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Chronology & Major Historical Events

A table of the major historical events and rulers of Sri Lanka

(Compiled by R Beny and J L Opie)


Vijaya  6th C BCE 
Founding of Anuradhapura
Early Anuradhapura Period  
Devanampiya Tissa
Introduction of Buddhism
Tamil domination
Dutthagamani 161-137
Saddhatissa 137-119
Lanjatissa 119-109
Vattagamani Abhaya 103-102
Tamil domination 102-89
Vattagamani (restored) 89-77
Pali scriptures committed to writing 80
Mahaculi Mahatissa 76-62
Coranaga 62-50
Lanjatissa 119-109
Queen Anula 47-42
  1st C CE
Ilanaga 35-44
Chandamukha Shiva 44-52
Gajabahu I 112-134
Kanittha Tissa 164-192
Mahasena 276-303
Sirimeghavanna 303-331
Arrival of Tooth Relic 331
Jetthatissa II 331-340
Buddhadasa 340-368
Mahanama 410-432
Arrival of Buddhagosa, chief
   Theravada commentator
Tamil domination 433-459
Late Anuradhapura Period  
Dhatusena 459-477
Kassapa I 477-495
Moggallana I 495-512
Aggabodhi IV 667-683
Sena I 833-853
Chola Tamil occupation 993-1070
Capital moved to Polonnaruva 993
Polonnaruva Period  
Vijayabahu I 1055-1110
Gajabahu II 1132-1153
Parakramabahu I 1153-1186
Unification of the Sangha 1156
Nissankamalla 1187-1196
Parakrama Pandu 1212-1215
Periods of transition  
Kalingan invasion 1214
Magha 1215-1236
Parakramabahu II 1236-1270
Vijayabahu IV 1270-1272
Bhuvanaikabahu I 1272-1284
Parakramabahu VI 1412-1467
Parakramabahu VIII 1484-1508
Arrival of the Portuguese 1505
Dom Joao Dharmapala 1550-1597
Rajasinha I 1554-1593
Capital moved to Kandy 1597
Kandyan Period  
Rajasinha II 1629-1687
Portuguese expelled by the Dutch 1658
Narendasinha 1707-1739
Kirti Sri Rajasinha 1747-1780
Restoration of Buddhist Orders and
   settlement of the modern Sangha
Rajadhi Rajasinha 1780-1798
Dutch expelled by the British 1796
Sri Vickrama Rajasinha 1798-1815
Colonial Period  
Fall of the Kandyan Kingdom and
   Annexation of the Island

3rd Century BCE
Buddhism is brought to Sri Lanka from India.

3rd Century BCE - 993 CE
Anuradhapura is the capital.
Early Anuradhapura period: 250 BCE - 432 CE.
Late Anuradhapura period: 459 CE - 933 CE.

Late 5th Century CE
Sigiriya is briefly the capital; King Kasyapa I builds palace and garden complex.

993 - 1070 CE
Early Polonnaruva period.
Tamils from the South Indian region of Tamil Nadu occupy Sri Lanka in 993 CE.
Polonnaruva becomes the capital and rule is assumed by the South India Chola dynasty.
Patronage of Buddhism and monastic complexes is supported by Hindu patronage.

1070 - 1236 CE
Later Polonnaruva period:
The South Indian Chola dynasty is defeated by Sri Lankan king Vijayabahu I.
The capital remains at Polonnaruva.

1235 - 1597 CE
Period of Divided States:
1480 - 1815 CE Kandyan Period
1565 - 1597 CE Portuguese establish rule in the Kotte Kingdom near Colombo.

1597 CE
Sri Lankan capital moves to Kandy;
The Kandyan Kingdom remains independent until 1815 CE.

1658 CE
The Dutch replace the Portuguese as rulers of Sri Lankan coastal areas.

1795 - 1796 CE
The British conquer Dutch possessions in coastal area.

1801 - 1802 CE
Coastal Sri Lanka becomes a British crown colony.

1815 CE
The British take control of the Kandyan Kingdom;
All of Sri Lanka becomes a British crown colony.

1948 CE
Sri Lanka attains dominion status within the British Empire.
The British monarch is head of state.

1972 CE
Sri Lanka becomes a republic

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