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Home > Heritage > Galgane (Galge) at Dondra

Galgane (Galge) at Devinuwara

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A very interesting structure is found almost opposite the southern most milepost on a short detour inland less than 500 m from the Devinuwara Raja Maha Viharaya and the Upulvan Devalaya

One building stands alone and aloof built entirely of granite blocks. Aptly called Galge, it is a rectangular building with a small door in front and no windows or other openings.

It was reported in an Archaeological Department report that a small and simple, but architecturally chaste, monument called Galge or Galgane at Dondra was first noticed by E.R. Ayrton in 1914 and the site was declared an Archeaological Reserve in 1927.

The report gave further details regarding its conservation and said that Archeological Commissioner A.M. Hocart had an intention of conserving the monument but could not realize that intention. He however recovered several stones belonging to the monument from houses of recent construction in the neighborhood.

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The structure found crumbling in the forties was buttressed in more than one place but without much avail. Heavy rains in 1947 brought down a part of the structure and this necessitated conservation to be done without any further delay. But the fabric of the monument was so badly disturbed that the only method of conservation possible was to dismantle the whole structure and to rebuild it.

The work of conservation was begun in February 1947 and completed in November of the same year. In the course of the work, it was discovered that the monument had been re - constructed in ancient times after its original construction. The two parts of the shrine, the sanctum and the antechamber, are blended into one simple but pleasing architectural unit.

It also mentioned that Professor Paranavithana attributes the monument to the 7th century and calls it a shrine of God Upulvan, He says that it is the result of an attempt at evolving a style of stone architecture of Ceylon which however, did not lead to the creation of a distinctive local style.

The Handbook for the Ceylon Traveler, referring to this structure, says that both faces of the walls are of finely chiseled slabs of granite and are perfectly jointed.

The shrine, a little over 26 feet long has its ornamentation restricted to the doorway. Whatever cult object there may have been in the garbha-grha, which together with the ante-chamber forms a single complex, had been spirited away years ago, leaving no evidence of the faith to which this shrine was dedicated.

Other scholars have described it as being reminiscent of the Hindu shrines at Polonnaruwa. It is also believed to be the only one of its type and, according to some scholars, it probably could be the first stone building constructed in the island.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror, September 12, 2004

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Updated August 24, 2007
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