Marvels of Sri Lanka

Adam's Bridge

The Indian Sanskrit epic Ramayana by Valmiki speaks of a bridge, Setubandhanam, a bridge over the ocean connecting India with Sri Lanka, the land of Ravana, the ruler of men and god. The epic attributes the building of the bridge to the ape army of Rama, who was assisting him in his war against Ravana to win back his wife, Sita.

True to the legendary epic a bridge, manmade or natural, did exist between Sri Lanka not so long ago, interconnecting Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka, made with chain of limestone shoals surrounded by a shallow sea of one to 10 meter depth.

The thirty km long bridge, which separates the Gulf of Mannarfrom the Palk Strait, was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel. The Rameshwaram temple records suggest that Rama's Bridge was completely above sea level until it was destroyed in a cyclone in AD 1480.

The bridge and its surrounding sea was first mentioned in the western worlds in "historical works in the 9th century" by IbnKhordadbeh in his Book of Roads and Kingdoms in 850 AD; referring to it as Set Bandhai or "Bridge of the Sea".

The earliest map that calls this area by the name Adam's bridge was prepared by a British cartographer in 1804, in reference to an Abrahamic myth, in which Adam used the bridge to reach a mountain, which the British identified with Adam's Peak, where he stood repentant on one foot for 1,000 years, leaving a large hollow mark resembling a footprint.

Wrapped in legend and historical misjudgments, a diverse range of opinion and confusion exist about the nature and origin of this structure even today. In the 19thcentury, two prevalent theories explained the formation of the structure. One considered it to be formed by a process of accretion and rising of the land, while the other surmised that it was formed by the breaking away of Sri Lanka from the Indian mainland.

In the same confused manner Studies have variously described the structure as a chain of shoals, coral reefs, a ridge formed in the region owing to thinning of the earth's crust, a double tombolo and a sand spit or a series of barrier islands. The age of the bridge had also been calculated as 125,000 years to 3500 years, which incidentally is also the age of the Ramayana.

Meanwhile A team from the Centre for Remote Sensing (CRS) of Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi led by Professor S.M. Ramasamy in 2003 claimed that the, "Rama's bridge could only be 3,500 years old" and, "as the carbon dating of the beaches roughly matches the dates of Ramayana, its link to the epic needs to be explored". However, one needs to note that the surveys which have come out with 3500 age for the bridge are based on the studies conducted on corals grown on the bridge itself and it has been argued that this represents only the age of what was measured, which is the corals. The bridge underneath the corals has been dated back to hundreds of thousands of years earlier.

A former Director of the Geological Survey of India, S. Badrinarayanan claims that such a natural formation would be impossible; He justifies the same by the presence of loose sands layer under corals for entire stretch as corals normally form above rocks and not over sand layers.

Due to its connection with the Legend of Rama and Hindu belief is that the bridge was created by Shri Rama and ShriLakshman with the assistance of Lord Hanuman and the ape army to reach Lanka in order to find Shri Rama's wife Sita who was kidnapped by Ravana, Hindus hold the Adam's Bridge in reverence, abhorring the Indian government's proposal to dredge the bridge to create a shipping canal, known as Sethusamudram.

In 2001, the Government of India approved a multi-million dollar Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project that aims to create a ship channel across the Palk Strait by dredging the shallow ocean floor near Dhanushkodi. The channel is expected to cut over 400 km off the voyage around the island of Sri Lanka. This proposed channel's current alignment requires dredging through Rama's Bridge, a proposal, which was met with strong opposition by the Hindus of India.

Contradicting the Hindu sentiment Sri Lankans believe that the bridge was a construction of Ravana himself employing floating rocks, the rocks made of weightless corals, as claimed by Sri Lankan historians hold that the bridge was a collapsible structure made to cross the sea to reach India, when required.
Avukana Buddha statue

The Avukana statue is a standing statue of the Buddha near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka. The statue, which has a height of more than 40 feet (12 m), has been carved out of a large granite rock face during the 5th century. It depicts a variation of the Abhaya mudra, and the closely worn robe is elaborately carved. Constructed during the reign of Dhatusena, it may have been made as a result of a competition between a master and a pupil. Avukana statue is one of the best examples of a standing statue constructed in ancient Sri Lanka. It is now a popular tourist attraction in the country.

Location and appearance
The Avukana statue is located in the village of Avukana near Kekirawa in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is close to the Kala Wewa reservoir, and is positioned facing it. It has been carved out of a large granite rock face, but is not completely separated. A narrow strip of rock has been left at the back of the statue, connecting it to the rock face and supporting it.However, the pedestal on which the Buddha stands, which is carved in the form of a lotus flower, has been carved separately and positioned under the statue. The statue alone is 38 feet 10 inches (11.84 m) in height, and with the pedestal the total height of the Avukana statue reaches 42 feet (13 m). The statue had been located within a large image house or shrine, of which parts of the walls still remain. It had been made of brick and stone, and was 74 feet (23 m) long and 63 feet (19 m) wide.

The Avukana statue is considered to be one of the best examples of a standing statue of the Buddha from ancient Sri Lanka. The Avukana statue indicates some influence of the Gandhara school of art, as well as the Amaravati school of art of India. The robe is worn tightly, clearly outlining the shape of the body, and its pleats are carved clearly and delicately. It's worn over the left shoulder, and the right shoulder is bare, as is the tradition in Buddha statues of Sri Lanka. The Buddha's body is straight, and the left hand clutches the robe at the left shoulder. The right hand is raised up to the right shoulder, with the palm facing left. This position is known as the Asisa mudra, a variation of the Abhaya mudra.

The Avukana statue is widely believed to have been constructed in the 5th centuryduring the reign of King Dhatusena, and under his orders.However, another theory is that it was done by an individual named Barana.There is another standing statue of the Buddha, quite similar to the Avukana statue, at Sasseruwa located close to Avukana. According to legend, the two statues are the result of a competition between a stone sculpting guru(master) and gola(pupil). The story goes that the master constructed the Avukana statue, while the pupil made the statue at Sasseruwa. The first to complete his statue had to notify it to the other by ringing a bell. The master managed to complete his statue first, and won the competition. This is said to be the reason that the Sasseruwa statue is in an unfinished state. The Avukana statue is considered to be the better of the two, and similarities between them have led historians to believe that the story is actually true.The hand of the Buddha faces the viewer sideways in what is known as the Ashisha Mudra ( Blessing Pose ).

Current situation
Today, pilgrims visit the statue from all parts of the country and the Avukanastatue has now become a popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Although the site lacked many facilities, it has now been improved by the Department of Archaeology and the Civil Defense Force.

Buduruwagalais an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The complex consists of seven statues and belongs to the Mahayana school of thought. The statues date back to the 10th century. The gigantic Buddha statue still bears traces of its original stuccoes robe and a long streak of orange suggests it was once brightly painted. The central of the three figures to the Buddha's right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.

Buduruvagala means "the rock of Buddhist Sculptures"

Buduruvagala is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Wellawaya in Monaragala district, Sri Lanka.

Size of the statues
The largest of the standing Buddha statues is 51 feet (16 m) from head to toe; is the largest standing Buddha statue of the island.

Authorities generally date them to the 9th or 10th century. Buduruvagala does not have much historical records. Even its original name is unknown. It is thought to be a hermitage for monks. The sculptures of Buduruvagala also include many sculptures of Bodhisattva images including Mahayana tradition.

The mustard oil lamp
On the same rock where the sculptures are carved, there is a carved shape of about 3 feet (0.91 m) wide and 4 feet (1.2 m) height. It is of the shape of a flame. The inside wall of this carved shape is always wet of an oil that smells very much like Mustard oil. This oil comes to the carved shape with no explainable source or reason.

This site situated in a beautiful surrounding has a history going in to the pre-Christian times. The brahmi 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 realized the importance of the site calling it an architectural jewel. Initially the restoration work was done by mainly Muslim laborers as the Buddhist laborers 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.

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.

Other Buildings Around The Main Structure.
In addition to the main Stupa house there are remains of three image houses and a Stupa in this area.

The Stupa house with the Buddha in the resting position
This Stupa house is located is after 16 steps to the Vatadage. This Stupa house is 57 x 36 feet and the image is 33 feet long.

Pichcha-mal Viharaya
There are two other images houses further away from the Vatadage. These are built together and each is 20x20 feet in size. Inside there are five images of Buddha, three standing and two seated. This areas is locally known as the Pichcha-mal Viharaya

Small Stupa
Opposite side of the pathway to the Vatadage entrance is a small Stupa built on a rock. You can get a fantastic view of the Vatadage from this rock.
There are two ponds in the area. These probably have been used by the bikkhus who lived in these temples.

Near the entrance to the Vatadage area is a cave which is thought to be made during recent times or a natural cave.

There are remains of an advance hospital in the same area. This is built as two squares. The outer square has 33 stone pillars and the inner square has 20 pillars. There have been three entrances to the building. There are indications that the rooms have had doors. A well preserved medicine boat too can bee seen here.

The Medicine boat
This is a common feature you find in all the hospital of the ancient time. This boat is made out of hard rock so that the medicine would not absorb on the rock. The cavity is built to fit any human.

Stone inscriptions
There have been a large number of stone inscriptions in the area but many have been destroyed by treasure hunters and the villagers around the temple. Only three remains today. Two if them relate to the management of the hospital and the provision of food to the hospital. The third one is in Tamil language.

A stone used as a top of a toilet pit can be found on the right side near the main entrance.
The Star Tracing Stupas of Sri Lanka

Many a megalithic structures had been built across the globe in the ancient times emulating the position of star constellations. Despite being built by various nations at different periods of time there are certain similarities between them in structure and purpose, which had baffled the modern archaeologists for centuries.

Many ancient cultures had built pyramids or pyramid-like structures.There are large pyramids in South America, Egypt, China, and some smaller ones in Greece, North America, the Canary Islands and Indonesia.

The construction of these monuments had involved very big and very heavy blocks of stones, which would have required extreme skill and energy to produce and to transport. The seamless and smooth finish of these stone made constructions including the ancient constructions in Sri Lanka would have required a precision and skill beyond mere human capability.

Many wonder as to why blocks as heavy as many tons were used if not for a specific reason. Also, in Egypt, Peru, Sri Lanka and Easter Island, there are certain walls which are consisting of very heavy interlocking stone blocks of various sizes, seamlessly pieced together like a puzzle, and without the use of composite building material.

Like the great stupas of Sri Lanka these giant constructions were also believed to be enshrining the remains of the Kings and leaders yet many had proved this theory false. While some pyramids in South Americas were use as tombs they had also served a purpose more complex than a mere a mausoleum while pyramids in Giza, Egypt were never used as tombs.

For centuries Sri Lankans too believed the ancient great Stupas to be mere objects of worship enshrining the remains of Lord Buddha and the arhants or the enlightened ones.

Likewise their alignment with the stars above is a common phenomenon shared by many of these megaliths. Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, the three great stupas of Anuradhapura and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, seem to be coordinated to specific star constellations.

Three large pyramids at the Giza plateau of Egypt, conclusively match three specific stars from the belt of the star constellation of Orion: Alnitak, Alnilam en Mintaka. Furthermore, two of the other stars of Orion had matched with the destroyed pyramids in Abu Rawash and the pyramid in Zawjet Al Arjan

The three great stupas of Anuradhapura; Mirisavatiya, Ruvanweliya and Jetavanaya perfectly aligns with the three stars in the constellation of Orion, namely Rigel, Al Nitak and Bellatrix. The three sides of the triangle in the ground layout of the three stupas, built between 161 B.C. and A.D. 331, correlates precisely with the three sides of the triangle of three stars on the right-hand wing of the constellation of Orion creating heaven-earth duplication.

Meanwhile Angkor Wat of Cambodia,the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world, built in the 12th century, is believed to be part of a representation of the constellation Draco.

These earth and celestial duplications and their advanced building techniques had intrigued researchers and archaeologists for generations but the present investigators are nowhere near to deciphering the secrets behind these mega structures.

Yet recent discoveries in Sri Lanka have revealed that Ruwanweliseya of Anuradhapura could have been a giant energy storing device, which also could have exchanged energies with the skies above.

According to a multi-disciplinary investigation conducted by Architect ShereenAmendra, the structure of the Ruwanweliseya, known as the Mahastupa, its position and the material used for the construction were instrumental in creating a giant size capacitor which exchanged electric charges with the heavens above.

According to the Mahavamsa, the great chronicles of Sri Lanka the choice of ground for the construction of MahaStupa had been done by Lord Buddha himself while the structural plan for the stupa had been done by the Arhants or the enlightened ones of the MahaVihara. The stupa, which enshrines a large amount of relics of Lord Buddha, had been constructed using precious metals like silver and gold and precious stones, known to be excellent electricity conductors.

In her book 'Beyond the seeing eye: the Mahathupa of Lanka Ms. Amendra questions whether the mahathupa was used to transform thoughts to electric power and transmit them to the celestials while receiving messages from them.

A device designed by enlightened arhants beyond the understanding of mere mortals, yet still transmitting the thoughts and aspirations of many devotes who gather around it in prayer.
The Stargate at Ranmasu Uyana

Sandwiched between the ThissaWewa reservoir and the Isurumuniya Rock Temple, RanmasuUyana of Anuradhapura, a forty acre pleasure garden of the ancient Sri Lankan royals is a unique creation.

The RanmasuUyana was mainly known for its rock sculpted bathing ponds with a sophisticated hydraulics mechanism. A subtle use of pressure difference enables the pumping of water from the nearby TissaWewa to the swimming pools of the garden. The pools themselves display a clever use of technology and craftsmanship, in constructing a flawless luxury swimming facility nearly three thousand years ago.

However the true wonder of RanmasuUyana is found among the rock boulders and caves away from the pools. Carved on a stone wall is a strange map like chart known to many as the 'stargate'. A stargate is believed to be a gateway between the earth and the outer space, through which humans allegedly roamed the universe communicating and engaging with other intelligent beings in the universe. This chart is believed to be the secret code to accessing the stargate. Facing the stargate marking are four seats, which implies that it was a chart, which could be used or manipulated by four individuals.

The discovery of the stargate marking had created waves amidst archeologists and pre-historic investigators, some drawing parallels between the stargate charts found in Abu Ghurab in Egypt and 'the gate way to the gods' in Peru. The bizarre coincidence of all the three marks been found in the vicinity of a water way, with sophisticated engineering methods, had given rise to various theories.

The most favorite is the claim that these stargates were used by extraterrestrials that were gold mining in Earth. Their theory is built up on the fact that in 2400 BC the stargate in Abu Ghurab Egypt was surrounded by water while" La Puerta de HayuMarka." Or "The Gateway to The Gods" in Peru too is built closer Lake Titicaca, with underground water tunnels and chambers beneath the pyramids.

The advocates of the 'processing gold from the waters of Earth' theory believes that these water channels, chambers, reservoirs and filters found near each stargate to have been a part of a sophisticated mechanism developed by extraterrestrials thousands of years ago.

If the theory is held to be true, RanmasuUyana had once been a 'gold processing center of extraterrestrials', which arrived on earth through stargates.

Yet archeologists are eager to discard these theories as pure imagination. According to the earliest archeologists and historians the charts could have been a descriptive chart of the universe according to Buddhism or a simple map of the earth. At later stages the historians have interpreted them as descriptions of animal evolution or as the way Tantric Buddhist monks perceived the world. It is believed that they used them for meditation purposes as well.

Present day archaeologist abhor the thought of comparing Egyptian civilisation with the Sri Lankan civilisation, insisting that ours is a unique island civilisation pure of Egyptian or Babylonian influence.

Whatever their initial use may have been, the interpretations provided for these markings varies from a secret key to space travelling to the floor plan of Sigiriya, a rock garden found closer to Anuradhapura. Yet the only fact about these charts is that despite various claims and arguments, we are nowhere near to understanding them or knowing their sources.
Yoda Ela - An Ancient Engineering Marvel

Ancient Sri Lankans are celebrated for their indigenous knowledge in irrigation. Irrigation systems of ancient Sri Lanka consist of a large number of village tanks, gigantic reservoirs and an intrinsic network of water cannals connecting these tanks while supplying water to farming land.

Despite the abundance of irrigation constructions in Sri Lanka, Yoda Ela or Jaya Ganga, an 87 km long water canal carrying excess water from Kala Wewa in Polonnaruwa to ThissaWewa in Anuradhapura, is a construction dependent on remarkable instrumentation precision.Its gradient of10 to 20 cm per kilometre still baffles experts today for its minute precision.

Built during the regime of King Dathusena in fifth century AD, who also sponsored the construction of Kala Wawa reservoir, Yoda ela was constructed to convey excess water from Kala Wawa in Polonnaruwa to Thissa Wawa reservoir in Anuradhapura.

However the ancient engineering methods in calculating the exact elevation of the Kala Wewa against ThissaWawa and the exact gradient of the canal to such fine precision had been lost with the fall of the civilisation.

Moreover the ingenuity of ancient engineers is also exhibited in how Yoda Ela was designed as an elongated reservoir, which passes through traps creating sixty six mini-catchments as it flows from Kala Wawa to Thissa Wawa. The canal was not designed for the quick conveying of water from Kala Wawa to Thissa Wawa but to create mass of water between the two reservoirs, which would in turn provided for agriculture and the use of humans and animals.

Another unique feature of the Yoda Ela is that the canal has only one bund to manage the canal pressure with the influx of water. Two bunds would have increased the pressure causing damage while with one bund the water spreads on the upper side and releases the pressure creating no danger to the bund. Built along the contours the canal collects and dispenses water throughout its 87 km flow length.

Many a features had been added to the canal since its construction. King Parakramabahu who governed the country nearly 700 years after the Yoda Wawa, reconstructed the canal added more feeders to the canal starting from thirty four reservoirs found between Kala Wawa and Thissa Wawa, re-naming it Jaya Ganga or the river of victory.

The extra water from these tanks would be fed to the canal which would distribute it in an area of 180 square miles feeding 11,400 acres of paddy lands and 120 small tanks.

However part of this ingenious creation was destroyed during the attempts to create a second Jaya Ganga under the Mahaweli Development Project causing dearth of water to some parts of the dry zone while measures are now been taken to reverse the damage done to an engineering marvel of ancient Sri Lanka.
Sigiriya - A Heavenly Palace on Earth

Believed to have been built in reminiscenceof Alakamandawa, the legendary palace of Kuvera, the treasurer of the gods and a mythical king of Lanka, Sigiriya is a palace and a pleasure garden built atop a 200 meter rock in the Fifth century AC by King Kashyapa.

Having seized the power after killing his father through a coup, Price Kashyapa, the son of King Dathusenaborn to a non-royal consort, chose to establish his kingdom in Sigiriya, away from Anuradhapura, the seat of power at the moment. Fearing military threats by Price Moggallana, the rightful heir to the throne, King Kashyapa, chose to build his castle on a strategically beneficial position, on the top of 200 meter tall Sihagiriya.

The grounds around the rock had long being the premises for Buddhist monasteries but the new king established himself on Sigiriya in the most fashionable manner. His castle on the top of the rock was a unique creation consists of landscaped gardens with ponds and wall murals. The palace complex includes a an upper palace sited on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall and a wall filled with frescoes, the lower palace that clings to the slopes below the rock, and the moats, walls, and gardens that extend to hundreds of metres out from the base of the rock.

It is considered one of the best urban planning sites of the first millenniumas the plan includes concepts of symmetry and asymmetry, combining man-made structures and natural forms of the surroundings. On the west side of the rock is a park for the royals, laid out on a symmetrical plan, containingreservoirs and ponds, including sophisticated surface and subsurface hydraulic systems, which are in working condition even today.

Yet the most famed and beautiful is the frescoes of Sigiriya, which according to archaeologists would have covered the whole western face of the rock fortress, creating a large picture gallery, 140 meters long and 40 meters wide. It is believed to have contained 500 images of beautiful damsels, which had won the admiration of many who visited Sigiriya, after it lost its master. Eighteen years after the palace was built Kashyapa lost his throne and life to his royal sibling Moggallana, who chose to rule from Anuradhapura.

Yet the beautiful ladies of the Sigiriya were admired by many who climbed the steeps of Sigiriya and their admiration was noted in poems on the mirror wall of Sigiriya, initially built as a mirrored wall. Made of porcelain, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock as back 8th century AC. People of all walkshad written on varying subjects such as love, irony, and experiences of all sorts but mainly their admiration for the damselsofSigiriya.

The painting belong to the Anuradhapura period contains sketchy lines unlike other paintings of the same period while the artist have employed the technique of sweeping strokes, using more pressure on one side, giving the effect of a deeper colour tone towards the edge. The true identity of the ladies in these paintings still has not been confirmed. Some believe them to be the wives of the king while some depict them as women taking part in religious observances.

Their close resemblance to some of the paintings in the Ajanta caves in India had always been celebrated although the subject matter and techniques of Ajanta and Sigiriya are vastly different. Ajanta frescoes belong to the tempera medium while Sigiriya is of true frescoes medium, with limited colours. Yet Ajanta frescoes in cave 2, belonging to the 5th -6th century AC Mahayana phase are similar to the Sigiriya frescoes, sparking assumptions that Sigiriya too could have been a Mahayana monastery instead of a royal palace. The frescoes are believed to be of Tara, a female bodhisattva in Mahayana.

However none of the assumptions were proven true while the fifty remaining Sigiriya damsels wait for their identity and purpose to be rediscovered.

The life of Ravana, one of the most powerful beings ever to roam the universe, if Hindu legends are to be believed, had unfolded in the small island Sri Lanka, where he ruled with mighty power over gods, humans and demons.

Valmiki's Ramayana paint Ravana as a tyrant of mighty power who was holding the gods at ransom, and he continues to be treated as a blackguard in India even today. In the classic text, he is found kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister Surpanakha.

Yet Ravana of Sri Lanka is portrayed to be a different king and a human. He is described as a devout follower of the god Shiva, a great scholar, a capable ruler and a maestro of aveena, known as the ravanhattha.

The story goes that Ravana;in order topleasehis motherhad decided to bring the mountain Kailash to Sri Lanka. As he lifted up the mountain, God Shiva was angered by his arrogance and pushed it back down, trapping Ravana. The King of Lanka had torn off one of his own arms and made a musical instrument, ripping out sinews to form the strings. He used the newly invented ravanhattha to sing the praises of Shiva, creating music of such beauty that Shiva wept and forgave him.

According to Hindu mythology Ravana was born to a great sage Vishrava and his wife, princess Kaikesi. He was born in the Devagana, as his grandfather, the sage Pulastya, was one of the ten Prajapatis or mind-born sons of Brahma and one of the Saptarishi or the Seven Great Sages duringthe age of Manu.Ravana's siblings include Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravana and a step brother Kubera, from whom he usurped the Kingdom of Lanka.

Lanka was an idyllic city, created by the celestial architect Vishwakarma himself and was the home of Kuwera, the treasurer of the gods, when Ravana demanded Lanka wholly from him, threatening to take it by force. Although Ravana usurped Lanka, he had been a benevolent and effective ruler. Lanka flourished under his rule and Ravana had proceeded on a series of campaigns conquering humans, celestials and demons.

It is said that Ravana ruled Lanka for several hundred years prior to the times of Ramayana, when he was killed by prince Rama for kidnapping his wife Sita.

Yet some believe Ramayana to be a semi-fiction woven around a real King who ruled over Sri Lanka from 2554 to 2517 BC.Sri Lankan lore has it that Sri Lanka under the scholarly Ravana saw great advancements in science and medicine. The pushpaka vimana or the aeroplane which he flew is held as an example of great scientific achievements made during his regime while Ravana also holds a high position as a physician and there exists, to this day, seven books on Ayurveda in his name. He is also believed to have authored Ravana Sanhita, an anthology of Hindu astrology and his description as a ten-headed person, Dasamukha or Dasagriva, is believed to be a reference to his vast knowledge and intelligence.

His Kingdom had mainly concentrated around the Eastern and Southern corners of the country and believed to have been lost to the sea with the years.

Some even go as far as to insist that Ravana was a Buddhist king and holds him to be the creator of monasteries found in Sri Lanka like Kuragala and Rahalgala. The country is filled with locations which are linked to the Ravana legend like SitaElisa in NumaraElisa, which is believedto be a prison of Princess Sita while Wariyapola and Horton Plains are considered to be the landing sites of his flying machine.

Rumassala, a mountain peak by the Southern oceans of Sri Lanka is too linked to the Ravana legend and is held to be a part of the Himalaya Mountain. The mountain filled with medicinal plants was allegedly brought to Sri Lanka to treat the injured of the Rama-Ravana war was left in the country and is still filled with herbs of rare medicinal value.

Adam's Bridge, a chain of limestone shoals, between Rameswaram Island, off the south eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north western coast of Sri Lanka too is connected to the legend of Ravana. Also known as Rama-Sethu or Rama's bridge the land mass is believed to be a bridge built by monkeys interconnecting India and Sri Lanka and enabling the crossing of Rama's army. Investigations conducted by Indian National Remote Sensing Agency had suggested that the land connection could be a manmade structure built 5000 to 3500 years ago.

Yet Sri Lankan Ravana fans contradict its origin and its builder. Sri Lankan historians believe that the bridge was built by Ravana and was a floating structure connecting Lanka with lands in India.

According to them the bridge was later used by Rama's army who crossed boundaries to Ravana's Lankapura and overthrew one of the greatest rulers of the world with the assistance of his brother Vibishana, bringing down one of the most advanced civilisations in the history.
Ruwanweli Seya

Is Ruwanweli Seya a feast of civil engineering marvel, enshrining the relics of Lord Buddha or did it have a higher purpose? Designed by Arhants or enlightened ones themselves archeologists and investigators inquire the greater purpose of a stupa whose construction was predicted by Buddha and was awaited by Arhants, gods and humans.

Built nearly 2500 years ago,accomplishing a prediction made by Lord Buddha himself, Ruwanweli Seya or the pagoda of golden dust, was one of the largest structures in the ancient world, standing 103 m tall with a circumference of 290 m.

Also known as the Mahathupa, SwarnamaliChaitya, SuvarnamaliMahacetiand RathnamaliDagaba, the stupa is an engineering feast and a testimony to the engineering capabilities of the ancient Sri Lankans.

Yet with the advancement of the sciences and understanding of the Mahathupa's true structure many experts and commoners alike are questioning the true purpose of the Mahathupa. Is it only a mega structure protecting and encasing the relics of Lord Buddha or did it have a larger function still unknown to the 'advanced' civilisations of today.

Unlike with any other giants stupas found in the country, Mahavansa, the great chronicle of Sri Lanka, records the minute details and items involved in building the Mahathupa. Every detail from the preparation of ground initiated by King Dutugamunu to the ending of constructions by his brother King Saddatissa had been faithfully recorded and many wonder whether this record keeping was done for a purpose.

A pillar recording this future occurrence was established by King Devanampiyatissa under the guidance of ArhantMahinda on its location nearly two hundreds before the Mahathupa was built. According to the legends the site itself had been graced by four Buddhas; Kakusanda, Konagamaand Kassapa in earlier times and further by Gauthama Buddha during his third visit to Sri Lanka.

Another five hundred years later, on aVesak full moon Poya day, King Dutugamunu had the inscribed stone pillar that was erected by King DevanampiyaTissa, removed and the site leveled. The foundation was dug to a depth of seven cubits, spread with round stones, which were then crushed into smaller pieces. The stones were then stamped upon by elephants with leather shoes. Fine clay from Himalaya was spread on the stones with layers of bricks, rough plaster, quartz, a network of iron, fragrant clay, white stones, rock crystals and slabs of stones placed over it. Mercury, resin of the wood-apple, and fine clay mixed together were spread over the slabs of stones while bronze sheets of eight inches thickness were laid over the mixture. It was spread with arsenic and sesame oil mixed together and covered with silver sheets of four inches thickness.

Once the foundation is completed the arhants present had made the foundation sink into the earth making space for another foundation. According to the Mahavamsa, this process had been repeated seven times, to strengthen the Mahathupa, that it would stand the worst earthquake or natural disaster.

The relic chamber of the Mahathupa, which had never being archeologically excavated is believed to contain a drona of relics of Lord Buddha, treasured inside a pure gold relic chambers adorned with gold, silver and gems. The walls of the relic chamber is said to be adorned with the murals depicting samsara cycle of Lord Buddha, silver and copper vases and a replica of a Bo-tree made out of silver. The relic casket is placed on a vajrasana or a seat of diamonds and is sealed inside with stone slabs by Arhants.

The Arhants then determined that 'The relic-chamber shall not shake even by an earthquake; flowers that were offered on that day shall not wither till the end of Buddha Gotama's Dispensation; the lamps that were kindled shall not be extinguished; the clay that was mixed with perfume and sandalwood shall not dry; even a single scratch shall not appear within the relic-chamber; stains shall not appear in any of the golden goods that were offered. They also determined also that inimical persons should not be able to even see the relic-chamber.

When the great stupa was only partially completed its creator, King Dutugamunu, passed away leaving the responsibility of concluding the work to his brother King Saddatissa. Under his patron ship the Mahathupa was given a chathra or a parasol, which is not found today and a wall of tuskers around Mahathupa, which is found even today. According to the Mahavansa, the chathra contained a circle of diamonds, explained as a Vajrachumbaka, and a large ruby at the top.

Architect ShreenAmendra, in her book 'Beyond the Seeing Eye; The Mahathupa of Lanka', questions whether the purpose of the Mahathupa's parasol was to attract lightening and to be excited into its piezo-electric properties to oscillate at its particular frequency, emitting a pulse which could be detected by heavens above.

The chathra was accompanied by an upakhila, which is placed below the chathra and is made out of copper. Use of copper in the Upakhila, which is connected to the chathra, which attracts electricity, suggests that the chathra and upkhilawere used to harvest electricity through thunderhead clouds. Amendra further comments that use of high conductive metal in relic chamber and in the foundation is formula of a grand design which was meant to create an intricate circuit, with semiconductors, capacitors, emitters and groundings with the sacred relics in the center as the source of power.

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