- The lost capital of Dambadeniya -
It is not often that we hear of the 13th. century kingdom of Dambadeniya. Recently traveling the excellent road that links Negombo to Kurunegala we decided to drop in at the Dambadeniya Wijayasundararamaya.
As we walked into its modern precincts, a board indicated that here was included the ancient Dalada maligawa . The two storied quaint Vihara mandiraya set in the middle of a cluster of modern buildings is believed to have been the old Dalada maligawa. The wooden up stair part of the building can be ascended by a steep precariously slanting stairway and you will be treated to a modest shrine room.
An ancient stairway, the eastern boundary wall, some caves, several ponds, clay ringed wells have been found at the summit of the hill adjacent to the temple. But access to these are difficult.
Sadly little remains of the ancient buildings of the Dambadeniya period. This is said to be because most of the work during this period was of brick. But a few stone images, carvings have been found and are exhibited in the temple precincts.
It was Vijeya Bahu III who first made Dambadeniya his capital. The Kalinga king Magha was ruling at Polonnaruwa then. However Dambadeniya's golden age dawned with the accession to the throne of Parakramabahu II the eldest son of Vijeya Bahu III.. The learned Parakrama buhu II titled Panditha Parakramabahu is said to have been one of the greatest scholars to have ruled ancient Sri Lanka. The great epic Kavisilumina was his main work.
His rule witnessed a renaissance in art, literature, education and extended even to religious, political and economic regeneration.
King Parakramabahu II also regained Polonnaruwa and successfully defeated the challenge of a fresh invader Chandrabahu son of the first ruler in Jaffna.. And thus except for the extreme north Sri Lanka was once again unified under one king.
Parakramabahu II ruled in Dambadeniya although he was crowned in Polonnaruwa.
Temples which were ravaged in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa by the invaders were restored. The tooth relic which was hidden in Kotmalai was brought to Dambadeniya and housed in a specially constructed three storied temple.
As such even though few monuments remain to testify to Dambadeniya’s past it is said that there are enough literary works like the Pujavaliya, the Dambadeniya Sirita that tell of the grandeur of the Dambadeniya period.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
February 4, 2007