Thursday, May 27, 2010

A bit of Kalpitiya history

Posted by The Editor at 8:48 PM
Mannar is a place related to our island country from ancient times even before our chronicle Mahavansa was written. It was Mannar from where Hanuman the monkey worrier mentioned in Ramayana arrived in Lanka with his troops.


Hanuman built a bridge to cross the Mannar gulf from Rameswaran. This incident is supposed to have occurred during the rule of Rawana more than two thousand years before the arrival of Vijaya B.C. 544 from which date our history is recorded in Mahavansa.

Are these the fish named in Buddhist Jataka stories as Kinduru?

The bridge built by Hanuman is known as Adams Bridge which is sunk to-day in the deep sea as shown by the ocean scientists. The Indian Archaeologists filed action in the Indian Supreme Courts against the Rama - Sethu Samudran project and brought to the notice of the courts about the damage that will be caused by the Sethu Samudra proposed new sea route to the portions of the Adams bridge now sunk in the deep sea.

The Archaeologists wanted this bridge now under water to be preserved as a cultural heritage. Vijaya sailed through Kadamba nadi now identified as Malwatu-oya and landed in Aravi aru which is Arippu as known to-day.

The area was a transit centre of the Indo-ariyans. The principal sea port Mahatitta or Mantai is located in the land area opposite the modern Mannar town. This seaport was known in Sinhala as Mahavoti, Mahapatu, Mahauthee, Mawathupatuna, Mahapatuna, Matota etc;, while the Tamils call it Manthive now.

The Pandyan princess who was brought here as Vijaya’s queen also landed here from this port. The land area is buried under the sea and in the rock is located Thiruketheeswaram Hindu temple.

It is recorded that this was an International sea port where traders from Perisa, Egypt, China, Arab and other Far Eastern countries met. They traded in pearls, oyster, elephant tusks etc.

These traders have recorded that there were large fish here similar in appearance to humans. Their heads could be observed as human heads from above water level.

They milk their off springs and disappear under the water when disturbed raising their posterior which resembles a fish tail. They were mammals. This kind of fish was observed from the Mannar sea coast up to Kalpitiya by Emerson Tennent. The Greeks named them “Dugong”.

They were more than seven feet in length. The Europeans named them as “mermaids.” Are these the fish named in Buddhist stories as “Kinduru”. The fish caught in Mannar and sent to Colombo in 1874 was more than seven feet in length.


Fish similar in appearance to humans

In 1560 seven of such fish were caught and sent to the Viceroy who was in Goa. The Viceroy’s Surgeon Demas Bosque dissected these fish and reported that they are similar to humans in their anatomy and their flesh tastes the eel fish (see the Google photographs).

A skeleton is now found in the Natural History Museum Belfast. In the period of Sri Megavanna (301-328) there had been a Kovil and in the ninth and tenth centuries the slaughter of cattle in Mannar area was prohibited according to Prof. Senerath Paranavitana.

This shows that the Buddhist and Hindus who lived in harmony attended their religious ceremonies together. Epigraphica Ceylonica Chap i page 245. Chap ii page 235, Chap iii pages 133, 135, 225 records that the Sinhala king engaged the services of his officials to collect taxes from the area.

The proximity of Mannar to South India was the reason for frequent attacks by Cholas and Pandyans. Elara in the second century landed here from this sea port.

Elara’s General Bhalluka too arrived from Mannar. When the Lambakarna king Ealanaga (33-43) was banished from the Island by his own relations the king fled to Kerala from this port.

The Gulf of Mannar was famous for pearl fishery and the British were engaged in pearl fishery in commercial scale. Lord Guilford built a circuit bungalow “Doris” for the Governor to lodge during pearl fishery. Mannar area is rich in other resources.

Battles in the past

Pallawa kings Narasingha Raman I and II sent Mallawa troops against prince Manawamma but they were defeated in the Mannar battle field. In the reign of Aggabodhi II (772-277) a Pandyan troop arrived from Mannar to conquer Lanka but prince Mahinda who was in-charge of Mannar defeated these troops in the Mannar area itself.

In the eleventh and thirteenth centuries during the long Chola and Pandiyan invasions Mannar then Mahatitta was the port that the alien troops used to land in Sri Lanka. Prof. Senarath Paranavitana states that due to the proximity of Mahatitta to South India the Tamils frequently migrated to this area and settled down and Tamilised the place names in the area. King Vasaba (67-111) built the Kohala alias Kehala tank in the area. At that time this area was known as Uttaradesh alias Uttararata.

The tank built by king Dhatusena (455-473) then known as Mahamattaka is the giant tank today. Maha Parakramabahu waged a war in this region and annexed this area to Uttasara or Uttararata.

He built a fortrees in a place then known as Pilawasu. Later in 1560 the Portugese built a fortress and the Dutch in 1458 chased the Portuguese and fortified the fortress. Mulaitivu was a fortress of the Portuguese Dutch and the English. At a later period in the Kandyan war in 1803 Major Davy Commanded the troops from here but the Kandyan war heroes were able to get back the port to the Kandyan kingdom.

The re-patriation of stateless Indian labour under the Sirima-Shastri pact was through Talaimannar to Danuskodi and Rameswaran. In the good old days we used to utilize the free railway warrants to travel to Talaimannar. The government Rest House that we used to stay is occupied by the Army today.

Jaffna area which belonged to the ancient Pihitirata was an area with four lakhs and fifty thousand villages. It is the land area beyond Elephant Pass inclusive of the peninsular. The area is flat land without any river or perennial water resources. Iranamadu is the ancient tank here.

The Naga tribe that lived here during the time of the Buddha were related to the Nagas of Kelaniya. The Buddha visited Nagadeepa to settle a dispute that arose between these tribes. The village where this war was to take place was known as Malalagama which is Tamilised Mallakm today.

The Buddha demarcated a sacred area here and a bo-sapling was planted. It was known as Rajayatana then. King Bhatikatissa (143-167) built a guard house and a Vihara named Rajayathana Dhatu Viharaya. King Agbo II (571-604) built a monastery and a outer cover to the Amala Vehera in this place.

The delegation of king Devanampiyatissa set sail to meet king Dharmasoka from the port Jambukola. It has taken eleven days for this journey and fourteen days for their return.

The tooth relics were brought here through this port. This port is Tamilised as Sambilthurai today. It is located near Kankasanthurai. The delegation that brought the Sri Maha-bo sapling also arrived through this port. King Devanampiyatissa built the Samudda Viharaya here and planted a bo sapling. This Vihara was also known as Valika Viharaya.

The Situ, clan who accompanied the Bodiya were settled in Sittukulampattuwa. Vijayabahu I (1055-1110) restored the Valika Vihara. King Devananpiyatissa has built a vihara here by the name of Tissamaha Viharaya.

The “Vallipura stone Inscription” of King Vasaba (67-111) states that this area consisted of a vast Sinhala population. This inscription was near Pt. Pedro. Piyangutissa a Minister of Vasaba built a Viharaya in Vallipura. Piyangudeepa the area where Piyangutissa overlooked is identified as the modern Punkudutivu.

There had been twelve thousand Buddhist priests living in this area.

The King’s Prime Minister Isagiri was in-charge of Nagadeepa. The modern Kyts Islands close to Nagadeepa was then known as Karadeepa or Abideepa. There were other Viharayas such as Madana, Kolase and the Salipabbata Viharaya in Nagadeepa built by Vahallakanaga.

This area was subjected to frequent attacks by Cholas and Pandyans. Due to the famine that lasted for nearly two and a half decades after the Pandyan invasion in 1283 the Sinhala population migrated to the South of the country. There were many principal sea ports in the area.

They are Uratota which is Keyts to-day, Jambukola which is Sambalthurai now, Piyangndeepa which is Punkudutivu etc. Several Sinhala names such as Valigomuwa which is Valikaman now, Hunugama now Chunnakam, Malalagama now Mallakam, Jawa Kotte now Chavakacheri, Karadivu now Keyts, Kadurugama now Kandador Kodigama now Kodikaman etc: are Tamilised today.

De Quevroz the Portuges historian records that the area was under the Kotte king when the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka. In 1658 when the Dutch invaded the area belonged to King Wimaladharmasuria I of Senkadagala.

Sir Samuel Baker records that when the area was constantly under Arab merchants attack, the Tamils in the area were protected by the Sinhalese. The area which was under the Portuguese and Dutch for sometime was annexed to the Kandyan kingdom by Rajasingha II.

The Dutch captured the Kings pet tusker “Horatala” and the King found it difficult to enlist fighters to wage wars. Therefore the King by an special order issued on 09-04-1660 declared a pardon to the prisoners if they join the war.

Ferguson the government Surveyor states that the area had a population of two lakhs and twenty thousand in the eighteenth century. “Kailasa Mala” a book of poems describes how the Nagas of the peninsular were chased and area occupied by the Tamils.

This is in short what the poem says. A princess born in Tanjore had the head of a horse. She was advised to bathe in a well at Keeramalai if she was to get a head of a human. She bathed in the Keeramalai well and got a human head as predicted. This incident is commemorated up to to-date annually in the Mahavittipuram Kovil built in memory of this event.

A minister who accompanied this princess has gone to the area of the Sinhala king. This ministers name was Yalpanam alias Yalpanando. The King gave this area to the minister to-be in-charge and named the area as Yalpanam. The Europeans who arrived in the area later named this area as Jaffna or Jaffnapatam. After this a royal clan of Nallur was found who later on ruled the area including Vanni and Mannar.

In 1617 the area came under the Portuguese and in 1658 under the Dutch. Our sandesa poems narrate that Jaffna was annexed to Kotte kingdom by Sapumal Kumaraya who became the king of Kotte as Buwaneka Bahu VI (1464-1471). King Senerath in 1628 invaded Jaffna with his two step sons Vijayapala and Kumarasingha. When the Kandyan convention was signed on 02.03.1815 Jaffna was a part of the Kandyan kingdom.

In the periods of nineteen sixties Jaffna had a flourishing agricultural economy. Up country vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, leeks, tomato, beans, potato were grown there. Tobacco was a subsidiary crop. The Colombo markets were full of grapes, mangoes and varieties of fruits grown in Jaffna.

There was a strong chain of Young Farmers clubs, Co-op societies, Transport Societies of Lorry owners, Famer organisations etc; with whom I had strong links when I worked as a public servant in the area.

The then government launched a WHO/FAO/UNICEF assisted Agricultural Extension and Applied Nutrition Programme in the peninsular for the benefit of local famers and housewives. It was the golden Era of the Jaffna farmer. This was a period from 1965-70 when the Minister of Agriculture was late Mr. M. D. Banda in the Dudly Senanayake Cabinet.

Source:http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2008/06/22/plus01.asp

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