Rajarata .  was an administrative region in ancient Sri Lanka. It was centered around the ancient cities of Tambapanni, Upatissa Nuwara,Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa. Rajarata was under direct administration of the King. Other areas (Malaya rata, Ruhunu rata) were ruled by brothers of the King who were called by "Mapa" and "Epa". Rajarata kingdom was ended after the Magha invasion in 13th century
The geographical designation Rajarata (Raja = king, rata = country, or preferably area, thus the area of King) is the name given to the region of Sri Lanka from which these monarchs ruled.
History and Kingdoms
The first kingdom in Rajarata was established by Prince Vijaya in 543 BC. He was settled place near to the delta of the Malvathu River between Chilaw and Mannar. Myths said prince Vijaya married to a local princess Kuveni to take the control of the Rajarata.With the help of Kuveni he betrayed and killed all the regional leaders. After death of prince Vijaya, administration center was moved towards the country side along the "Malvathu oya". The river was perfectly suited to do agricultural work. First 3 administrative centers (Tambapanni,Upatissa Nuwara, Anuradhapura) situated close to Malvathu oya. King Pandukabhaya, a price who had local (Yaksha tribe) blood and Sinha blood, was able to form a stable kingdom in Anuradhapura. He had support from all the tribes in all part of the island.
Administrating centers in Rajarata.
- Tambapanni - Prince Vijaya - Founded in 543 BC
- Upatissa Nuwara - Founded by King Upatissa in 505 BC
- Anuradhapura - Founded by King Pandukabhaya in 377 BC
- Sigiriya - Built by King Kashyapa (477 – 495 CE), but after the death of the king center moved to Anuradhapura.
- Polonnaruwa - Founded by King Vijayabahu I
Prince Vijaya and his clan settled in Tambapanni, near the Malvatu oya delta. Mahavamsa reveals that successive settlements by various groups came from India between period of price Vijaya to King Pandukabhaya, tend to settle along with Malvathu oya. In 377 BC King Pandukabhaya moved the administrative center to Anuradhapura. Most of the settlement were based on rivers and rain water reservoirs to support agricultural lifestyle. Yodha wewa area in Mannar District by King Dhatusena, Eropathana in Vavuniya District, Padawiya area in Anuradhapura District and Mullaitivu District by King Moggallana II proves that the this golden civilization of ancient Sri Lanka is spread to southern boundary of the Vanni forest. Heavy Vanni forest acted as a huge barrier to colonize above the southern border of the forest. Tank's build on Anuradhapura era (Giant's, Padaviya, Minneriya, Kantale, Mahavillachchiya,Thabbowa,Kala) shows the early settlements in Rajarata area.
Initial settlements based near rivers.
- Malvathu oya - Anuradhapura, Upatissa nuwara, Tambapanni
- Mahaweli river - Pollonnaruwa
- Deduru oya - Sigiriya, Yapahuwa
Boundaries of Rajarata
Boundaries of the three divisions (Rata)
- Raja rata - Area between Deduru oya and Mahaweli river.
- Ruhunu rata -Area between Mahaweli river and Kalu gaga.
- Malaya rata - Area between Deduru oya and Kalu gaga.
Fall of Rajarata
In 1215 Kalinga Magha invaded Rajarata with an army of 24,000. After the conquest of Rajarata, Magha established his capital in Pollonnaruwa. Then Kalinga forces extended power to the Malaya Rata. During the rise of Kingdom of Dambadeniya under the king Vijayabahu III (1220- 1224 AC), Magha lost the control in Malaya Rata. Resistance was extended from natives to the Magha's administration at Pollonnaruwa. Sinhalese gathered around a series of inaccessible towns, fortresses, mountainous like Yapahuwa and Gangadoni under army generals (Subha, Sankha etc.). Due to rising threat, Pandyan troop established administration center in Jaffna Peninsula which was more secured by heavy Vanni forest. Later Rajarata was annexed by king Parakramabahu II(1236–70). His power extended over Rohana, the central hills, Rajarata and the Vanni . Sinhalese tried to re-establish the administrative center in Rajarata but many battles placed in the country with the armies from south India under different invaders, administration center was moved away from Rajarata by Sinhalese. But the Pandyan defeat in South India was weaken the Tamil power in Sri Lanka. The last Pandyan ruler of Madurai, was defeated and expelled in 1323 by Malik Kafur, the army general of the Muslim empire Delhi Sultanate. The falling of Pandyan was a very significant history event to Sri Lanka.
It leads to following events
- Military rulers "Aryacakravarti", who appointed as minister of Pandyan empire, made the Jaffna administrative center independent from Pandyans and established Jaffna kingdom and Arya Chakrawarthi dynasty.
- Lost the Tamil power in the Vanni. Tamils too withdrawn from Vanni to Jafna Peninsula. Population was very low in this area until British starting Tamil Colonization south to Parantan
- Area below Vanni forest stabilized under Sinhala Kingdom
Also ancient Rajarata (before the 13th century) divided into three parts.
- Jaffna kingdom - Jaffna peninsula, Ruled by Arya Chakrawarthi dynasty
- Rajarata - Area below the Vanni. Ruled by Sinhalese kingdoms
- Vanni Area - Area which covers the Vanni forest, Abandon area between Sinhala Kingdom and Jafna Kingdom
- Sunday Times
- The Island
- Padaviya: the Eastern Capital of the Rajarata Kingdom
- Sunday Times
- Vijaya marries Kuveni, wins kingdom
- A tale of two nation
- Sunday Times
- The Mahávansi, the Rájá-ratnácari, and the Rájá-vali. Parbury, Allen, and Co. 1833.
- Yoda Wewa - Mannar District amazinglanka.com
- The Sri Lanka Reader History, Culture, Politics by John Clifford Holt, Robin Kirk, Orin Starn page 55
- Short History of Ceylon By Humphrey William Codrington page 2
- A history of Sri Lanka by K. M. De Silva Page 82
- The History of Sri Lanka By Patrick Peebles page 31
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