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Temple

Dedigama Kota Vehera

  Province Sabaragamuwa
  District Kagalle
  Nearest Town Nelundeniya
  Period 1153 – 1186 A.D.
  Ruler king Parakramabahu

Introduction

This stupa has been built by king Parakramabahu the Great ( 1153-1186A.D.) as a memorial on the location he was born.

This stupa has not being subject to any major renovation but during excavations it has been found that the stupa is built on top of another smaller stupa. The smaller stupa was found closer to the pesa walalu on the eastern side. This was 36 feet in diameter. It has been found that that both these stupas has been built around the same time. It is believed that the smaller stupa has been built on the exact place there the birth took place and and then a bigger stupa was built around it. The diameter of the bigger stupa is 256 feet and it is 47 feet high. The top of the stupa is flat and covers about 26,000 square feet.

Although it is unknown what relic was enshrined in this stupa, a massive amount of relics have been recovered in it 10 relic chambers. Out of these, the most significant is the Metal Elephant Lampo.

History

In 1070 prince Vijayabahu defeated the Chola invaders who ruled Polonnaruwa and brought the country under a single ruler. While he made his capital Polonaruwa, his sister Mitta's son Manabharana was appointed as a sub-king in Ruhuna. His wife Ratnavali was the daughter of King Vijayabahu I. Later a prince called Veerabahu invaded the Ruhuna region and Manabharana escaped to Dedigama then called Punkagama. Manabharana then ruled the Maya Region with Dedigama as the administrative capital. It is here when the queen Rathnavali delivered the baby boy who later became the Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186).

This stupa has been built by king Parakramabahu the Great ( 1153-1186) as a memorial on the location he was born.

Although it is unknown what relic was enshrined in this stupa, a massive amount of relics have been recovered in it 10 relic chambers. Out of these, the most significant is the metal Elephant Lamp.

Dedigama's Elephant Lamp

An Ingenious Creation

Dedigama is world famous for its elephant lamp. Two of these lamps similar in design were found buried in the relic chamber of the Sutighara Cetiya of Dedigama. This unique archaeological exhibit, gives an insight into the advanced state of technological development during the reign of King Parakramabahu. The lamp belongs to the twelfth century A.D.The elephant lamp is an ingenious creation of an unknown craftsman. The lamps are of the hanging type and of a unique design.

A figure of an elephant carrying a rider on its shoulder predominates the oil receptacle. The hollow of the elephant's stomach serves as a vessel and a reservoir for the oil, while one of the elephant's forelegs serves as a funnel for pouring in the oil. The elephant figure stands in the middle of a basin which can also be filled with oil. When the level of the oil in the basin goes down below the level of the hole in the foreleg of the elephant which serves as a funnel, a mechanical devise based on hydrostatic principles causes the oil to flow into the receptacle through the genital organ of the elephant, and the flow automatically ceases when the oil again reaches the level of the elephant's feet.

Interestingly a lamp with an oil reservoir working on hydrostatic principles with oil pouring out of the beak of a bird is found in the Indian Section of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The chain of the lamp too is modelled with the greatest artistic skill - it being incorporated with the figures of female dancers and drummers.

The torana or the archway under which the elephant figure stands is also of fine work.

Many scholars worldwide have accepted that the standard of plastic moulding of the elephant and rider, the torana, the chain and the lamp itself are of the highest order, and shows a very high standard of achievement.