Archaeological Buddhist sites on East coast | Sunday Observer

Archaeological Buddhist sites on East coast

2 August, 2020

String of Archaeological sites on the East coast and other articles

Author - Dr. P.G. Punchihewa

The author is unique about his writing as it spans two generations; the young who are struggling to be like him and the not so-young to achieve writing like him. Between the two, Dr. P.G. Punchihewa stands tall and steady, inspiring the literary world. Having the talent to write on diverse subjects, he has mixed and blended some appealing essays on a cross section of literary culture.

The introduction of essays in general context and the development of critical writing about the Modern School over the last century sadly lack the exciting critique in its contemporary development. The inspiration for such taste must develop throughout history.

Buddhist heritage

Dr. Punchihewa, a Buddhist scholar and philosopher of international repute, carefully opts for subjects he is aware and likes best. “String of Archaeological Sites in the East Coast and Other Articles” comes naturally and covers archaeological sites in most of Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. He is adept at critiquing texts in English and Sinhala with a comprehensive knowledge.

It is a challenge to review his book and doing so, I had to grasp the key points designated as Modern School and the difference in Romanticism that kept propped up because of its manifestation around the world and how lustily writers accept its norms. Yet Dr. Punchihewa remains a Modern School writer with contemporary, historical methods and aesthetic theories.

Buddhist cultural heritage may have been born in the East Coast contrary to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Mihintale. Dr. Punchihewa has separated the two carefully to avoid confusion.

An amazing critic and reviewer rolled into one which he occasionally enjoys doing beside his first love of writing children’s books. The focus on modern critical thinking is aimed not only to inform but also to stimulate and to reflect the excitement that comes easy on English and the Arts, but not so easy on subjects, such as archaeology etc.

THE COVER PAGE - Geographically arranged are eight archeological sites:

Velgamvehera, Neelagiriya, Mudumhaviharaya, Tiriyaya, Pasana Pabbata, Lanka Patuna, Magulmahaviharaya and Kuchchaveli

VELGAMVEHERA is about 10 kilometres to the North West of Trincomalee. Spread over the temple premises are archaeological remains which include among others, three stupas and a shrine room with a reclining Buddha statue, a pond and other artefacts. Velgamvehera, a Buddhist temple, had Hindu influence.

PASANA PABBATA RAJAMAHA VIHARAYA - Sixty kilometres from Trincomalee is the little known Pasana Pabbata Rajamaha Viharaya close to Verugal Aru. According to an inscription found there, the temple had been built over 2000 years ago by King Mahadathinkamahanage (A.D. 9-21) of the Anuradha Kingdom. There are six inscriptions carved in ancient Brahami script referring to a flourishing commercial civilisation in the East. One inscription refers to a deposit of 500 gold coins by a minister named Rakha who sought to ensure the interest from the deposit spent for temple maintenance. A number of inscriptions with the king’s name have been found in several places in the Eastern province close to the sea. The king had exempted the temple lands from the land tenure imposed on the people of the area. Situated on a rocky outcrop with a commanding view of the surrounding area, LTTE terrorists had used this to have their eastern radio transmission station.

SERUVILA RAJAMAHA VIHARAYA is 38 Kilometres from Trincomalee on the Mutur-Verugal road. Ven Dambagasara Sumangala Thera re-discovered the dagoba and assisted by the Archaeological Department, restored the stupa.

According to Dhatuvamsa written in the 13th century, King Kavantissa during the latter part of his reign from Magama, constructed the stupa with the support of the local rulers. Dhatuvamsa states that Buddha’s collar bone was enshrined here. After completion of the stupa the king made arrangements for its upkeep and returned to Magama.

Dr. P.G. Punchihewa had his early education at the Central College, Telijjwila and Ananda Collage, Colombo and entered the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya. He passed out with Honours in Sinhala with Archaeology as subsidiary and was selected to the then Ceylon Civil Service. He served in a number of senior positions in the public service as the District Secretary of Moneragala, Puttalama Kalutara, Chairman Coconut Development Authority and retired from the position of the Secretary, Ministry of Coconut Industries. He was elected the Executive Director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, an Intergovernmental Organisation of 14 countries, based in Indonesia and served for 15 years. He has authored over 40 books, which include fiction, translations, research, travels. He received the State Literary Award twice, for the best childern’s story book and best translation. Punchihewa has his Ph.D. from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Diploma in Rural Social Development from the University of Reading U.K.