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Raigam / Rayigama / Raygam - 1409-1415

Rayigama [which is situated to the east of Panadure], was briefly recognized as the capitals of Ceylon from 1409 to 1415). Up to this time, Rayigama, his ancestral home, had existed as a petty principality. After the fall of the South Indian Pandya Empire, in a time of extreme political disunity, the Sinhalsese rulers moved to safer havens in the south western regions of the island. Polonnaruwa was abandoned about 1300 and the capital was moved to less vulnerable strategic points. There were capitals at Yapahuva, Jaffna, Kurunegala (1293-1341), Gampola [Campola] (1341-1408), Rayigama (1409-15) and finally Kotte (1415-1597). Periods of history have been assigned to most of these capitals, but they are brief and uncertain.

The desertion of the Dry Zone regions around Anuradhapura and Pojonnaruwa led to the neglect of the numerous tanks and channels which the Sinhalese people had long used. The great monasteries of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were disbanded, and new institutions arose in and around the new capitals, but they were not of the size or stature of their predecessors.

The "Rajavaliya" - "The line of kings," being a connected history of Ceylon in Sinhalese prose, opens with a mythical account of the physical conformation of the universe, exhibiting also a list of names of numerous ancient cities and kingdoms mostly in India. This is followed by an account of the Buddha's visits to Ceylon, and of the Vijayan colonisation of the Island {circa B.C. 543). From this period the history is continued to the end of the reign of K.S.S. Pandita Parakrama Balm of Dambadeniya (circa AD 123671). Then comes a gap in the narrative, common to all copies, followed by obscure historical notices, such as the capture and deportation of King Vijaya Bahu by the Chinese, and the dissensions that ensued between Arya Cakravarti, the ruler of Jaffna, AlakesVara, the ruler at Raygam, and king Bhuvaneka Bahu of Gampola. The narrative is, however, resumed with the accession of king Parakrama Bahu VI of Kotte to the throne in A.D. 1410, and is continued with tolerable accuracy to about AD 1656.

The Alagakonara, a powerful Sinhalese family, attained a strong position at Rayigama, near the west coast. By the fourteenth century, they had established themselves at Rayigama, as local chieftains and had even contracted marriage alliances with the royal family at Kurunegala and Gampola. The principal centres of political power were Gampola where the king ruled and Rayigama where the AlakeSvaras held sway. The Muslim traveler Ibn Battutah, who visited Sri Lanka in 1344, referred to one of the Alagakonaras as a sultan. The real rulers during this time were Nissahka Alagakkonara and his successors who ruled from Rayigama. Nissanka Alagakkonara resided at Rayigama till his death in 1344.

The village of Rayigama became their royal estate and habitat when Alakesvara's family came to settle down in Ceylon, in the reign of Parakrama-bahu V (1348-1360). Through fear of a Tamil march on the hill country, Bhuvaneka-bahu V of Gampola fled to Rayigama for shelter. For about sixty years the de facto rulers of of Ceylon had been the Alagakkonaras, whose capital was at Rayigama or Kotte, though it is not certain which; both places lie somewhat to the south of Colombo and near to the coast. Vira Bahu II [1391/2-1396/7] and Vira Alakesvara (?Vijaya Bahu VI) [1397-1409] also ruled from Rayigama.

Vira AlakeSvara was defeated in battle at Rayigama. This defeat resulted in Vira Alakesvara fleeing the country.

Vira Bahu III went to Rayigama, where his family had settled, and strongly fortified that place, so that in times of danger the king could always have a place of safety [the watla still retains the ancient walls of massive blocks of dressed cabook, and was no doubt the site of the palace].

The Chinese emperor Ch'eng-tsu (14031424) wanted to display his military force in foreign countries, in order to show that China was rich and strong. In the 6th month of the year 1405 he ordered Cheng Ho, and others, to go as envoys to the western ocean. They took with them 27,000 soldiers, a large quantity of gold and silks, and made sixty-two large ships, 440 feet long and 180 feet broad. According to the Chinese accounts, Wijaya Bahu VI, who reigned from 1398 to 1410 AD, was a Sollean and a Brahmin, who tyrannised over his subjects and plundered vessels on his coasts; he provoked a quarrel with China by insulting and pillaging a Chinese mission who came to offer incense to the "Tooth," its members escaping with difficulty. The emperor Ching-tso, indignant at this outrage and anxious to re-establish Chinese supremacy in the Malasia and India at the same time, sent Ching-Ho, one of his generals, with a fleet of sixty-two junks, having on board an army and rich presents of silks and gold; the expedition stopped at Cochin-China, Sumatra, Java, and Siam, using force when required to exact submission.

The fleet did not reach Ceylon until 1408 AD, having returned to China from the archipelago in 1407 and departed a second time. In the 9th month of the year 1408 Cheng Ho went again to Ceylon. The king, Wijayo-Bahu, called A-lee-koo-naewurh or A-liet-k'u-nai-r by the Chinese, tried to decoy some of the invaders when they arrived on the coast into the interior in order to destroy them in detail, a favorite Kandyan mode of warfare. The king enticed him into the interior of his country and then wanted to extort gold and silks from him, while he sent soldiers to attack his fleet.

But Ching-Ho was too cunning for them, Cheng Ho saw that the troops of this robber were gone, few being left in the neighborhood, he attacked him at once with the two thousand men he had with him and captured his palace. After several battles Cheng Ho won a complete victory over Alagakkonara, the ruler of the Rayigama kingdom. The king, his wife, children, and principal functionaries were captured at Gampola. As soon as those who had gone to attack the ships heard of this, they hastened back in order to rescue their king, but Cheng Ho's army completely defeated them. In the 6th month of the year 1411 he brought the king a prisoner to the capital, along with a quantity of spoil, amongst which the Chinese say was the famous Tooth of Buddha: the whole of the booty taken on this occasion was exhibited for many years after at Nankin. One of the commentaries on the Si-ya-ki of Hwen Thsang, an interpolation in the original text of the fifteenth century, says: "the Tooth of Buddha was among the spoil carried to China;" and it is not improbable, being then at Gampola, which was the seat of government when the invasion occurred.

The emperor did not decapitate the King, but gave him permission to return to his country. In 1411 the captives were liberated and returned by the Chinese to Ceylon, one of the captured chiefs, named Seay-panae-na, being made the Emperor's viceroy on condition of paying a tribute to China, which was exacted until 1459, when the last was paid; the Chinese Emperors also assumed a right to interfere in the island. Ching-Ho issued a proclamation for the pacification of Ceylon, and at a later period the Emperor issued an edict for the government of the island.

The viceroy selected by the Emperor of China changed his name to Pu-la-ko-ma Ba-zae La-cha (Prakrama Bahu VI), but the native annals are quite silent as to his being a nominee or viceroy of the Chinese Emperor. Parakramabahu VI captured Rayigama in BE 1955 (AD 1411/2), after the deportation of the ruler of the Island. The last king able rightfully to call himself ruler of the whole of Ceylon was the King of Kotte, Parakrama Bahu VI (1412-65/7?), who briefly ruled from Rayigama for three years before moving his seat to Kotte. From Rayigama, Alagakkonara and his successors moved their stronghold to Kotte.

Vira Parakramabahu VIII [1484-1518] entrusted the government of the Kotte kingdom to his four sons namely, the eldest, Dharma Parakramabahu ruled at Kotte, Vijayabahu at Dondra, Raja Simha, the Four Korales while the fourth, ruled at Rayigama. The Kotte sovereign was acknowledged as overlord by the kings of Rayigama and Sitawaka and the practice of assigning the power to rule over parts of Kotte to brothers of the chief king was no innovation.

In 1521 a revolt in Kotte overthrew the king and the kingdom was divided in three independent units Kotte, Sitawake and Rayigama reigned by the king's three sons. Vijayabahu (1513-21), was murdered by his three sons, who divided the kingdom among themselves. The eldest of Vijayabahu's sons succeeded to the throne of Kotte as Bhuvanekabahu VII while his two brothers, Rajasimha and Mayadunne (really the ablest of the three) held the principalities of Rayigama and Sitavaka respectively. But soon one of the brothers, the king of Rayigama, died, leaving two rivals aspiring for the whole kingdom of Kotte.

Mayadunne, the king of Sitawake, was an ambitious and able ruler who sought to expand his frontiers. Mayadunne, the first ruler of Sitavaka, expanded his authority over the Rayigama principality in 1536 after the death of its ruler, Rayigam Bandara. Bhuvanekabahu did not contest the issue and indeed legitimized Mayadunne' s occupation by making him a formal grant of Rayigama. This could well have been because the Kotte nobility was divided into factions on the question. After the amalgamation of Rayigama and Sitawaka the King of this Kingdom formed an alliance with the Moors. The King of Kotte, Bhuvanekabahu, appealed to Portugal, for he felt himself threatened. After the Sinhala kingdoms of Kotte, Sitawaka, and Rayigama were subjugated by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, the Kandyan state emerged as the last independent bastion of Sri Lankan power in the seventeenth century.

The Kingdom of Raigam is a diversified group of companies incorporated in Sri Lanka, engaged in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry as Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer, Importer, Exporter, and Sole Agent for certain International Brands in Bakery Products. As the market leader for certain products handled by the group, The Kingdom of Raigam has won many awards for excellence in Quality as well as for the discharge of Social Responsibilities.Specialty of Raigam Products is the high standard of quality and mouth watering taste due to the uniqueness of their recipes, whether they be Soya Products, Salt- Crystal & Table, Biscuits, Coffee, Instant Fruit Drinks, Rice Flour or Noodles.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:29 ZULU