The Jaffna peninsula is mentioned in History for the first time connection with the story of the Buddha`s visit to Sri Lanka. There it is mentioned as Nagadipa. There is no doubt whatsoever in the identification of Jaffna Peninsula as the ancient Nagadipa. The modern Sinhalese word Yapane is a variant form of the Sinhalese word Yapapatuna which occurs in Sinhalese literature. The Tamil word Yalpanam is a Tamil translation of the Sinhalese word Yapane.
The ancient inhabitants of Jaffna were Nagas and the ruling family is said to have been related to the ruling Naga family at Kelaniya. Therefore there is no doubt that the inhabitants then were Sinhalese who had a ruling family connected to a Sinhalese royal family is another part of the island.
The Buddha is said to have consecrated a site for worship and tohave planted a Kiripalu tree. KiŠng Bhatikatissa (2nd century A.D.) built a relic house at the foot of the Kiripalu tree. Aggbodhi II (6th century A.D.) made benefactions to the same vihara.
Jambukola was the port which the envoys of Devanampiyatissa set forth to India. The landing of the sacred Bodhi Tree with Sanghamitta too took place at the same port in Jaffna. The site has been identified as modern Sambilturai near Kankasanturai. At the moment a monument has been constructed by the department of Archaeology at the site to commemorate the incident. A temple was built and a sapling was planted at the site by King Devanampiyatissa. Vijayabahu I (11th century) repaired the Jambukola vihara. This proves the fact that even up the 11th century the Sinhalese Kings had extended their royal authority to Jaffna continuously.
Tissamahavihara built by Devanampiyatissa was repaired by Kanitthatissa (2nd century A.D.) and was improved by Voharika Tissa (3rd century A.D.). A vihara called Pacinarama was also built by Devanampiyatissa.
Vasabhas Gold plate found at Vallipuram near Point Pedro mentions a minister named Piyaguka Tissa who built a vihara. As the word Piyaguka is identical with Piyagudipa where 12,000 monks are said to have resided, this particular minister must have hailed from Piyangudipa which has been identified without any doubt as modern Panguduitva. This fact proves that the peninsula and its environs have been occupied by Sinhalese people during the 1st century A.D.
Mangala vihara which was in the North was restored by Dhatusena (5th cen.A.D.). King Mallaka Naga too founded a vihara called Salipabbata vihara in Nagadipa.
A Cola inscript on of the 8th year of Rajadhiraja II mentions the preparation made at a port called Urattunai which is the Uratota in the Sinhalese chronicle and literature. The site is modern Kayts. This is a very important piece of evidence to prove that Jaffna was under the control of Sinhalese Kings even during 12th century. Ports at Vallikaman (Valigama) and Mattuvil are also mentioned in the campaigns on Prakramaahu I. Valigama is mentioned in Sigiri Graffitti where a Sinhalese person had visited Sigiri and had inscribed a Graffitti in Sinhala which proves that during the eight century the Valikamen area had been populated by the Sinhalese.
The Tamilisation of Jaffna peninsula was started after the Cola invasions which took place during the 13th century and was more or less completed during the time of Aryacakravartis whose control of the Jaffna peninsula commenced during the 13th century. (For Arya Kingdom in North Ceylon. See
Paranavithana, JRASCB Vol. VII. Pt.2 (new series) pp.174ff.
This site is situated in the N/Valikaman D.R.O`s Division in the village of Kantarodai. This site is referred to as the Kadivungoda vihara in the Nam-pota. The bases of twenty-two dagabas with diameters ranging from 8ft to 12ft. Were exposed from the excavations here and one dagaba with a diameter of about 231/2ft. From the site have been recovered dagaba finials of lime stone caskets, Bodhisatva head of lime-stone, pillar stumps, a sacred foot print stone etc. The first excavations at the site had yielded Buddha statues and other Buddhist remainings such as dagaba finials. A huge limestone Buddha statue recovered from the excavations are exhibited in the Jaffna Archaeological Museum.
The site Nilavarai is situated in the N/Valikaman D.R.O`s Division on the village of Navakiri. From the site has been recovered the upper part of a Buddha statue elegently modelled in the Abhaya-mudra. The statue is now on display at the Jaffna museum.
Not far from the place of find of the statue are the remains of a dagaba which may belong to the 10th century. Nearby are also the remains of a rectangular building which may have been an image house. At the site a Bo-tree and a deep well are seen.
The site is situated in the Philai Palai Karachchi D.R.O.`s Division in the village of Uruthirupuram. The remains of two ancient structured are found beside the road from Urithirupuram Colony to the tank. A small dagaba in the vicinity has been destroyed.
The site is situated in the D.R.O.`s Division of Tunukkai in the village of Vavunikulam in the district of Jaffna. The torso of a standing Buddha statue was unearthed at the site. Nearby are the two pillars of some structure with a brick foundation around them. A broken flower altar, a broken moon-stone
and a fragment of a stone door frame are found at the site. There are three other mounds which mark the site of ancient buildings.
The site is situated near the railway station of chunnakam (Sinh. Hunugama). To the west of the rail track is situated a mound which mark the remains of an ancient dagaba. In 1917 Dr. Paul E. Peris had found a finial of a dagaba from the site.
Koddiya Wattai is a hamlet close to Chunnakam. The suffis Wattai indicates that the name is Sinhala which is a variation of watta (garden). Excavations at the site were conducted in 1917 and the remains of a dagaba had been discovered. A Buddha statue was discovered from the site in 1902.
Mallagama is situated in the Nam-pota. Two fragments of a yantragala ( a depost-stone) were found from the site. A pond in the rock is still called Kat-Pokanai which is the Tamil form of the Sinhalese word gal-pokuna.
A Buddha Statue and the architectural members of a dagaba and other religious buildings have been discovered by P.E. Peiris.
Uduvil is situated close to Kantarodai. Four stone finials of dagabas have been discovered from the site.
Puloli is situated two miles from Point Pedro. A siripatul stone was discovered from the site. Remains of other buildings too are visible on the site.
A site called Gotha-maluva-watta is found on the road to Point Pedro from Ponnalai. It is situated about a quarter mile away from Ponnalai. Though no structural remains were found the name of the site which has a Sinhalese origin is very interesting. The word Gotha ( ) is an abbreviated form of Gotami or Gautami which means an honoured lady. Most probably it may be referring to Sanghamitta who brought the Bodhi Tree as the site is situated closer to Sambiliturai in which port she landed with the sacred Tree. An excavation conducted at the site yielded the remains of a building which could be the remains of monastic establishment founded in connection with the arrival of the Bodhi Tree.