- Medirigiriya Stupa House -
This site situated in a beautiful surrounding has a history going in to the pre-Christian times. The brami characters found on the bricks and the some of the stone carvings is an indication of the long history of this site. The first reference to this site in the chronicles is during the king Kanittha Tissa (192-194) of the Anuradhapura Era. Later many kings have contributed to this complex and finally after the invasion of Maga this site too was abandoned when the Sinhalese migrated to the southern parts unable to withstand the torture.
This site was later discovered in 1897 in the middle of a thick jungle by Mr H.C.P Bell and he immediately realised the importance of the site calling it an architectural jewel. Initially the restoration work was done by mainly Muslim labourers as the Buddhist labourers did not want to work at a Buddhist temple for money. This they felt was a sin. This restoration work was finally completed in 1945 and was open to the public giving a glimpse of what this temple would have looked over 1000 years ago.
In 1937, 600 acres were reserved for this archaeological site due to the large number of ruins found in this area. But when this area started to populate with people migrating from various parts of the country, they gradually started destroying and removing these invaluable ruins for sale and as well as to remove any signs of ruins and capture the land. Today only 250 acres remains of the original 600 acres and none of the ruins which filled the landscape around the Vatadage.
Vatadage is a unique architectural building which completely housed the Stupa. These building were constructed at the very early periods as the Stupas in this time were quite small. Remains of such Stupa houses can be found at the following places:
This Vatadage at Medirigiriya is built on a small rock. The entrance to this is on the northern side. At the bottom of the staircase is a massive stone frame. This is 9’9” feet tall and 4’9” feet in breath. After climbing 27 stone steps you come to a resting area. Thereafter there are 4 more steps to reach the Stupa house. Around the Stupa house is a stone wall which is about one meter in height. On the four sides are four beautifully carved Buddha statues in the seating position. In the centre there has been the Stupa which is in ruins today.
The roof of the Stupa house has been built on three concentric circles of stone pillars most of which still can be seen in the original state. The inner most circle of 16 pillars are 17 feet in height and the other two circles are 16 and 9 feet in height and 20 and 32 in numbers respectively. There are many opinions of what the roof would have looked like by many archaeologists. Some even believe there never has been a roof considering the sizes and the number of pillars. Anyway this site remains a one of the best examples of local craftsmanship of the ancient Sri Lanka.
Distances from Colombo to Medirigiriya through Minneriya
February 3, 2007
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