The Cholas gave a boost to Saivism. Siva temples were built at
- Mantai (Rajaraja Iswaram),
- Padaviya (Ravikula Manikeswaram),
- Atakada (Uttama Chozha Iswaram),
- Medirigirya (Panditha Chozha Iswaram).
- The oldest is a Siva temple at Polonnaruwa.
Buddhism was not neglected. “Buddhist officials and soldiers in the service of the Cholas contributed to Buddhist institutions,” Pathmanathan said.
The Chola dynasty in South India was considered as one of the most powerful dynasties in South Asia as Chola kings had extended their empire up to Indonesia. It was Rajendra Chola, the son of the mighty Raja Raja Chola, who even invaded Sri Lanka and built the ancient Sivan Temple in Polonnaruwa which yet remains a testimony to the Chola regime in the island.
Therefore, in the backdrop of the State of Tamil Nadu on 24 July celebrating the 1000th year of the coronation of Rajendra Chola, who had remained a formidable monarch with the strength of a 1.5 million Army and powerful fleets of Navy with his Kingdom’s pouncing Tiger flag, the Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Douglas Devananda, glorified another Tamil King of the Chola dynasty Elara by unveiling his statue at the roundabout of the Victoria Clock Tower in Jaffna last Sunday(10).
Elara, who had ruled the Rajarata Kingdom from Anuradhapura during the period between 205 BC to 161 and was described as a ‘Just King’ who was secular and reigned in his kingdom with honesty and integrity until he was defeated by Sinhala Prince Dutugemunu.
According to Lankan chronicle Mahavamsa, Dutugemunu who defeated Elara had considered the Chola King as an invader.
But the young Prince had respected the Tamil King’s greatness as a ‘Just King’.
Historians had pointed out that the Army of Elara had even consisted Sinhala soldiers.
So, in respect of his foe Elara, a tomb was erected by Dutugemunu naming it as Elara Sohona which was later known as Dakkhina Stupa, a Buddhist shrine in Anuradhapura according to historians.
However, Elara is still respected for his greatness in Sri Lanka. The country’s Northern Naval installation was named after the Tamil King, as the Elara Naval Base soon after it was established in Karainagar in the Jaffna Peninsula in 1955.
Therefore, the Tamil King Elara was remembered with a statue erected in his memory in Jaffna last week, after the country’s premier Naval installation was named after him in the Peninsula 59 years ago.
Minister Devananda, who unveiled the statue of Elara along with other popular Kings such as Pararajasekaran and Pandarawannian, who had ruled the North still remembered for their struggle against foreign invaders.
King Pararajasekaran of the Jaffna Kingdom was even respected as a great physician who had been an expert in indigenous medicine.
Hence, the statue of Elara and the other two kings were unveiled by Minister Douglas Devananda last week in the close proximity of his alma mater Central College, Jaffna around the roundabout of Victoria Clock Tower of the British era.
Therefore, in the backdrop of a new statue of King Elara in Jaffna it is interesting to note that the Naval base in Karainagar was one of the first Security Forces installations to be targeted during the very early days of Tamil militancy in the North.
On 5 May 1985, the Elara Naval Base in Karainagar came under a massive attack by the cadres of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the military wing of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).
The PLA cadres who were fresh from their Indian training after learning the basics in handling assault rifles, launched the attack on the Elara Base led by their Palestine trained leader, and, he was none other than Minister Douglas Devananda who unveiled the statue of Elara in Jaffna last week.
Douglas Devananda led the PLA to attack the Elara base in Karainagar on a Full Moon Day and their attack plan was to infiltrate the base by driving an armoured car right into the base. However, when the armoured vehicle was nearing the base it had stuck in a sandy area, alerting sailors in the base.
The Navy personnel immediately retreated to the gunboats anchored at the base and started firing towards the columns of cadres who were taking their position to bring the base under their control.
At the end, the Navy personnel of Elara Base defeated the attempt by Douglas Devananda and his cadres to overrun the camp successfully.
A woman PLA cadre who was also a cousin of Douglas Devananda and another senior cadre with several other PLA cadres were killed in the attack, which had hardly caused any damage to the base. It was after this attack in 1985 on the Elara Base which remains as the nerve centre of all Naval operations in the Peninsula, the security of all prime military installations was intensified with the creation of High Security Zones in the Peninsula.
The attack on Elara Base in Karainagar was launched by Douglas Devananda and his cadres at a time when other militant outfits were competing with each other to attack the Security Forces installations and the Police Stations in the Peninsula.
As the militants were competing with each other in staging attacks in the early 80s, the EPRLF’s defeat in attacking the Elara Base was also ridiculed by other militant outfits and the attempt was even described as idiotic as it was launched on a Full Moon Day allowing the Navy personnel to visibly keep a track of the movements of the attackers.
It was four years after the attempt on the Elara Base in the North Douglas Devananda entered the political mainstream in 1989 and returned to the island from South India forming his political party Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP).
The EPDP with its entry into the political mainstream with the blessings of the President Premadasa regime, first began to engage as a para-military force and as a political organization in the Kayts and Karainagar areas, which were in the control of the Elara Base in the Peninsula to counter any sea borne attack by the LTTE.
Nearly four years later Devananda shook hands with the Navy officials at Elara Base to coordinate with them in the humanitarian activities as well as to establish his political activities from the islets of Jaffna Peninsula.
In the meantime, when the LTTE was reigning in Kilinochchi it had carried out an attack on the Aunradhapura Airbase and the Tiger operation was code named as Elara.
Against the advice of several senior cadres in the LTTE citing the defeat of the Tamil King in the hands of Dutugemunu, the LTTE Leader V. Prabhakaran had code named the operation as Elara emphasizing on the significance of the Tamil King ruling the Rajarata Kingdom.
However, as it was predicted by Prabhakaran’s senior aides, the Elara Operation by the LTTE on Anuradhapura Airbase failed despite the Air Tigers even attacking the base with the outfit’s planes.
Therefore, in the backdrop of Minister Douglas Devananda unveiling the statue of Elara in Jaffna, the great Monarch’s name remains sacred even in the recent history of the Island nation.