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Home Sites Jaffna Fort
Jaffna Fort

Jaffna in contemporary Sri Lanka could be surmised as the epitome of the Hindu-Tamil culture in Sri Lanka. However from the archaeological evidence available it could be confirmed that in the ancient times Buddhist culture had spread to the north as well as to other places of Sri Lanka. With the fall of the Polonnaruwa kingdom in the 13th c. A.D. a separate political administration emerged in the Jaffna peninsula, also known as Nagadipa and its survival was established by being the controlling centre of the trade route between India and Sri Lanka. In this manner Jaffna was able to build up an independent state to exert at present a strong political influence over the administration of Sri Lanka as in the ancient times. The historicity of Jaffna and its residual evidence is exemplified by the existence of the Dutch Fort and the host of other archaeological monuments associated with it, though they are seen to the present day as ruins.
The Jaffna Fort and the buildings that had come up during the occupation of the island by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British shows the architectural features relevant to those periods of construction. These buildings have been destroyed during the 30 year old internal strife that ravaged the country.
Jaffna Fort, the second biggest Dutch fort built in Sri Lanka is an archaeological monument that has had a direct onslaught as a result of the recent 30 year of armed conflict. Although a portion of its seaside rampart had been destroyed due to a continuous offensive from the LTTE the fort taken as a whole has not undergone a severe destruction. An outer moat exists outside the ramparts. Outside the moat is the outer rampart which has built in to it five tunnels each in a twin formation. Although the tunnels are in good preservation they are presently void of doors. However they show signs that they have had doorways in the past.
The monuments within the fort had been destroyed during the conflict that raged in the area. Of these the monument named the Queen’s Palace is in sufficient level of preservation than the rest as it could be identified. Its superstructure is completely destroyed and the remaining walls are in the process of being destroyed due to the presence of invasive plants having taken roots in them.
The short parapet wall constructed to the style of Dutch architecture in front of this building has by and large been spared of destruction. Behind the building is an access to the rampart with an ornate trellis balustrade. This access may have been used by the Dutch to transport arms to the rampart. There is evidence to show that a verandah with two ponds of the Dutch architectural style had existed in front of the Queen’s Palace.
The Dutch church located within the fort had been bombed and completely destroyed. As this structure had been documented its ancient layout could be identified. Its broad walls had been constructed in limestone.
The other buildings such as the old prison, the hospital and the ancillary buildings have undergone much destruction. The belfry on the inner rampart is similar to those found in other Dutch forts. Presently their walls are missing.
Close to the boundary of the seaside rampart are a well believed to have been constructed during the Dutch era and a Hindu temple built at a later date.
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Buduruwagala is a historic Buddhist Rock Temple located on the Tanamalwila Road, about 5km from Wellawaya. The road takes you past a dammed lake to this serene site which sits in a plot of dry-zone forest inhabited by beautiful butterflies and birds. The meaning of the name Buduruwagala is “rock of Buddhist sculptures” and archaeologists have determined that these works of art are of the 9th or 10th Century AD.

History of Buduruwagala

Even though experts have been able to determine the period during which the images at Buduruwagala were created, very little background information has ever been found. Even the name by which it was originally known has not come to light. However it is believed to have been a hermitage for monks of the Mahayana sect, which is probably why there are many Bodhisattva images of this tradition.

Ancient Sculptures

Buduruwagala Carvings

Buduruwagala means “rock of Buddhist sculptures” and is aptly named as there are seven figures carved on the rock. The largest of these is a Buddha statue standing at an impressive 51 feet in a stance known as the “Abhaya Mudra”. The rock on which these images have been carved has an interesting shape – almost like a kneeling Elephant with its head bent towards the earth and is about 300 feet wide and 7 feet high.

The figures, cleverly carved in high relief show two bodhisattva images, each flanked by two attendants. These two groups are positioned on either side of the main central Buddha statue. This figure, which is the tallest of the seven, still bears traces of what are believed to be the original paints of red and yellow. Unfortunately, however, this statue remains in a somewhat unfinished state and the sculptor has not carved very deep into the rock, giving this one and all the other images a rather flat appearance. Near the right foot of this image one notices a hole shaped like the flame of an oil lamp. This is quite a miraculous phenomenon because the inner recesses of it are always found to be wet with a substance that smells like Mustard oil. A plausible reason for this is yet to be discovered. Several square-cut holes in the rock above this image suggest that a canopy may have existed in the early days.

To the left, one can see a carving of a figure that is believed to be a Mahayana deity, Alokiteshvara. To his left is an attendant, while the other image in the group is said to be Tara, consort of Alokiteshvara.

The group of three figures on the right side consists of Vajrapani (the Tibetan Bodhisatva), Maitreya or Natha (the future Buddha) and Vishnu. Vajrapani holds in his hand an hourglass-shaped thunderbolt symbol of Tibetan origin called a Dorje, and this is considered one of the rare examples of Tantric influence in local Buddhist art.

Other Attractions

Just about 6km south of the Buduruwagala rock is a detour which leads you to the Handapangala Reservoir. This is a spot which attracts herds of wild Elephants during certain times of the year, mainly the summer months. Visitors can watch these Elephants from across the river or enjoy a boat ride with a local guide and see them at closer range.

Rock of Miracles

This rock which boasts of, not only remarkable sculptures, but also miraculous occurrences is a not-to-be-missed element of your Tourslanka itinerary. Come with us and let us steer you towards this tranquil setting for an interlude that will prove awe-inspiring and memorable.
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Milk feeding of elephants taking place at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala
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Yala Peacock dance

#yala #srilanka #visitlanka
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Pinnawala Elephant Ride http://ow.ly/SXnd30kD7U9
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Ella is has become one of the major tourist hotspots of Sri Lanka and it is largely due to the epic scenery and hikes in the region such as Ella Rock and Adam’s Peak. However, it’s the smaller attractions, hidden gems and laid back vibes of the town that keep people in Ella for up to a week at a time. One of those unique attractions is the Nine Arch Bridge in between Ella station and Demodara station.

The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is on the Demodara loop and spans 91 meters at a height of 24m. The beautiful nine arches make it a very picturesque spot especially as it is located in a dense jungle and agricultural setting. Behind the railway, a forest is booming and below, tea leaves are being cultivated.

If you love this scenery and want the ultimate Sri Lanka train experience click here to read my Kandy to Ella train article, where I shot many of my favorite images from my Sri Lanka adventure.
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Peter and family at the Dutch Fort in Negombo the Western Coast of Sri Lanka
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Andy and party getting ready for White Water Raffting at Kithulgala in Sri Lanka
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