Vavunia has a number of historic temples and sites belonging to the Pre Christian era up to the 7 Century AD. Vavuniya Madukanda temple is one of them.
Madukanda village is located in the Vavuniya District and is about 3 miles off Vavuniya town along Horowpothana road. The village itself has historic significance. One can find old Madukanda walauwa with its court where the last Rate Mahaththaya resided.
The importance of the temple goes to various eras in history; this village was the birthplace of Nandimitra who was the earlier giant (General) with King Elara and subsequently turned towards King Dutugemunu. The other importance is that, this is one of the places where Hemamali and Dantakumaru stayed with the sacred tooth relic. It was also the learning centre for Buddhist monks. Still one can witness the two meditating (Sakman maluwa) .
The present temple is the only place for the Advance level students to learn the subjects and sit for the Advance level exam on Art subjects. There are no other places for the student in Vavuniya to sit for the Advance level in the Sinhala Medium.
The village is closely knitted with the temple. Advice on their day to day family matters, agricultural development and social development comes through the leadership of the dedicated, educated priests in the temple.
This place is a common place of rest for the pilgrims and travellers to Jaffna and Vavuniya. The temple provides accommodation and other basic facilities to pilgrims and other traveller's free of charge.
The construction of the temple started during the era of Nandimitra. They have brought lime for construction from Chunnakam. Nandsimitra was a nature lover. He had a flower garden at Kokilai to supply necessary flowers to the temples in the area. There had been a huge Bo tree adjoining the villa. Bodhi villa later became became Bodhivill and subsequently 'Pothuvil'. There is a village close to the area called 'Maha Kachchikudal' which had been famous for copper. Also there is a village called 'Thapaswela the name derived from the 'Thambawela'. There are lots of archeological evidences found in Thapaswela to show that there was a successful copper industry at Mahakachchikudai area during Nandimitra's time.
Further to that, there are about 3-rock inscriptions in and around the area. The most famous one is Thonigala rock inscription, which describes the Madukanda temple. Amongst the 83 rock inscriptions 58 belong to the era of Nandimitra while the others belong to the fifth Century and 12th Century. Among the 83 rock inscriptions the Sinhalese Language is also visible, which gives evidence of Sinhalese settlements from around 200 BC.
This area has faced tremendous cultural, social and religious changes due to the arrival of the 'Tooth Relic" from India (Kalinga Deshaya). King Guhaseeva was the ruling king at the time. His daughter was Hemamali and son-in-low was Prince Dantha who brought the sacred tooth relic to Sri Lanka. The village Madukanda got its name due to the construction launched for the reception of the sacred tooth relic in this area. During this time Minister Deva was ruling the Vanni region. Also RL Brohier and Codrington had elaborated this in their research papers.
The evidence of the first bank in Madukanda, too goes back to the fifth Century. The evidence is coming from the same Thonigala rock inscription, and that the bank had been giving 50% interest for their deposits shows the level of development and economic status of the area. The bank was specially designed for the requirements of farmers.
There are various forms of unidentified buildings and some of the advanced water distribution systemy are still functioning. There are four ponds for bathing. All the arts depicted on the walls, belong to the "Guptha Sampradya" culture in the country during the time.
The temple is still in need of attention to take this valuable heritage to the world. The copper mining can be a very lucrative industry in the area due to the copper deposits found. Also, it can be a profitable economic venture to develop this under developed area.
Awareness programmes can be launched by the Department of Archaeology or Ministry of Tourism to boost the local and foreign tourists to the area and to educate them on the proud history that the country has.
by Lieutenant Colonel Chandana Weerakoon
February 3, 2007