Ranmasu UyanaRemnants of Ancient Civilization or Proof of Alien Interaction?
A royal pleasure garden in the ancient city of Anuradhapura has caught the attention of modern engineers for its advanced hydraulic systems, and captured the imagination of extraterrestrial theorists as a place that possibly holds proof of space travel.
A civilization as old as Sri Lanka is bound to have elements of fantasy and the supernatural intertwined in its history, whether recorded in ancient texts or passed down the generations as stories and legends. More often than not, it is hard to draw a clear line between what is ‘real’ and what is fantastical. After all, who are we, with our limited knowledge of the universe, to determine if something happened the way we think it did thousands of years ago?
Sometimes it seems that we are more inclined to hold on to stories that are imaginative; stories that feature immortal gods and indestructible giants; stories that blur the line between the heavens and the earth. It helps us make sense of a past that we don’t have all the answers to; it helps us carry on, believing that certain things are beyond our comprehension because they are supernatural.
Stargate – A Doorway to the Universe?
The concept of a stargate features prominently in science fiction. It is loosely based on the concept of a wormhole – a phenomenon that links two points in space and time, allowing teleportation. There may be no evidence of a functioning stargate or doorway to the universe in the here and now. However, there are many who believe that stargates existed in the ancient world, bridging the gap between earth and the wide universe or the heavens where the gods dwell. These stargates are believed to be spread over several places on earth, in Egypt, Peru and Sri Lanka.
The ancient Sri Lankan kingdom of Anuradhapura holds an important place in the history of the island. It is considered to be the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, it is the first capital of the Sinhala kingdom, and its many historically and religiously significant structures have led to Anuradhapura being named a World Heritage Site. Another claim to fame for this already noteworthy city, is the Ranmasu Uyana – the location of the Sakwala Chakraya (loosely translated to wheel of the universe), which is deemed Sri Lanka’s very own stargate!
The Ranmasu Uyana in Anuradhapura
The Ranmasu Uyana is a forty acre royal garden located between the Isurumuniya monastery and the Tissa Wewa (reservoir) in Anuradhapura. It is believed to have been a pleasure garden and bathing complex for the monarchs of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, from about the 3rd century BC until the capital was abandoned during the 10th century AD. The name of the park can be dated back to the 10th century AD, to the Vessagiriya slab inscription of King Mahinda IV. In the inscription the park is referred to as Ranmasu Uyana, which translates to Gold Fish Park.
The history books, as well as remnants of structures from thousands of years ago, indicate that pleasure gardens were an integral part of Sri Lankan culture from as early as the 3rd century BC, being used by both royals, as well as monks and ascetics. Interestingly, according to eminent Sri Lankan archaeologist Prof. Senake Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka is in all probability the only South Asian country that has significant archaeological remains of formally laid out gardens – with the most prominent examples being the gardens of Sigiriya, gardens found in Polonnaruwa and the Ranmasu Uyana. Bandaranayake believes that the Ranmasu Uyana complex came under royal and monastic use during its long history.
The natural boulders and caves at the park are believed to have been used for meditation by monks of the nearby Isurumuniya monastery. Foundations of pavilions and garden structures can be seen elsewhere in the park, together with remnants of a pleasure chamber that overlooked the garden and pools. A number of bathing ponds can be found placed around the park, some of which are also equipped with chambers hewn from the rock, presumably for the royals to change. The hydraulic mechanism designed to irrigate these ponds, as well as the rest of the park, pumping water from the nearby Tissa Wewa, is testament to the clever skill and craftsmanship of the ancient architects and engineers.
The Sakwala Chakraya
The most contentious aspect of the Ranmasu Uyana is possibly the Sakwala Chakraya which can be found chiselled into the rock of a cave within the park. The circular diagram contains various shapes and figures which have been interpreted by scholars and enthusiasts in numerous ways.
H. C. P. Bell, the first Commissioner of Archaeology in Ceylon, suggested that this diagram could be an ‘ancient map of the worlds – perhaps the oldest in existence’, thus testifying to the ‘antiquity of the astronomical lore pursued in the Buddhist monasteries of Ceylon’. Others have commented that it was carved for the benefit of meditating monks, or that it was a simple blueprint for some type of construction.
The more imaginative explanation is that the diagram is a star chart, with the symbols representing a code that opens a stargate, allowing travel across the universe. This line of thinking, links the Sakwala Chakraya to the Abu Gharib Sun Temple in Egypt and the ‘Gateway to the Gods’ in Peru, all of which are considered to be portals used by extraterrestrials to visit earth thousands of years ago.
However, many academics and archaeologists, including Prof. Raj Somadeva of the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology in Sri Lanka, have said that the stargate theory is absurd and greatly lacking a logical basis. Furthermore, these scholars believe that attempting to link the Sakwala Chakraya with Egypt is problematic, as it attempts to undermine Sri Lanka’s national heritage by insinuating that it is an offshoot of Egyptian civilization. The sentiment shared by many who oppose the stargate theory is that assuming it is the knowledge shared by intelligent other worldly species that helped the old masters build and engineer things we cannot understand even today, is a disservice to the talent, prudence and immense skill of the ancient craftsmen.
Whichever theory you choose to believe, the truth of the matter is that we will never fully comprehend the meaning and purpose of the Sakwala Chakraya. It is left to us to interpret and make sense of this small carving from thousands of years ago, and maybe just let our imaginations run a little wild!
Bandaranayake, Senake., Amongst Asia’s Earliest Surviving Gardens: the Royal and Monastic Gardens at Sigiriya and Anuradhapura.
Cassim, Aysha Maryam., Ranmasu Uyana – The Pleasure Gardens of the Royals
Bell, H.C.P., Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: North Central and Central Provinces. Annual Report: 1901.
Briggs, Phillip., Sri Lanka.
Gunerathne, Amalshan., Ran Masu Uyana: Fact and fiction