The holy city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, is a place unlikely to be the setting for a fascinating tale of flying objects and other mundane events.
Known locally as Rajaratta (Land of the Kings), this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the first kingdom founded on the island (in 377 BC) and is located at the heart of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture.
Today, it is one of the most visited places nationwide, attracting devoted pilgrims from all over the country to ancient Buddhist temples and giant dome-shaped towers (monuments).
Ranmasu Uyana is a former park of 16 hectares that includes the ruins of bathing pavilions. Photo: Sri Lanka Tourism via BBC
But this holy city is also home to something even more curious. Here, in Ranmasu Uyana (Golden Fish Park), an ancient urban park of 16 hectares surrounded by three Buddhist temples, there is an inscription supposed to be a map to reveal the secrets of the universe.
The Shaqraya scaffold (which translates to “the cycle of the universe”) is about 1.8 meters in diameter, and is hewn into the surface of a boulder among the protected park ruins. The front facade can only be seen from ground level.
In fact, four seats are carved into the flat rocky surface in front of the dashboard, providing an ideal viewing area.
Both the inscription and the benches, which are also of obscure origin, have intrigued historians, archaeologists and academics for more than a century.
“Ranmasu Uyana has been in use for a long time in history,” says Raj Somadeva, professor of archeology at Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka.
“The second major phase of development appears to have begun in the seventh century A.D. During this period several new buildings were added to the layout of the previous garden. The painting could have been a work from this period, but it is impossible to tell by reason of its existence, function or anything else Nothing about him is mentioned in any of the historical records, meticulously kept by Buddhist monks.”
Although little is known about the painting and its purpose, the iconography does not correspond to other reliefs from the Anuradhapura period (3-10 centuries CE).
The center of the graph consists of seven concentric circles divided by parallel horizontal and vertical lines. Rectangular chambers contain small intersecting circles.
For the novice eye, there are shapes resembling umbrellas or a bow and arrow, a kite, wavy lines and cylindrical shapes. The outer ring represents marine animals: fish, turtles and seahorses.
When compared to other sculptures from the same period, such as Sandakada Pahana, which depicts vines, swans, and lotus flower, all typical elements of Buddhist iconography, the painting does not have a religious context – that is, it does not have a clear explanation of why. This.
This left him completely open to online speculation. Before the advent of the Internet, drawing attracted little interest in Sri Lanka.
Sakwala Chakraya has been interpreted in many ways: as a cosmic map, a star gate, and a building blueprint. Photo: Sahan Pereira of the BBC
It is believed that he survived here, hiding on the edge of a rock, after the fall of the kingdom of Anuradhapura; Nothing remarkable compared to its picturesque surroundings, such as the so-called double lakes and bathing pavilions which could have been used by kings.
In fact, if the aliens got to Earth here, they could not have chosen a better location – the sacred temple area, surrounded by a dense tropical forest, uninhabited and protected by the authorities.
The first researcher to note the archaeological significance of the inscription was HCB Bell, a British government official appointed as Commissioner for Antiquities from Ceylon (formerly Sri Lanka).
Bell included a description of the plate in his 1911 report to the governor of Ceylon, in which he concluded: “This ancient world map, perhaps the oldest in existence, is of extraordinary importance. Its existence … bears witness to antiquity. Astronomical knowledge is still required in the Some Buddhist monasteries in Ceylon”.
Although the diagram does not resemble a map in the modern sense, Bell writes that it represents “an ancient cosmic map that illustrates the most simple Buddhist conceptions of the universe.”
Interpret the circles, symbols, and marine life in the chart, based on his knowledge of island Buddhism, such as Earth, seas, outer space, and the universe.
While discussions about the app for many years were confined primarily to academia due to its historically significant position, the proliferation of image sharing on social media in recent years has put the mystery in the global spotlight.
Eagle-eyed tourists have noticed similarities between the painting at Anuradhapura and similar historical sites in other countries that some consider star gates – ancient portals through which humans could enter the universe.
Their theory is that the inscription contains the secret code to open the gate.
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Conspiracy theorists have noted that the “star gate” at Anuradhapura had almost identical shapes and symbols to those at Abu Ghorab, Egypt, and the Hyu Marka Gate, Peru.
The most striking similarity, they said, when speculation about the Stargate in Sri Lanka was at its height, was its proximity to water.
The nearby Tissa Wafa reservoir, built in 300 BC, was released as conclusive evidence, as the Abu Crow and the Hayu Marka gate were also built near the water, which, according to the stargate theory, allowed aliens to process gold from Earth’s waters.
This theory is reinforced by the painting’s proximity to Mount Danigala, also known as Alien Mountain, in the nearby holy city of Polonnaruwa.
Danigala, located deep in the jungle and popular with trail enthusiasts, has a uniquely rounded shape and a completely flat top.
This led online investigators to conclude that the mountain must have been used, in the past, for landing UFOs.
Interestingly, according to Sri Abiwikrama, a local tour guide, “Locals believe that Mount Alien attracts more meteors, thunder and lightning above it than anywhere else.”
However, according to Sumadeva, “there are few archaeological traces that indicate that it is a star gate.”
Instead, he thinks the most reasonable conclusion is that the painting is an ancient map of the world, Bell suggested, because this interpretation has a logical cosmological and religious context, given the period and place in time.
According to Sumadeva, “Since at least 250 BC, the Sinhalese had a clear idea of the objects in the sky and outer space.”
“In the oldest Brahmi inscriptions, found in Sri Lanka, there are many names referring to stars and specific concepts related to astronomy.”
“One of the inscriptions at Kirinda, a historical and religious site on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, contains the words ‘aparimita loka datuya’, which means ‘the infinite universe’. This indicates that the person who recorded it had a very good knowledge of the nature of the universe in which he lived.” .
However, Shireen Almendra, professor of landscapes at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, offers a different, more grounded perspective.
“I think Sakwala Chakraya is the blueprint for a complex project that is similar to the huge towers that were being built at that time,” she says.
“I tend to think it was a factory of Sigiriya.”
Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous ancient attractions, a 5th century BC rock fortress filled with running water, landscaped gardens, and various rooms.
It is located just half an hour away from Anuradhapura, in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, which consists of three important ancient cities: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy.
“Considering that the sculpted seats in the front of the dashboard look a little towards each other, it makes me think it was a place for discussion—an old architectural office, if you will,” she says.
“If the benches had been built for religious purposes, such as meditation, they would have been upright.”
According to Sumadeva, the biggest challenge in determining the function of the graph was the lack of evidence to date it properly.
Although Ranmasu Uyana and other parks and towers of Anuradhapura are mentioned in records and inscriptions dating back to 250 BC, Sakwala Chakraya is not described in any historical record.
“There was certainly a practical use for this diagram,” he says, “but it’s hard to tell what it could have been when we can’t date it properly.”
As such, Sri Lanka’s mysterious “stargate” appears to remain shrouded in mystery – its purpose and meaning still lost in time.
However, the newly acquired cult status among science fiction buffs finally gave the commission the audience’s well-deserved attention.
With their enthusiasm and the power of social media, Sakwala Chakraya has finally emerged from the shadows of the mighty Anuradhapura to shine on her own.