Kings of Sri Lanka 62 AD – 131 AD
King Vasabha First Lambakanna King (62 AD – 106 AD)
King Vasabha after capturing power from Subha, asked the fortune teller who predicted his ascension to power how long would he rule the country. The fortune teller said he would rule the country for twelve years. Unhappy with this prediction, King Vasabha asked Mahasangha, how to prolong his life. Mahasangha stated by conducting meritorious deeds, he would be able to prolong his life. Hearing this, King started a major campaign to construct temples and reservoirs. He had thousand lamps lighted in Mahathupa, Thuparama, Great Bodhi Tree and Chetiya Pabbatha. He restored many ruined Viharas and stupas. He built a huge wall around the city to protect it from enemy attack. (According to Mahavamsa Tika, the wall was approximately 27 feet high).
King Vasabha constructed twelve reservoirs and twelve canals.
Rajavaliya provides the full list of the twelve reservoirs built by King Vasabha:
Nitupatuna, Kebagalureru, Manikaveti, Kelani kolonna, Kalivasama, Mangunna, Alavadunna, Radupulla, Kalusilubala, Makulla, Vadunna, Abivudunna
King Vasabha constructed bathing tanks inside the city. He built tunnels to bring water to them. During the time of King Vasabha, the country was prosperous. King Vasabha ruled the country for forty four years.
(Author’s Note: King Vasabha is the first Lambakanna King to capture power from the Sihala. Mahavamsa clearly differentiate Lambakannas from Sihala. Later, long line of Kings spun out from the Lambakannas. With time, Lambakannas lost their distinct identity and became part of the majority Sihala. King Vasabha is considered to be one of the hardest working Kings of all time. Water tunnel built by King Vasabha has not been found. If Mahavamsa is correct, Vasabha’s tunnel would be the world’s first water tunnel).
Gold plate inscription was found in Vallipuram with information regarding the construction of a Vihara by the minister of Nagadipa.
“Siddha! (Hail) In the reign of the great King Vahaba and when the minister Isigiriya was governing Nakadiva (Nagadeepa), Piyaguka Tissa caused a Vihara to be built at Badakara Stana”
“Siddha, Maharaja Vahaya Rajehi Amathe
Isigiriya Nakadiva Bujameni
Badakara atanehi Piyaguka Tissa
(Ref: Epigraphia Zeylanica – Volume IV –Don Martino De Zilva Wikramasinghe)
Great Elahara Canal:
King Vasabha started construction of the Great Elahara canal that brings water from Amban Ganga and feeds hundreds of reservoirs including Minneri, Girithale and Kanthalai reservoirs. Obviously most of these reservoirs did not exist during King Vasabha’s time period. Elahara canal was later extended to the today’s length of 54 miles by greatest reservoir builder of the ancient world, King Mahasen. (See under King Mahasen for the description of the Elahara canal).
Vanka Nasika Tissa (106 AD – 109 AD)
After the death of King Vasabha, his son Vanaka Nasika Tissa (Literally – Round Nosed Tissa) became the King. King Vanka Nasika Tissa built a Vihara named Mahamangala.
King Gajabahu (109 AD – 131 AD)
After the death of Vanka Nasika Tissa, his son Gajabahuka Gamini (or popularly known as Gajabahu) came to power. King Gajabahu built Abhayuttara Thupa and Gaminitissa reservoir.
Story of 12,000 slaves and Warrior Neela: (not mentioned in Mahavamsa)
King Gajabahu had a habit of wondering in the city at night. One day when he was walking along a road, he heard a woman crying. King marked a cross on the door and left. Next day King sent his soldiers and brought the woman to his castle. King asked the woman why she was crying. The woman stated that her two sons and twelve thousand others were taken as slaves by a Damila King. Hearing this, King Gajabahu and warrior Neela went to Jambudeepa (India). Warrior Neela used his yagadha (heavy steel pole) to move water in the sea. King Gajabahu went to the land of Damilas and waged war. After winning many battles in Damila country, he brought the twelve thousand Sihala prisoners and additional twelve thousand Damila prisoners. According to ancient Chola inscriptions, King Gajabahu attended a Patthini Puja in South India with the Chola monarch. This confirms King Gajabahu’s visit to the Chola country.
( From Rajavaliya )
(As per Codrington – Ref. Ancient India, S. Krishnaswami Aiyanagar, 1911, p. 363 and Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society C.B xiii, No. 44, p 81, and JRAS No. 45 pg 144).