terms of stone tool technology, subsistence practices, settlement patterns, burial practices and physical anthropology. These studies have pioneered climatologist studies in South Asia and in the Tropics in general. It seems that for the first time it is securely established that humans of the old Stone Age have inhabited Sri Lanka as early as 125,000 years ago and possibly 500,000 or more.
Much of the details in Deraniyagala’s findings commence from the excavations in several caves in the Sabaragamuwa Province which have exhibited stone tools displaying a high degree of sophistication in their design, which first came into prominence in Sri Lanka as early as 30,000 years ago. They preceded their first appearance in Europe by some 20,000 years.
Physical anthropology of Sri Lankan humans from 29,000 BC onwards has been studied in detail in collaboration with specialists from the Cornel University U.S.A. Based on these results Deraniyagala has expressed the view that one group of findings represent the earliest evidence of anatomically modern man to be discovered in South Asia so far. Moreover, it has been observed that there has been an unbroken line of descent from humans found at
around 14,000 BC right down to the descendants of the Sri Lankan aborigines – the Veddhas.
Several assemblages of human remains from 14,000 BC down to the recent times have been studied in detail leading up to those conclusions. The methods and technology used for the researches are considered to be very up to date and in many ways have been applied for the first time in Asia.
Chronological Table Of The Monarchs Of Sri Lanka
Compiling an accurate chronological table of the monorchs of Sri Lanka spanning a period of approximately 2500 years, has been a perennial problem that scholars of Sri Lankan History have faced. The periods that troubled the scholars most were the Pre Anuradhapura period and the latter part of Kurunegala, Yapahuwa Gampola period and Kotte periods. After consulting many authoritative sources the author preferred to adopt the Chronology given in Walpola Rahula’s Book “History of Buddhism in Sri Lanka”, which is based on Geiger’s List of Kings up to Kassapa V (913-923 AD). From Dappula 111 (923 – 924 AD) the Chronological dates are based on that provided in Vol. I Pa/rt 11 “University of Ceylon History of Ceylon “, Book pp 843 – 847. The dates up to Sena 1(833 – 853 AD) are only approximate.
The Traditional history of Sri Lanka begins about the 5th century B.C. with the first settlement in this land of a people named Simhala an Indo Aryan group who came from North India. About 70% of the people still inhabiting the island are known by that name. After considering all historical as well as traditional sources available several renowned- scholars have come to the conclusion that ancestors of the Sinhalese migrated to Sri Lanka first from the Indus river region in North India, where a group of people called KAMBOJAS also lived, in close proximity to them. It is also accepted by historians that there was a later immigration by Indo-Aryans in the Bengal Orissa region of the North East of India.
Mahavamsa the chronicle of the Sinhalese is considered to be one of the oldest in the world where a continuing history of the nation is being recorded from about the 550 B C. The original authorships are ascribed to Thera Mahanama (First Part) who was resident at Dighasandasenapti Pirivena (A Buddhist seat of learning for lay persons and the clergy) at Anuradhapura and Dharmakitti Thera (Second Part) in Polonnaruwa.
Period of rule of Vijaya 483 – 445 BC
The chronicle Mahavamsa has recorded that Vijaya arrived in Sri Lanka by ship with 700 turbulent followers who were banished by the King of Vanga in India. They grasped the soil on the land with their hands which became copper coloured. Thereupon they named the place Thambapanni (which later became Taprobane to the Greeks)
Vijaya is said to have landed in Sri Lanka on the very day of Buddha’s Parinirvana (Passing away). He and his followers learnt that the place at which they have arrived was called SIRISAVATTHU inhabited by Yaksas (A tribe of local inhabitants said to have been of a ferocious nature). Later Vijaya and his men came into the power of Kuveni the daughter of the Yaksa King. At that stage Kuveni offered her hand to Vijaya and he accepted her as his consort
On Kuveni’s advice Vijaya rid the island of Yaksas and built the THAMBAPANNI NAGARA at the place of his landing.
Having established themselves firmly in a new land Vjaya’s followers wished to consecrate their leader as King, but Vijaya declined to do so until he had a bride from the Ksatriya clan to be his queen.
Envoys were sent to the Pandu King of Madura in India, requesting the hand of his daughter,to which proposal the Pandu King agreed and sent not only his daughter but seven hundred maids as well, as brides for his followers.
Thereupon Vijaya forced Kuveni to leave him with her two children by him. Kuveni went to her people and they slew her probably for bringing shame to the clan by co-habiting with a man of a foreign country. But the two children were spared.
They grew up and said to have become the ancestors of the Pulindas – the Veddas, descendants of the ancient inhabitants of today, as the story goes.
Vijaya and the Pandu Princess were married and duly consecrated as the first King and Queen of Sri Lanka.
Vijaya did not have a son and he died without an heir.
He was said to have reigned with perfect justice for thirty eight years.
Upatissa 445 To 444 BC
He was the Chief Minister of Vijaya and succeeded the latter as regent as Vijaya died without an heir. He governed for one year until the arrival of Panduvasdeva the younger son of Vijaya’s brother Sumitta.
Panduvasdeva 444 – 414 BC
Prince Panduvasdeva arrived with 32 noble men. Bhadda Kacchana, daughter of King of Pandu, also arrived with 32 female attendants. Panduvasadeva and Bhadda Kacchana were married and duly consecrated as the second King and Queen of Sri Lanka.
The King had 10 sons and one daughter Unmada Chitta. It was predicted that the son to be born to Unmada Citta would destroy his uncles and under the King’s orders she was kept in solitary confinement.
She later married Dighamini and gave birth to a baby boy. The boy was brought up in hiding and was named Pandukabhaya.
King died after a peaceful reign of 30 years. His seat of reign was Vijithapura. The reservoir Abeya-wewa was built during his reign. This is considered to be the world’s first man made reservoir. ABHAYA 414 – 394 BC
Tissa 394 – 377 BC
ABHAYA the eldest son of King Panduvasdeva succeeded. He was deposed and Tissa was appointed regent. Tissa was slain in battle by Pandukhabaya who ascended the throne.
The Portuguese Period
In 1505 the Portuguese, under Lorennco de Almeida established friendly relations with the king of Kotte and gained, for Portugal, a monopoly in the spice and cinnamon trade, which soon became of enormous importance in Europe. Attempts by Kotte to utilize the strength and protection of the Portuguese only resulted in Portugal taking over and ruling not only their regions, but the rest of the islandas well, apart form the central highlands around Kandy.
Because the highlands were remote and inaccessible, the kings of Kandy were always able to defeat the attempts by the Portuguese to annex them, and on a number of occasions drove the Portuguese right back down to the coast.
The Dutch Period
Attempts by Kandy to enlist Dutch help in expelling the Portuguese only resulted in the substitution of one European power for another. By 1658, 153 years after the first Portuguese contact, the Dutch took control over the costal areas of the Island.
During their 140-year-rule the Dutch, like Portuguese, were involved in repeated unsuccessful attempts to bring Kandy under their control. The Dutch were much more interested in trade and profits than the Portuguese, who spent a lot of efforts spreading their religion and extending their physical control.
The British Period
The French revolution resulted in a major shake-up among the European powers and in 1796 the Dutch were easily supplanted by the British, who in 1815 also won the control of the kingdom of Kandy, becoming the first European power to rule the whole island. But in 1802, Sri Lanka became a Crown Colony and in 1818 a unified administration for the island was set up.
Soon the country was dotted with coffee, cinnamon and coconut plantations and a network of roads and Railways were built to handle this new economic activity. English became the official language, and is still widely spoken.
Coffee was the main crop and the backbone of the colonial economy, but the occurence of a leaf blight virtually wiped it out in the 1870s and the plantations quickly switched over to tea or rubber.
Today Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest tea exporter. The British were unable to persuade the Sinhalese to work cheaply and willingly on the plantations, so they imported large number of South Indian labourers from South India. Sinhalese peasants in the hill country lost land to the estates.
Between WW I and WW II, political stirrings started to push Sri Lanka towards eventual independence from Britain but in a considerably more peaceful and low-key manner than in India. At the end of WW II it was evident that independence would come very soon, in the wake of independence for Sri Lanka’s neighbour. In February 1948 Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was still known, became an independent member of the British Commonwealth.
| Architecture of Sri Lanka
The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC–1017) through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815). Sinhalese architecture also displays many ancient North Indian influences. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after it was introduced to the island in the 3rd century BC, and ancient Sri Lankan architecture was mainly religious, with more than 25 styles of Buddhist monasteries. Significant buildings include the stupas of Jetavanaramaya and Ruwanvelisaya in the Anuradhapura kingdom and further in the Polonnaruwa Kingdom (11th–13th centuries). The palace of Sigiriya is considered a masterpiece of ancient architecture and ingenuity, and the fortress in Yapahuwa and the Temple of the tooth in Kandy are also notable for their architectural qualities. Ancient Sri Lankan architecture is also significant to sustainability, notably Sigiriya which was designed as an environmentally friendly structure.
Monasteries were designed using the Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra, a manuscript which outlines the layout of the structure. The text is in Sanskrit but written in Sinhala script. The script is believed to be from the 5th century, It is exclusively about Buddhist monasteries and is clearly from the Mahayana school. The text shows much originality and there is nothing similar in the existing Indian treatises, which deal only with Hindu temples
Buddhist architecture in Sri Lanka
The earliest evidence of rudimentary cave temples are found in Mihintale, a unique feature in these caves was the use of a drip ledge carved along the top edge of the rock ceiling which stopped rain water running into the cave. With time doors, windows and walls of brick or stone were added. The roof and walls were plastered white and finished with decorative paintings, these are evident in the cave temples of Dambulla.
Cave complexes of Dambulla, Situlpahuwa, Mulkirigala are significant cave temples which demonstrate rudimentary architectural developments of the island. The Kaludiya Pokuna, Mihintale cave temple was constructed with brick walls, granite window openings, and ceilings. The Gal vihara, Polonnaruwa and the cave temples of Dambulla were initially constructed as cave temples, later on the cave temples were converted to image houses.
Dagobas or stupas
The dagobas or stupas of Sri Lanka are significant to the architectural and engineering development in the island, stupas designed and constructed in Sri Lanka are the largest brick structures known to the pre-modern world. Demala Maha Seya, which was never completed, had a circumference of 2,011 feet (613 m), Jetavanaramaya at the time of its completion was the largest stupa constructed in any part of the world at 122 m in height. Jetavanaramaya was also the third tallest building in the ancient world, Abhayagiri Dagaba (370 ft) and Ruwanwelisaya (300 ft) were also significant constructions of the ancient world.
The construction of stupas were considered acts of great merit, the purpose of stupas were mainly to enshrine relics of Buddha. The design specifications are consistent within most of the stupas, entrances to stupas are laid out so that their centre lines point to the relic chambers. Stupa design it is admired for its structural perfection and stability, stupas such as Jetavanarama, Abhayagiri, and Mirisaveti Stupa were in the shape of a paddy heap. Other shapes such as the bubble(Ruwanweli), pot and bell developed later, it is suggested that the stupa at Nadigamvila was in the shape of an onion.
An ornamented vahalkada was added to stupa design around the 2nd century; the earliest is at Chaitya. The four vahalkadas face the cardinal points, ornamented with figures of animals, flowers, swans and dwarfs. The pillars on either side of the vahalkada carry figures of lions, elephants, horses or bulls, depending on the direction of the structure.[
The stupas were covered with a coating of lime plaster, plaster combinations changed with the requirements of the design, items used included lime, clay, sand, pebbles, crushed seashells, sugar syrup, white of egg, coconut water, plant resin, drying oil, glues and saliva of white ants. The fine plaster at Kiri Vehera used small pebbles, crushed seashells mixed with lime and sand were used in the stupas from the 5th to 12th centuries.
The vatadage is considered to be one of ancient Sri Lanka's most prolific architectural creations; this design represented a changing perspective of stupa design independently within the island. Early provincial vatadages have been in the form of a square later it developed into a circular form enclosing the dagoba.Polonnaruwa, Medirigiriya and Tiriyaya vatadages still have their circles of slender, graceful pillars. The vatadage roof was of a sophisticated design unique to ancient Sri Lanka, it is a three-tiered conical roof, spanning a height of 12–15 m, without a centre post, and supported by pillars of diminishing height. The weight was taken by a ring beam supported on the inner row of stone columns, the radiating rafters met in a cartwheel-like design. The ornamental qualities of the Polonnaruwa vatadage are highly valued and scholars maintain that the Polonnaruwa vatadage represents the best architectural work of the Polonnaruwa period.
The meditation houses found in the forest monasteries in Ritigala and Arankele are unique to Sri Lanka, Each house consist of two raised platforms, linked to each other by a monolithic stone bridge. The outer platform is open to the sky, larger and higher than the inner platform. These meditation houses achieved a very high degree of perfection in their architecture, the design combined square and rectangular shapes and yet maintained symmetry, indicating the architects' sophisticated knowledge of geometry. The stone masonry is also of a very high standard. The basements of these buildings were constructed of monumental blocks of stone, cut to different sizes, carefully dressed and very finely fitted together. The bridge connecting the two platforms was formed out of a single slab of stone. Some such slabs measured 15 feet (5 m) by 13 feet (4 m). The sides have been cut with precision where the joints between the slab and the stone moulding of the platforms are hardly perceptible.
Vaulted roof shrine
The brick shrine with vaulted roof, as seen at Thuparama, Lankatilaka and Tivanka Pilimage, is also considered unique to Sri Lanka. The Thuparama is almost intact today and gives an idea of the manner in which the vaulted roof was created. The principles of the true arch were known to the ancient Sri Lankans, but the horizontal arch was considered a safer method of construction.
The nine-storied Lovamahapaya (3rd century BCE) would have been an elegant building. It had an exposed wooden frame supported on stone pillars. It was plastered in white, with shining copper roof tiles and a pinnacle at its apex. It had lightning conductors or chumbakam made of amber and tourmaline. Its rafters were made of talipot palm. It rose to a height of 162 feet (49 m) and had approximately 179,316 square feet (16,659 m2) of floor space. It could seat 9000 monks. Roland Silva remarked in 1984 that such an extensive floor space would stagger the designers in Sri Lanka "even today". The dominant element in these buildings, was the tiled roof supported by timber beams and rafters. The roofs were tiled, from as early as the 3rd century BCE, with red, white, yellow, turquoise and brown tiles. There were also tiles made of bronze.
Five royal residences have been identified. They are Vijayabahu's palace in the inner city at Anuradhapura, the palaces of Nissanka Malla and Parakramabahu in Polonnaruwa, the palace of Sugala in Galabadda in the Uva province, and Parakramabahu's palace in Panduwasnuwara near Hettipola, when he was ruling over Malaya rata.
Ground plan All the palaces had the same ground plan. Each was set in a rectangular area enclosed by galleries with an entrance from the east. A spacious courtyard in front acted as a reception room, where sitting was not allowed. A flight of steps led to a central building where there was an imposing pillared hall with a dais at the end. Around the royal complex were over fifty small cells, in two or three rows. The hall in Nissanka Malla's palace was 133 feet (41 m) by 63 feet (19 m). The floors of the upper storey in Parakramabahu's palace were of concrete. [Panduwasnuwara] palace had good provision for ventilation and there were soakage pits for drainage.
There was a palace on top of Sigiriya rock as well. The outlines, layout and several detailed features of this Sky Palace are still visible. There was an upper palace that ran parallel to the lower one, but at a much higher elevation. It had a viewing gallery. The innermost royal abode, which was originally a storeyed structure, had a magnificent 360 degree view of the city gardens and countryside below. There was a series of successive courtyards, chambers, and terraces connected by stairs and paved pathways.
Kuttam Pokuna in Polonnaruwa provides one of the best examples of the construction of a royal bath. A flight of long narrow steps led to an oblong shaped pond that had graduated gangways. The water was conducted by underground pipelines from the canal nearby and led into the bath by two makara gargoyles. A stone water lock acted as water locking valve and an exit for used water. There is also a now-ruined changing room. Other magnificent pool designs in Anuradhapura era such as "Twin Ponds" Kuttam Pokuna, "lotus Pond" Nelum pokuna, "hot water pond" janthagara Pokona, ath Pokuna-built for water storage and "black water pool" Kaludiya Pokuna are significant. Also there are significant series of ponds and pools which contains water fountains at the Sigiriya citadel, which marvels the hydro engineering in the ancient Sri Lanka.
Polonnaruwa also has the remains of two magnificent audience halls. They are the public audience halls of Parakramabahu and council chamber of Nissanka Malla. Parakramabahu's council chamber was a three-tiered oblong structure built on a broad terrace, facing north, and consisted of an entrance provided with two flights of steps, having a gangway in between at ground level. The pillars in the council halls at Polonnaruwa are square at the bottom, octagonal in the middle and square again at the top.
Some idea of hospital architecture can be inferred from the monastic hospitals at Mihintale and Polonnaruwa. This hospital plan can be seen at the National Museum, Colombo. There was an inner and outer court and the rectangular inner court had a series of cells, toilets and bath, with an exit at one end. One cell had a medicinal bath. Alahena had long dormitories instead of cells. The outer court accommodated a refectory, a hot water bath, storerooms and dispensary. A wall cordoned off the hospitals. The provision of two open courts in addition to windows ensured maximum ventilation and free circulation of air within the building itself.
A house dated to 450 BCE, built of warichchi (wattle and daub) has been discovered near Kirindi oya. Another has been found at Adalla, Wirawila, and at Valagampattu evidence has been discovered of houses dating from 50 CE to 400 CE. The kitchen utensils are still there. In medieval times, the rich had large houses built of stone, mortar and lime, with tiled roofs and whitewashed walls. There were rooms and apartments with doors and windows. The windows had fanlights. The doors had keys, locks, and hinges. The houses had compounds or courtyards and balconies. There were separate rooms for pounding paddy, a storeroom or atuva for paddy, and sheds for keeping chariots. Latrines are also mentioned. All houses however had small kitchens.
Design and construction
There were architects to attend to the built environment. A cave inscription refers to a "city architect". Building was done scientifically, using superior instruments. For example, some stone slabs were so precisely cut that the joints are hardly visible and nothing could be inserted between the slabs. Ashley de Vos points out that this would require sophisticated instruments even today. Lifting and placing of slender stone slabs, twenty feet long, would have needed knowledge of structural mechanics. De Vos also suggests that Sri Lanka may have had the first pre-fabricated buildings in the world. Some sections of the monastic buildings were prepared separately and then fitted together.
There was artistry in addition to technical finesse. This is illustrated in the elegantly executed stone pillars dating from the 8th century. They are in various designs. The lotus-stalk pillars of the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya are unique in South Asian architecture. Lime mortar was used in brickwork only when there was a structural risk such as a vault or an arch.
There were island pavilions surrounded by water called Sitala Maligawa. There were ponds with lotuses. The royal gardens in Polonnaruwa had dozens of individually named ponds in different shapes and sizes. Sigiriya had an octagonal pond. Polonnaruwa had one resembling the coils of a serpent and another like an open lotus. Kuttam Pokuna in Anuradhapura had a graduated series of ponds going from shallow to deep. Essential facilities were not forgotten: the Nandana Gardens had a large gleaming bathroom.
There was an air cooling method in the ancient period. A dried buffalo skin was fixed above the roof of the building. Water dripped onto it from several pipes, creating the effect of rain and sending in a cooling breeze. Pictures on walls were changed according to the season; cooling pictures for the hot season and warming pictures for the cool season.
Builders worked with a variety of materials, such as brick, stone and wood. Corbelled and circular brick arches, vaults and domes were constructed. Rock faces were used as supporting walls for buildings. The platform carrying the mirror wall at Sigiriya and the brick flight of steps stand on steep rock. Around the 6th century, the builders had moved from limestone to the harder gneiss. The vatadage in Polonnaruwa had walls that were constructed of stone to the height of the upper storey. The lowest step of an imposing granite stairway that led to the upper storey of Parakramabahu's palace can still be seen. Meticulous detailing had been done in the leaf huts used by the forest monks of the 5th century.
It is important to note, however, that the ancient architecture was not stone architecture. The stone remains seen are misleading. It was primarily timber architecture, with mud or masonry walls. There were sophisticated wooden buildings from the 3rd century. Sigiriya had an elaborate gatehouse made of timber and brick masonry with multiple tiled roofs. The massive timber doorposts remaining today indicate this.
The timber carried the load. Frames were made out of whole trunks of trees. The gatehouse at the eastern entrance to Anuradhapura built in the 4th century BC used whole trees. The palaces at Polonnaruwa and Panduwasnuwara show vertical crevices in the brickwork where wooden columns, consisting of entire trunks of trees, carried the load of the upper floors and roof. These openings still retain the spur stones upon which the wooden column once stood.
The text of the Manjusri silpa describes methods for the cutting and seasoning of wood. Mature trees were selected and cut in the new moon when the sugar content in timber was lower, so that destructive woodboring insects were not attracted to the timber. The stone remains show that sound carpentry techniques were employed. The axe, adze and chisel were the common tools used in timber work. Saddharmarat-navali mentions two practices of carpentry. Oil was applied to timber to prevent decay, and wood was heated to straighten it.
With the arrival of Western colonists to Sri Lanka, they established their own forms of architecture to the island. This is evident in the architecture of the period as well as in forms on influence in modern architecture.
Very few buildings of the Portuguese era survives, but many building from the Dutch era could be found on the coastal parts of the island. For example, the old town of Galle and its fortifications built by the Dutch in the year 1663 make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Historic buildings, such as old churches, can be found in many Sri Lankan cities and towns.
Many British-era buildings can be found at Colombo Fort and various other parts of Colombo.
Many important historic buildings were built by the colonial governments. These were often built in a European architectural style that was in fashion at the time, such as the Palladian, Renaissance Classicism, or Neo-classica