Muthugala, a quiet dry zone village situated in the Welikanda Divisional Secretariat in the Polonnaruwa District is a paradise of nature where man and wilderness live side by side. This untapped archaeological heritage of the ancient Sinhalese lies in the forests boardering the village and the Flood Plains National Park along the Mahaweli Ganga. To arrive here, one needs to arrive at Sewanapitiya junction which is 18km from Kanduruwela on the Batticaloa road and from there turn left on the road running along the canal, proceeding about a kilometer on this turn left once more along with the branching off of the canal. From there proceed along this for 5km passing lush green fields and home gardens to the village of Muthugala; from there turn left from the school along the bund of a small tank till the road ends at the forest, from there is an off road track which is a 10 minute hike to the site. The remains of the forest monetary is spread throughout that area on the rock outcrops surrounded by willus created by the Mahaweli River.
The main objective was to create a scale drawing of the architectural feature identified from Satellite images using the data taken from a field survey of the area. The secondary objective being the proper identification of the site using the archaeological evidence from the excavations.
The Balana pass, the key to the Kandyan Kingdom was a pass on the southern edge of the Alagalla Mountain range from which ran the old Colombo Kandy road giving access to the mountain kingdom. This was the most important pass in the Kingdom with the other being at Galagedara, as the road coming from the lower plains climbs over a thousand feet in less than a mile over the pass to the plateau of the central highlands. The hill of Balana, being over 600m (GPS - N 7° 16.18116 & E 80° 29.77146) above sea level, fell under the ancient administrative division of the Four Korale (Sathara Korale) in the Galboda pattuwa. Balana is mentioned in the Trisinhale Kadaim Potha as being the boundary line which separated the Four Korales from the Uda Rata, and the maintenance of this post fell onto the Dissave of the Four Korales. Today Balana falls under the Central Province and is the also the boundary line between the Sabaragamuwa and the Central Provinces. Balana was a key point in the old road to Kandy (From Colombo via Kotte and Kaduwela to Sitavaka, Ruwanwella, Arandara, Attapitiya, Ganetanna and over Balana to Gannoruwa) which many a foreigner had written about its difficult climb.
The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.
My research into the remains of the Fort of Colombo led me to identify 7 locations in total which all belongs to the Dutch built fort. The previous article dealt with my identification of 3 sections of the Dutch fort lying within the Navy Headquarters; that is the entire Dan Briel bastion, the Postern gate known as the Slave port and sections of the rampart from Dan Briel bastion to Amsterdam bastion. In this article I would discuss the remaining 4 locations.
Sri Lanka is home to several Dutch forts found throughout the island in varying size; much of the Dutch forts have survived the ages and some being in the mint condition such as the massive Galle Fort which is a World Heritage Site. Another interesting fort known to many is the Jaffna fort situated in the heart of the Jaffna town bordering the lagoon. Out of the other Dutch forts, the Jaffna fort is the most geometrically perfect, being of an equal sided pentagon with five bastions in the corners and would have been the third largest Dutch fort in the island after Galle and Colombo.
Historical researches undoubtedly require reference to original sources; at present much of the original literature on Sri Lanka both local and foreign have been reproduced and translated into the present vernacular. This tedious task has no doubt aided the modern student of history to dig through original works of literature with much ease. Contributions of Donald William Ferguson in the areas of Portuguese history are a landmark in scholarship in the country and there is scarcely a student or writer of Sri Lankan history who has not benefited by the penetrating researches of Donald Ferguson.
Passes and bastions are important elements of fortifications. The Passes, large and small give access to and from a fort and at times of war would be heavily guarded. Bastions are fortified projections on the ramparts of a fort from which defenders could easily defend the rampart as well as attack enemies due to its wide angle of fire. The fortress of Kotte was equipped with both these elements.
The harbour of Kolon Thota or Colombo was a prominent port in ancient Sri Lanka and from the 15th century onwards it was the principle port of the country due to its proximity to the Capital city of Kotte. With the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, they made Colombo their main center establishing a large city over time. The succeeding European colonists, the Dutch and British too made Colombo their center.
The Pettah, located in the heart of Colombo bordering the Colombo harbor and the commercial hub Fort was once part of the colonial Dutch city of Colombo which was the center of administration of the Dutch. The Pettah during the Dutch period was known as the Oude Stad or Old City and formed the residential quarters of the city which the bordered the Castle or the Dutch Fort of Colombo on the west.
Archaeology, the scientific study of the material remains of the human past is a unique field in where the participant while digging up the past is exposed to an array of diverse cultures and environments. It is a field that requires a strict discipline in conducting one’s self as the vehicle of archaeology would drive one to various places of the world, meet different people of different cultures and changing environments. For the lover of history and nature, this could be a very satisfying experience to the soul as archaeology binds one to these two aspects thereby creating a character more open to the diversity of humanity.
The Martello Tower is a type of fortification constructed by the British in the 19th century. This was a small round fortification of about 20-25 feet in height and could garrison up to 20 – 30 men. Their round structure made it resistant to bombardment and was generally suited for coastal defense. The design originated from around fortified tower at ‘Mortella’ point in the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, which was garrisoned by the French; the British impressed by its resistance to their naval assault on the tower in February 1794 studied its design and adapted its defensive properties in their own strategies after 1796.
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