History, Ancient Sinhala
Hindu prince, Mahavamsa, arid region, Sinhalese, Sinhala
The Mahavamsa relates that the island was conquered in 504 bc by Vijaya, a Hindu prince from northeast India. After subjugating the aboriginal inhabitants, a people now known as Veddas, Vijaya married a native princess, encouraged emigration from the mainland, and made himself ruler of the entire island. However, the realm (called Sinhala after Vijaya’s patrimonial name) that was inherited by his successors consisted of the arid region lying to the north of the south central mountain system.
Members of the dynasty founded by Vijaya reigned over Sinhala for several centuries. During this period, and particularly after the adoption in the 3rd century bc of Buddhism as the national religion, the Sinhalese created a highly developed civilization. Extant evidence of their engineering skill and architectural achievements includes remnants of vast irrigation projects, many ruined cities, notably the ancient capital Anuradhapura, and numerous ruined shrines called dasobas.
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