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|Year and Month||2013 June 02nd
2016 April 26th
|Number of Days||Few separate days|
|Crew||Somawathiya temple-I have been there with different crowds in different occasions
Accessory stupa (පරිවාර ස්තූප) around Somawathiya: Sudesh, Indranatha, Myself and seven others (few people who knows the area and their friends)
|Guide||Need to visit at acesssory stupa of Somawathiya|
|Activities||Archeology, Photography and Wild life|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Somawathiya temple (Somawathi Chethiya) is one of the popular places among Buddhist devotees. The right sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha was kept at Somawathi stupa. (The left sacred tooth relic is found at Dalada Maligawa-Kandy). Most of the tourists come to Polonnaruwa don’t forget to visit at Somawathi Chethiya which is situated 40km from Polonnaruwa ancient kingdom.
History of Somawathi Temple
Prince Giri-Aba (ගිරි අබා) (2nd century BC) and princes Somawathi (සෝමාවතී දේවිය) (sister of King Kawanthissa) has built this stupa at “Somapura” (සෝම පුර) which was a sub kingdom situated closer to Mahaweli River. They have requested from Mahinda Maha Thero for some “Dathu” (ධාතු) to be kept in the relic chamber of stupa. Mahinda Maha Thero has visited “Naga Lokaya” (නාග ලෝකය) and brought right sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha to be deposited at stupa. After completion of Somawathi Chethiya and six vihara, prince and princes handed over to Mahinda Maha Thero and sixty other Thero.
Though Somawathi temple was built on the eastern bank of Mahaweli River, currently it is seen on the western bank of the river due to change of the course of the river.
Somawathi stupa was renovated and developed under many kings of Rajarata. The temple premises with stupa got lost in the forest and rediscovered in 1947. It is not mentioned even in Polonnaruwa era. Archeologists have found four moonstones, flower pedestals and “Siripa Gal” around ancient Somawathi stupa.
They have found nine stone inscriptions around the site. Four of them situated on Eric Swan Rock situated on right hand side of the road from Polonnaruwa, few kilometers away from Somawathi Stupa.
Eric Swan Rock/ “Dig gala” (දිග් ගල)
This longitudinal rock is situated on right hand side of the road from Polonnaruwa, about 1km before Somawathi temple. It got this name because a photographer called Eric Swan was killed by a wild elephant near this rock. He used to visit on this rock frequently.
There are number of inscriptions found on this rock mentioning commercial laws, taxes to Somawathi Temple etc.
Journey to accessory stupa of Somawathi stupa.
The forest reserve situated around Somawathi Chethiya called Somawathi forest reserve. It is the flood plains of Mahaweli River, similar to Flood plains national park situated southern to Manampitiya Bridge. According to folk there are many ruins situated at this forest reserve. One of them is accessory stupas of main Somawathi stupa. (There are seven accessory stupa).
Ashan has drawn my attention for the TV programme on accessory stupa of Somawathi Chethiya. I found a trekker to visit at Somawathi forest reserve but Ashan couldn’t join with us on that day.
We started the journey from Polonnaruwa and entered Somawathiya forest reserve via BOP 400 area. (Akkara 400)-අක්කර හාරසීය. There were two people who know the forest reserve very well.
First we entered the forest after crossing a branch of Mahaweli River. After walking about 1km we reached to the site where one of accessory stupas situated. Unfortunately it has been excavated by treasure hunters. There were some ruins I captured. Second site was situated on a rock where engraved steps could be seen. There were traces of recent activities of treasure hunters. They have blasted a part of the rock. Third site of ruins consists of ruins of a stupa and some rock slabs.
After visiting these places we reached a canal which drains to Mahaweli River and have cooked our lunch there. Then we crossed the river again to reach the village where we parked our vehicles.
Somawathiya at night
As Somawathiya is an important place among Buddhist pilgrimages there are devotees even in the night. These are the pictures of Somawathiya temple at night.
According to description there are three Somawathi temples in Sri Lanka.
1. Famous Somawathi Chethiya at Polonnaruwa-Above mentioned
2. Dambulu Somawathi Temple (දඹුළු සෝමාවතිය)
3. Ruhunu Somawathi Temple (රුහුණු සෝමාවතිය)-Found in Somawathi Forest reserve on other side of the River. Some archeologists believe this as the correct Somawathi Chethiya of ancient Sri Lanka. Still I couldn’t visit there.
Thanks for reading