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Velgam Vehera

Trincomalee, East Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Trincomalee
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Overview
15 km from Trincomalee off the Trincomalee-Horowpothana road stands the ancient Velgam Vehera temple dating back to 2 AD. Hindus know it as the Natanar Kovil, and in 992 AD the invading Cholas from India who were enemies of the Buddhist faith destroyed the temple. It was later rebuilt with contributions and donations of the very people that destroyed it, restoring it as Buddhist Temple.
Among the many ancient Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka, Velgam Vehera, also called Natanar Kovil by the Tamils, stands out as the only known example of a ‘Tamil Vihare’ or ‘Buddhist Palli’ or as the late Dr. Senerath Paranavithana described it in his delightfully informative book ‘Glimpses of Ceylon’s Past,’ as a “Buddhist shrine of the Tamil people”. Some of the Tamil inscriptions found at the site record donations to this shrine and are dated in the reigns of the Chola Kings, Rajaraja and Rajendradeva.
Velgam Vehera was first inspected by the Archaeological Department in 1929. It was declared an archaeological reserve in 1934 but it was only 20 years later that clearing was undertaken. Two conspicuous mounds at the site proved to be a stupa in ruins and a brick built image house. As clearing was extended, the ground plan of a fascinating building complex and architectural remains of an impressive character were uncovered.

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