Places to go in Sri Lanka – Panduwasnuwara short-lived capital of Sri Lanka


Places to go in Sri Lanka – Panduwasnuwara short-lived capital of Sri Lanka

Panduwasnuwara is an ancient city in the region of Kurunegala which functioned as the capital of Sri Lanka for a very brief period. King Parakramabahu set up his temporary capital in this city during the 12th century.

During this period, Panduwasnuwara was the city housing the sacred tooth relic which was brought back to Sri Lanka from India by King Parakramabahu.  Although Panduwasnuwara is not as spectacular a sight as the capital cities Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, it is still worth exploring, if one gets the opportunity.

The site which contains the ruins of ancient buildings is spread over an area of 20 hectares, of which some sections have still not been excavated. The first thing that is visible upon entering the site is the six-meter wide moat and the huge wall of the citadel. The compound contains remnants of many dagobas, image houses, meeting halls, accommodation quarters for monks and even ancient latrines.

One of the primary features of the site is the restored temple of the tooth with a Bo-tree, which is outside the fortified walls. Its original foundation can still be seen, although the elaborately designed roof was restored around the 1970s.

Even though the temple is one of the most important features of the ancient city, the highlight Is the round shaped palace situated inside the circular moat. It is believed to have had several storeys during its heyday and is still a sight to behold. Many legends have been woven around this palace and about the people who said to have lived there. Some believe that it imprisoned a princess, the then king’s daughter, who had to be shielded from the eyes of men.

It was said that if she married and bore a son, he would kill his seven uncles and ascend the throne. Another story said that the palace housed the king’s wives and that there once was a secret tunnel between this palace and the king’s palace, which ran right underneath the moat. Although these are some of the many stories built around the palace, no one knows for sure who built or who lived in the palace.

Historical value

Panduwasnuwara is identified as a capital of the Kurunegala district in the ancient Sri Lanka. According to the historical information it had been the capital city of King Panduvasdeva, who ascended the throne after King Vijaya (circa 5th century B.C.). The site comprising many historical places such as Ektemge the tower with a moat where Unmada chithra was hidden. The place where the king Vijaya was buried also located in the site.

According to the chronicles Panduwasnuwara come fore again in 12th century. The city was called after great King Parakramabahu and was known as City of Parakrama or Parakramapura. The city was used by the king as a stepping stone to the second capital of ancient Sri Lanka Polonnaruwa.

There are many historically important ruins in the city such as walls and moat, king’s palace which is adorned with carved pillars and guard stones, an ancient Bo-tree and a Bodhigara. Shrine room, monastic complex, stone inscription and man-made lake can also be found in the city that is dating back to 12th century A.D.

There are many archeological important artifacts are housed in the archeological museum. Bronze statue and sculpture of King Parakramabahu are among the valuable items in the museum. Panduwasanuwara is a ideal location to have an idea on the ground plan of a medieval Sinhalese royal palace with meda midula or court yard and fortifications.

Development of Panduwasanuwara

Hettipola and Panduwasanuwara sacred area will be developed attract more tourists in the future. Panduwasanuwara is a very valuable archeological site with historical value. The program will be launched by the Ministry of Local Government and the Panduwasnuwara Pradesheeya Sabha. Panduwasnuwara is located in the Kurunegala district in the western province.

Kurunegala district has the potential to become important tourist destination because there are many archeological sites around Kurunegala. Kurunegala is being used for adventure tourism already there are few locations that are suitable for adventure tourism. Poor infrastructure is identified as a challenge to develop the city. Therefore the cities in the district will be developed by the respective Provincial Councils and Ministry of Local Government. Under program local government institutions are helped to improve the infrastructure.

The permission for the program given by the ministers of the cabinet in a meeting held recently. A sum of twenty million rupees allocated for the project and funds are allocated from the 2012 budget.