Sinhala king and South Indian invasions
The two major invasions of Sri Lanka by South India are well known.
Chola King Rajaraja I (985-1014), took Anuradhapura and chased the
Sinhala King Mahinda V down to Ruhuna. Rajendra I (1014-1044) captured
Mahinda and completed the conquest of Rajarata. Cola rule ended in 1070.
Thereafter, Magha of Kalinga occupied Rajarata from about 1215 to 1232.
But there are less well known invasions which make interesting reading.
There was a happy period in the seventh Century, when the Pallava and
Sinhala kings were on good terms. This appears to be the only period of
friendly relations between the Tamil and Sinhala kings. Manavamma
(684-718), who had been living in the court of the Pallava king
Narasinhavarman I, helped him defeat the Chalukyas who were fighting
him. I think that he would have advised on war strategy. In return,
Narasinhavarman supplied him with an army to challenge Hattadatha in Sri
The Sinhala king meddled in the conflict between Cholas and Pandyas
in the Tamil kingdom. He supported the Pandyas against the Colas. When
Vira Pandya attacked the Chola king Parantaka II, Sinhala King Mahinda
IV (956-972) supported Vira Pandya. Parantaka defeated Vira Pandya and
promptly invaded Sri Lanka.
Pandya king Srimara Sri Vallabha invaded the island during the reign
of Sena I (833-853). He plundered Anuradhapura, handed back the city to
Sena and left. Sri Vallabha’s son rebelled against the father and sought
the assistance of Sena II (853-887). Sena II sent an army to India under
Senpati Kuttaka. Kuttaka captured Madhura, the Pandyan capital. He
placed Srimara’s son on the Pandya throne as Varaguna II, the nominee of
Sena II. He brought back the valuables taken by Srimara, as well as some
of the Pandya valuables.
In a subsequent episode, Chola King Parantaka I (907-953) challenged
Pandya ruler Marvarman Rajasimha II (905-20) inside the Tamil kingdom.
Rajasimha sought the assistance of Sinhala king Kassapa V, who
dispatched an army. Rajasimha lost the war and fled to Sri Lanka taking
with him the crown and other regalia. He arrived in the reign of Dappula
IV (924-935). Dappula wanted to fight but the army objected. So
Rajasimha went to Kerala, his mother’s home, leaving the crown jewels
Parantaka asked for the regalia. Sinhala King Udaya IV (946-954)
refused. Parantaka invaded. Udaya took the regalia and left Anuradhapura.
Parantaka took Anuradhapura, but had to rush home because the Gangas and
the Rastrakutas had attacked and he was about to lose his throne. The
Sinhala king also seems to have made a lightening raid on the Tamil
kingdom at this point. Rajasimha’s regalia remained in Sri Lanka until
Chola King Rajendra I acquired them when he conquered the Rajarata.
Mahavamsa and Tiruvalangadu plates of Rajendra I record these events.
Nicholas thinks that Pandya, Kerala and Sri Lanka kings were in
secret contact with each other against the Colas in the time of
Vijayabahu I and Parakrama Bahu I. A remarkable episode occurred in the
reign of Parakrama Bahu I (1153-1186). The Cholas and Pandyas were
continuing their unending battle for power, with the Pandyas fighting
each other as well.
Parakrama Pandya, one of the Pandya claimants, turned to Parakrama
Bahu I while his opponent, Kulasekhera ran to the Colas. Parakrama Bahu
sent an army with instructions to depose Kulasekhara, who had by then
killed Parakrama Pandya. He wanted a Pandya prince placed on the throne.
Sinhala General Lankapura put Virapandu, the youngest son of the late
king on the throne. Since Virapandu was in a ‘destitute condition’,
Parakrama Bahu had sent him the necessary clothes, jewels and ornaments.
But Kulasekhara defeated the Sinhala Army, beheaded Lankapura and
deposed Virapandu. Parakrama Bahu got ready to invade again, around 1178
The Colas heard of this and sent an expedition led by Parakrama
Bahu’s nephew Sri Vallabha, a rival claimant to the Sinhala throne who
had escaped to the Cholas. The Cola army captured and set fire to
several places including Kayts, Mantota and Valikamam, killed some of
the Sinhala chiefs and took others captive.
Kulasekhera, in the meantime had turned against the Colas, who had
supported him. Parakrama Bahu entered into an alliance with Kulasekhara
and provided him with an army.
The Colas defeated Kulasekhera and put Virapandu back on the throne.
Then in 1186 Virapandu turned against the Cholas. Parakrama Bahu sent an
army to support Virapandu but this army was defeated by the Colas.
Parakrama Bahu clearly had no hesitation in supporting princes whom he
had previously fought against. His policy was to help any Tamil prince
who opposed the Colas. Nissanka Malla had also sent a naval force as far
as Ramesvaram. There is some doubt as to whether he actually fought a
war in Tamil country.
Chola kings continued to eye Sri Lanka even after they were expelled
in 1070. There were Chola invasions during the time of Queen Kalyanavati
(1202 -1208), Anikanda (1209) and Lokesvara (1210-1211) There were three
Cola invasions during time of Queen Lilavati (1197-1212). These were
The Pandyas were also interested in ruling Sri Lanka. Vikkamapandu
ruled in Kalutara during the Cola occupation of Rajarata. He was slain
after a year by Jagatipala of Oudh (Ayodaya, North India) who ruled in
Ruhuna for four years till he, in turn, was slain by the Colas.
Parakrama Pandya ruled in Polonnaruwa around 1215 to1232.
In the 13th Century, the Pandyas at last succeeded in getting
exclusive power in the Tamil kingdom. Power was shared by several
princes, with one having primacy over the rest. Jatavarman Vira Pandya
ruled together with Jatavarman Sundara Pandya. Jatavarman Sundara Pandya
II (1253-1270) was an outstanding king. He ruled over Chola and Chera
territory and parts of present day Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Jatavarman Sundara Pandya invaded Sri Lanka around 1258 Jatavarman
Vira Pandya followed around 1263. Sundara’s contemporary in Sri Lanka
was Parakrama Bahu II. These invasions seem to have been short lived.
The invasion launched by Maravarman Kulasekhara (1268-1310) returned
with the Tooth relic. Sastri says Parakrama bahu III (1287-1293) had to
go to India, speak to the Pandya King and get back the relic. A second
invasion by Marvarman was beaten back by Buvaneka Bahu I.
(The writings of A Liyanagamage, C.W. Nicholas, KA Nilakanta
Sastri, L.S. Perera, S Wickremesinghe and W.M.K. Wijetunga were used for