The subject of Architecture and Town Planning in Sri Lanka, during the Early and Medieval Periods, is indeed, vast. It is for this reason that the original plan of publishing a single mega volume on the Religious Edifices and another on the Secular Buildings was revised, to present the full range in a series of volumes, to cover most items of architectural or planning expression. Initially, the Religious Series will be published and the Secular Series will follow. As the Religious Series will be published first, volume one of this set will cover the pertinent aspects of the historical geography of the country within the context of “Environment, Town, Village and Monastic Planning”. This is in order to set the right backdrop, especially for international readers. The material presented will be mainly indigenous Architecture and Town Planning, and will cover the period from the earliest times of the fourth century BC, to about the fifteenth century. At the same time, wherever the national traits of design or planning continued into the period of foreign occupation, such architectural expressions will also be incorporated in the volumes. In fact, the original intention had been to write a third volume to include the Architecture and Planning of the last five hundred years, covering mainly the Portuguese, Dutch and British occupations in the history of this country. It will, however, be a miracle, if the last series, were ever to appear.
The original research on the Religious and Secular Architecture and Planning was carried out during a two year period of fellowship in 1967 and 1968, offered by UNESCO. Half of this time was spent with the Faculty of Architecture, University of Rome and the balance at the Institute of Art and Archaeology of South and Southeast Asia, University of Amsterdam. It was Prof. J.E. van Lohuizen de Leeuw who paced me through my work while in Rome and in Amsterdam. I also wish to record my respects to Prof. K.de B.Codrington, Prof. A.L.Basham, and Dr.R.F.Allchin, who were my former teachers at the School of Oriental and African Studies and at the Institute of Archaeology, Universi London. I am deeply indebted to all these fine mentors of mine. I am grateful to Mr. M.J.Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs for releasing me to carry out in the 1960s, despite the pressure of work consistent with a Government Department. I am thankful to my superior Dr. C.E.Godakumbura and my colleagues at the Department in Mr.L.K.Karunaratna, Mr.R.Fernando, Mr.S.M.Seneviratna, and Mr.Lal Chandra, for holding the ‘fort’ in my absence.
The initial manuscript on “Environment, Town, Village and Monastic Planning”, was written mainly in Amsterdam in 1968, and the work painfully read through and typed by my wife Neela Silva. This has now been further scrutinized by Dr. Nandana Chutiwongs and Mrs. Sita Peiris, and I wish to acknowledge my deep debt of gratitude to all.
Meanwhile, some small improvements may be seen in the present version, in the salient points of new knowledge gathered especially through the excavation and conservation programmes handled by the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Project of the Cultural Triangle and the Department of Archaeology of Sri Lanka, since 1968.
The present initiative to re-publish these volumes, together with the rest of the work carried out in Rome and Amsterdam, is due to the persistence of my successors. Dr. Siran Deraniyagala and Dr. W.H.Wijayapala, along with the present Director General of Archaeology, Dr. Senarath Dissanayake, to all of whom, I have the fondest regard for their committed yearning for the advancement of this discipline. I also wish to place on record the assistance extended by Mr.M.B.Herath, Director, General Services and Mr. S. Wijethunga, Assistant Director Publications, of the Department of Archaeology, who personally accompanied me to the Government Printer with the manuscript, and was courteously insistent that the publishing be commenced instantly. I have every respect for the friendship of the former Government Printer, Mr. N. Nanayakkara who I have known well and worked with for the past thirty years, when this manuscript was first handed over, and now to his worthy successor Mr. Lakshman Goonewardena. It would be a remiss of me if Mr. R.H.A. Ranasinghe, Mr. S.A.S.P. Satharasinghe of the Computer Division, together with their assistants, were not thanked for their hard work.
I hope this volume on “Environment, Town, Village and Monastic Planning”, will be of some value to academics, and especially to students of Architecture and Archaeology at the University of Moratuwa, the School of Architecture of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects and the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, at which organizations, I have had the privilege to nurse these from their very inception. As for the interested public, may I suggest that they scrutinize the areas of relevance and read with enjoyment. Please do not ever, force yourself to an over-dose of this concentrate.
Let me also express my sincere gratitude to Prof S. Paranavitana, Prof. G.P.Malalasekera Dr. Raja de Silva, Dr. W.S.Karunaratna, Prof. P.L.Prematilleke, Prof. Senake Bandaranayake, Prof. Nimal de Silva, Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne, Mr. Sirimal Lakdusinghe and Dr. Gamini Wijesuriya, for their continued encouragement, and for pursuing a life long membership at this exclusive National Club of Historical-Archaeologists. I am equally indebted to the new and young band of professional archaeologist and academic children, who I think will always stand by the seniors in their failing years. In this regard, let me thank the Department of Archaeology, the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology and the Central Cultural Fund, for all the help and assistance given to me. As regards our international links and valued research, let me express my gratitude to the team in the Netherlands in Prof. Karel van Kooij, Dr. Nandana Chutiwongs, Dr. Oliver Moore and Prof. W.A.L.Stokhof, along our Chinese colleagues, Madam Zhaoling, Madam Lilinli and Mr. Lihaitao. Research has opene the doors to many international institutes, namely, the International Centre for Asian Studies and th Kem Institute in Holland and the Cultural Relics Bureau in Chengde, China. These venues have been haven for academism and research.
Finally, let me seek pardon from my wife Neela, my children, Nirma, Ravi, Amitha and Prabha their spouses and children, for any lapses in consideration due to them as my immediate family, while delving in my den of research.
I cannot conclude without expressing my deep sense of gratitude to Mr. H.S.de Silva, who retired with me from the Central Cultural Fund, and has ever since continued to help me in my work.
ROLAND SILVA Former Commissioner of Archaeology,
Former Director General, Central Cultural Fund, Former President, International Council on Monuments and Sites, Former UNESCO Chair, Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology,
Honorary President, ICOMOS (International).
Chairman, National Trust, Sri Lanka.
69/3. Gregory’s Road, Colombo, 7. 15th December 2006.