June 05, Kilinochchi: Sri Lanka Army troops conducting routine operations have come across a site with scattered ruins of a Buddhist temple in the former LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi, the Army said Wednesday.
At the request of Commander of Security Forces Headquarters in Kilinochchi, Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, a team of archaeologists has arrived at the site and begun extensive investigations.
According to the Army, the archaeologists have unearthed several Buddhist artefacts belong to the historic Polonnaruwa era including slates, ancient bricks and Sri Pada symbols in excavations carried out in Kilinochchi, Sivanagar and Uriththirapuram.
They have succeeded in finding ruins, identical to a Pagoda of 60 ft in diameter and about 12 ft in height, stacks of ancient layers of bricks, slates with Sri Pada symbol, stone posts with prints of Sri Pada in the middle, etc, all the hallmarks that confirm the existence of a Buddhist temple in the Polonnaruwa period.
The archaeologists have declared the site a sacred site, pending further excavations, extensive research and comprehensive evaluation, alerting the security forces as well as government authorities of the new discovery.
According to the information Army obtained from the residents, a small Pulleyar Kovil had occupied the site from the 1940s and been replaced by the Shivam Kovil which was built in 1980s and is still standing.
A Kurukkal (chief priest) in 1965 while clearing the jungles around a Kovil had found a Pagoda, some Buddha statues, stone carvings as well as a Bo tree in the premise but the LTTE who controlled the area for nearly 30 years have allegedly destroyed the Buddhist artifacts.
It has been found that a 4 to 6 foot tall Samadhi Buddha statue and a statue of a lion plus a moonstone had existed at the site. The terrorists had however felled the Bo tree and replaced it with a Palmyrah tree later on before the place was called 'Nagalingam'.
Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commander, SFHQ-KLN, Colonel N.P Akuranthilake, 662 Brigade Commander and several senior officers visited the location soon after its discovery by troops serving there.