Kingdom of Tambapanni

543 BC–505 BC
Capital Tambapanni
Government Monarchy
   543 BC - 505 BC Vijaya of Sri Lanka
Historical era Ancient
   Landing of Vijaya 543 BC
   Death of Vijaya 505 BC
Area 65,610 km² (25,332 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ancient clans of Sri Lanka
Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara

The Kingdom of Tambapanni, also referred to as Kingdom of Thambapanni, was the first kingdom in ancient Sri Lanka and the Kingdom of Rajarata. Its administrative centre was based at Tambapanni. It existed between 543 BC and 505 BC. The Kingdom of Tambapanni only had one king, Vijaya, a prince who was banished from India to Sri Lanka.


Tambapanni is a name derived from Tāmraparṇī or Tāmravarṇī (in Sanskrit).[1] This means the colour of copper or bronze because when Vijaya and his followers landed in Sri Lanka, when their hands and feet touched the ground they became red with the dust of the red-earth. Therefore, the city founded on that spot was named Tambapanni.[2] A derivative of this name is Taprobane (Greek). Tambapanni is a Pali version of the name Tamira Varni.



Before the arrival of Vijaya in Sri Lanka, both Greek and Indian literature of the period made references to the island and considered it as a mythical land, occupied by Yakshas or non-human beings. The story of the Jataka, which calls the island Tambapanni, and mentions Nagadipa and Kalyani, states that the island was inhabited by Yakkhinis or she demons.[3]

Founding and location

The Kingdom of Tambapanni was founded by Vijaya of Sri Lanka, the first Sinhalese King, and 700 of his followers after landing in Sri Lanka in an area near modern-day Mannar, which is believed to be the district of Chilaw,[4][5] after leaving Suppāraka.[6] It is recorded that Vijaya made his landing on the day of Buddha's death.[7] Vijaya claimed Tambapanni as his capital and soon the whole island became known by this name. Tambapanni was originally inhabited and governed by Yakkhas, and their queen Kuveni, with their capital at Sirīsavatthu .[8] According to the Samyutta Commentary, Tambapanni extended one hundred leagues.

The Yakshas

Legend has it that when Vijaya landed on the shores of the island he kissed the sand, called it ‘Thambapanni’ and planted a flag depicting a lion in the ground. (The famous ‘Sanchi’ ruins of India depict the events of Prince Vijaya’a landing.[9]) After landing in Tambapanni, Vijaya met Kuveni the queen of the Yakkhas, who was disguised as a beautiful woman but was really a 'yakkini' (devil) named Sesapathi.[10]

See also


  1. Perera, D. G. A. "Lankan place name in historical perspective". The island. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  2. "Chapter III. Connection With Ceylon, Generally One Of Hostility". Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  3. Mendis, G.C. (2006). "The ancient period". Early History of Ceylon (Reprint ed.). Asian Educational Services. p. 33. ISBN 81-206-0209-9. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  4. Mittal, J.P. (2006). "Other dynasties". History of Ancient India: From 4250 BC to 637 AD. Volume 2 of History of Ancient India: A New Version. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 405. ISBN 81-269-0616-2. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  5. "Pre-history of Sri Lanka". Embassy of Sri Lanka Cairo, Egypt. Archived from the original on May 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  6. "483 BC - Arrival of Aryans to Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  7. "King Vijaya (B.C. 543-504) and his successors". Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  8. "Tambapanni". Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  9. Naizer, Nizla (2009-02-04). "Evolution of the National Flag". The Bottom Line. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  10. Manathunga, Anura (2007-02-04). "The first battle for freedom". Ths Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-11-06.

External links

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