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DateLine Sunday, 3 June 2007

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Cultural Treasures



Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya

 The Ruwanveliseya

The Samadhi Statute

Thuparama

Polonnaruwa Rock Temple

Sigiriya Frescoes

The Cultural Triangle has been identified by UNESCO in keeping with its mission of preserving the 'World Heritage Sites'. The sites that come under the Cultural Triangle are Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy.

Located geographically in such a manner that when joined by three straight lines, the area forms into a triangle and that's how it came to be recognised. The projects initiated have a multi dimensional impact on our country.

Basically it helps to conduct archaeological excavations, which is still on, to further uncover hidden cultural treasures which throws light on our links with ancient civilisation. The Cultural Triangle provides information to interested parties to engage in historical explorations and offers facilities to conduct experiments, to determine the scientific nature of the archaeological findings.

Also provided are work study programmes on various aspects of archaeology. Above all the Cultural Triangle works on the project of finding ongoing museum facilities to exhibit the findings and to preserve it for the future.

Anuradhapura was the citadel of Buddhist Civilisation. This kingdom was ruled by 109 kings beginning from King Devanampiyatissa upto the reign of King Mahinda, the 5th for a period of 14 centuries. Among number of historical sites the following takes precedence.

Srimaha Bodhiya the sacred Bo Tree held in veneration by all Buddhists in Sri Lanka. This is a branch from the right side of the original Bo Tree which gave sanctuary to Lord Buddha during the final phase of his attainment. This Bo sapling was brought to Sri Lanka, in the third century BC by Bhikkuni Sangamittha, the daughter of Emperor Asoka of India.

The Samadhi Statue (Lord Buddha in Meditation) is acclaimed to be a masterpiece in sculpture by international scholars.

Thuparamaya was the first Dagaba built by the first Buddhist King of Sri Lanka, King Devanampiyatissa.

The Ruwanweliseya is supposed to be the largest Chaithya built by the first National hero of Sri Lanka King Dutugamunu. It is believed that the relics of Lord Buddha are enshrined in Ruwanweliseya Chaithya.

After the decline of the Anuradhapura kingdom Polonnaruwa was ruled by 11 Kings and Queens for 200 years. The major task of the Kings was to restore the Cultural Heritage devastated by the South Indian Kings who invaded Sri Lanka after the fall of Anuradhapura.

Parakrama Samudhraya is a towering symbol of the prosperity of Polonnaruwa Era. Then the Rock temple, which is carved on a large rock 168 feet long. From the foreground 15 feet are chiselled into the matrix of the rock to accommodate the carved statues of Mahabrana and Lord Vishnu.

The four Buddhist statues are carved on the face of the rock depicting four postures of Lord Buddha. The largest of four sculpted statues is seldom seen in Buddhist architecture. Lord Buddha in upright position with arms crossed and placed on chest with open fists.

Finally the stone inscriptions where Royal edicts inscribed on them can be seen on the foot of the ruins. The King's Palace, ponds where the Royal household held their aquatic games can be seen among other historical sites.

Belligerency and unorthodox beliefs drove King Kashyapa to build a fortress on Sigiriya rock in 477AD. He built his palace in the precincts of the fortress to make reign a secure one.

King Kashyapa's ascendancy to the throne was controversial due to his pedigree. The entrance to the fortress is through the mouth of a lion only the paws of the lion can be seen today. The steps leading to the summit of the rock is carved from mass of the Sigiriya rock. Ruins of the King's Palace can be seen extending from the north to the south of the rock.

Sigiriya frescos are an epic art, which can be compared to Ajantha mural paintings of India on its artistic merit. Sigiriya painting demonstrate the calibre of artists that are existed in ancient Sri Lanka. The colour mixing and raw materials used has given the painting a living and a tasting image. Critics are of the opinion that Ajantha paintings inspired our artists and these paintings belong to two periods of history.

Dambulla holds a pre-eminent place in Buddhist art and sculpture. There are five cave temple complexes in South Asia. There are almost 2000 square meters of rock and wall paintings in this cave temple complex.

There are sculpted Buddha statues, statues of various Kings and deities in all caves. This rock cave temple complex was built by King Wattagamini Abhaya during the 3rd century BC and is more than 200 years old. Major events in the history of Sri Lanka are painted in these caves.

MP

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