ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53
Funday Times - Mahawamsa

The end of Kalinga Magha

By Halaliye Karunathilake
Edited and translated by Niluka De Silva
Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila

~This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history~

1. King Parakramabahu II got organized for a major battle. He got everything ready hastily. Those were very busy days for the king and his Yuvaraja Buwanekabahu was always with him, helping him in whatever way he could. The Yuvaraja was fully committed to his task. He was a great Sinhala leader who was very nationalistic in his deeds. All other warriors too did their best. One and all they were all prepared even to sacrifice their lives to win the freedom for the country.

2. Time passed. The Sinhala soldiers were mastering martial arts. They were physically strong. The king was greatly pleased to witness all this. The auspicious hour arrived. The army of King Parakramabahu II set out on their march towards 'Pihiti-rata.' There were a number of check points put up by the Keralas on this route. King Parakramabahu's army destroyed them all. By this time, there were about 40,000 Kerala soldiers in the country. They were real warriors but the Sinhala army was skilled enough to face them. They started attacking the Kerala camps,
left and right.

3. This was no easy task. The Sinhala soldiers did not retreat. They used all their strategies until the Kerala soldiers were completely weakened. The Sinhala forces were victorious. All Kerala camps were destroyed. Ultimately they reached Polonnaruwa, besieged the city and began to attack. Before long the Polonnaruwa kingdom was won by Parakramabahu II.

4. In this battle, it is not only the Sinhala soldiers who were within the city that joined the army, but also the Tamil soldiers. The combined army defeated Magha completely. This happened in 1255 AD. Being defeated, Kalinga Magha and his second in command Gajabahu planned to flee. They collected whatever valuables they could and secretly left Polonnaruwa, with the idea of going overseas. They lost their way. Mistaking the Western gate for the Eastern, they left and that is how they lost their way. They were wandering

5. Ultimately both of them came to the Kalawewa area. Unfortunately for them, there was a huge camp of the Sinhala army. Magha and Gajabahu were badly trapped. The Sinhala soldiers took their valuables, beat them thoroughly and finally killed them. The foreign rule which lasted for over 40 years thus came to an end. The most cruel ruler of Sri Lanka is said to have been Kalinga Magha. Our chronicles do not give any details about his death.

6. They do not even mention the names of the warriors who killed them. Even 'Dambadeni Asna' carries very little details. It only says that the army of King Parakramabahu II, killed Magha. However, what the king expected out of all this, never came to pass. Not a single temple of either Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa was even repaired.

7. Whatever the chronicles record, there are other historians who hold a different opinion. According to them, the Pandya king had helped in this battle. Magha's army had to retreat towards the west because the Pandyans blocked their march. The stiff attacks they had to face from the North and East were from the Pandyan soldiers. King Parakramabahu would have given them expensive gifts.

8. However, as the entire 'Raja-rata' was not freed completely, the king did not go to live there. It is during this time, around 1258 AD, in the 22nd year of his rule, the king was afflicted with an incurable disease.

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