|Kotmale Maha Seya
Mr. Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water-Management held a series of religious ceremonies including All-Night Pirith Chanting and the offering of alms to Maha Sangha in the premises of the Sacred Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura to invoke blessings before recommencing Maha-Seya construction work.
Kotmale Valley has from very early days on, been a prosperous settlement. Over and above this, the valley is picturesque and alluring nestling above 5500 feet above sea-level.
The ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka associate this region with the heroic monarch of this land King Dutugemunu. The chroniclers describe with marked relish how young Prince Gamini spent his youth in Kotmale valley. There is a view that states, that Prince Gamini came over to this region to acquire weapons for his planned military campaign. This implies that various minerals and metals existed in this area. Metalworkers of great skill practiced their craft in Kotmale region at that time. Even today, there are artisans excelling in the making of iron and steel products. Whatever that may be in ancient times, as much as today, the main economic pursuit of the people was paddy cultivation. When we delve into the history of this area, Kotmale is referred to, for the first time in the Sinhala classic Pujavaliya. The name Kotmale is given as "Kottumala". In the "Dambadeni Asna", (1363-1325) Sinhala Bodhi Wansa (1303-1337) Daladasiritha (1325) also refers to Kotmale.
Kotmale is one of the Korales which belonged to the ancient Sinhala Kingdom. It consisted of Tispane, Medapane, Pallepane and Ramboda. Its main town was Punduluoya.
According to the chronicles, the Tooth Relic that had been concealed in Kotmale was taken to Dambadeniya in the reign of King Vijayabahu the Third (1232-1236). Kotmale is referred to in the narration of the reigns of King Wickramabahu the Third (1357-1374) and Rajasinghe the First.
Today, the valley of Kotmale assumes a special significance, because of the great reservoir that has been constructed there. The reservoir is part of the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project. The reservoir was built at the highest sea-level in this country.
It could be considered a gesture of destiny that Mr. Gamini Dissanayake the pioneer in the implementation of the Mahaweli Development Project should construct the Kotmale reservoir in the Kotmale valley, where he himself was born. He was prompted to allow the villages and lands, in which he grew up and roamed about as a child to be inundated by such a massive reservoir, undoubtedly, because he fully and far-sightedly realised the tremendous benefit the reservoir will render to the people of this land.
The state has decided to name the Kotmale reservoir after Gamini Dissanayake as a tribute and in memory of this great personality, and "Yuga Purusha".
Kotmale reservoir that came into being due to the active national service of Gamini Dissanayake, provides water to the Dry Zone. In addition it supplies power to the whole-island. This way, Kotmale reservoir performs a crucial service to this country.
Thousands of people lost their homes and lands, because of this project. Hundreds of religious edifices also went under water. Their cultural heritage and sacred sites suffered the same fate. There were seven Buddhist temples which were directly affected by the constructing of Kotmale reservoir.
Gamini Dissanayake took steps to compensate these people and to re-settle them in lower and upper Kotmale Valley regions, as well as Bintenna Pattuwa (Mahaweli C) and Nuwara Kalaviya (Mahaweli H).
He felt the need to make amends for the cultural heritage and the sacred sites that went under water. As a symbol of the heritage people lost, he decided to construct Kotmale Maha Seya in the village of Kadadora. Historically, it is interesting to note that in the Kotmale Valley frequented by Prince Gamini that a modern Gamini should plan to construct a Maha-Seya. The intention of Gamini Dissanayake was to set up Mahaweli Maha Seya to mark the completion of the Victorious Mahaweli Project. The foundation laying ceremony for Mahaweli Maha Seya took place on 20th March 1983.
With due deference to the Great King Gemunu, it was decided by Gamini Dissanayake to build his Maha Seya a single foot less in height than the Great Ruwanveli Seya. Unfortunately, just as King Gemunu did not live to see the completion of his beloved Ruwanveli Seya, Gamini Dissanayake too could not see the completion of his beloved Kotmale Maha Seya. The onerous task of completing Kotmale Maha Seya has now devolved upon yet another Gamini. That is, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera - Minister of Irrigation and Water Management, who is committed and dedicated to complete the Mahaweli Maha Seya.
Mr. Gamini Dissanayake possessed the uncanny knack to select the right man for the right job. Once the two matched perfectly Mr. Dissanayake would not interrupt and had very little to do by way of supervision. Of the experts he identified for this construction effort, an outstanding personality was Engineering Wizard Vidyajothi Dr. A. N. S. Kulasinghe. He is still associated with this project.
Mahaweli Maha Seya project is the first construction of this magnitude ever to be undertaken by C.E.C.B. as a Design and Built Project by employing direct labour.
The Mahaweli Maha Seya envisages the construction of 61 m diameter, 280 mm thick. Shell-type Dome on 32 Nos. bored pile foundation of 1 m diameter, Square Chamber, Gods Chamber, Spire and Pinnacle forming a Dagaba; of total height 88 m at an estimated cost of 140 million Rupees in 1989.
The Swedish construction Giant Skanska helped the Maha Seya project lavishly. The team behind this work consisted of Central Engineering Construction Bureau (C.E.C.B.) and a whole series of outstanding personalities like P. T. Senaratne present Director-General Mahaweli Authority, H. B. Jayasekera, Chairman - C.E.C.B., who will be handling the new re-construction of the Mahaweli Maha Seya. The inspiring spiritual force behind Mahaweli Maha Seya Project has always been Ven. Tispane Jinananda Nayaka Thera.
The blessings of the continued series of religious rituals will no doubt ensure that
the Kotmale Maha Seya will be successfully completed speedily and efficiently with the
lavish funding it so pre-eminently deserves.
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