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Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Polonnaruwa

The Mediaeval Capital of Sri Lanka

 

Polonnaruwa was a great city in Sri Lanka which came in to prominence during its' brief period of 2 Centuries of Sri Lankan history, being second only to the ancient city of Anuradhapura in ancient cultural heritage.

Polonnaruwa is 216 kMs from Colombo and 122 kMs from Kurunegala. Most common way to reach Polonnaruwa is to come to Habarana and then turning off along A11 Road [Maradankadawala-Tikkandimadu] and to proceed about 45 kMs to come to Polonnaruwa.

Polonnaruwa today is a showcase of the great ancient Sri Lankan architecture dating back to 12th Century AD ,which was interwoven with many Buddhist monasteries and monuments which were built by the King Parakramabahu I. Later King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 AD ) from Kalinga dynasty also had contributed to the development of many buildings and monuments at Polonnaruwa.

During the Anuradhapura period around 1st to 6th Century AD, , there has been agricultural developments with irrigation work and constructions such as Elahera canal,Minneriya tank, Kaudulla tank, Giritale tank etc. at Polonnaruwa area. The Anuradhapura kingdom's ruling King's army units were also stationed at Polonnaruwa . It had not been a major city at that time. King Aggabodhi IV ( 667-685 AD) was the First King who lived in Polonnaruwa and ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom. In the earlier times this city was called as Pulatthinagara, after a famous sage, Pulasti which gives an indication of the Hindu influence existed.

King Parakramabahu I , was the greatest King who ruled Polonnaruwa during the Polonnaruwa era for 33 years from 1153-86 AD and it had been a prosperous time for the entire island nation. It was a time with numerous architectural activities which one can still see even in the present time. He developed the city with architects and technicians brought down from India and the influence of the Indian architecture can be seen from many well preserved sites existing today.Polonnaruwa Architecture, Art and Sculpture is well displayed at Gal Viharaya,Thuparamaya Image House and Lankatilaka Image House and many other sites scattered through out Polonnaruwa ancient city.

Due to invasions from the Cholas of South India, the Polonnaruwa kingdom was under the rule of Cholas for about 73 years. Polonnaruwa kingdom was abandoned by Sinhala kings in the latter part of the 12th century.

Famous places like Sigiriya,Medirigiriya, Somawathie, Dimbulagala and Buduruwayaya are not far away from Polonnaruwa so can be reached without much difficulty.

 

 

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Vatadage

Polonnaruwa Vatadage

Vatadage Guardian Stone

 

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Vatadage Moonstone

Vatadage Moonstone

 

 

 

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Lankatilaka Image House

 

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Lankatilaka Image House
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Lankatilaka Image House
Lankatilaka Image House

 

To reach Lankatilaka Image House, one has to cross two terraces by way of using flight of steps.The Image House, Lankatilaka was built using Clay Bricks which has a Buddha Image of height 42 feet. This was built by King Parakramabahu and the existing walls are of a height of 55 feet. The Image house measures 125 feet by 66 feet and when this was built, the height is considered to be 100 feet or more. The Mandapaya in front is 36 feet x 36 feet square and there are 40 stone pillars in that area. The outer walls of the brick building has been decorated by reliefs of buildings and there are niches built for images that would have been there earlier.

 

 

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The Gal Viharaya [ Uttararamaya]

 

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Gal Viharaya is considered to be the ancient Uttararamaya built by King Parakramabahu the Great. The Gal Viharaya is a marvel of the ancient statuary and no other antiquity in the Island can rival this fabulous Buddha image rock carvings. Gal Viharaya was re discovered in 1820 by Lt. Fagan during an exploration. This is situated to the North of the Alahana Pirivena and can be reached passing Kirivehera. The statues are carved on a rock of about 168 feet in length and cut into a depth of about 15 feet. The first sculpture is a seated Buddha image and the second seated Buddha is inside a cave and carved out of the solid rock found there. The next is the Standing Buddha image with crossed arms and the forth and the last one is the reclined Buddha statue in the parinirvana status.

 

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Tivanka Pilimage[Tivanka Image House]

 

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Tivanka Image House

 

The name 'Tivanka' came into being due to the three bend posture of the Buddha Image of the pilimage or the Image House. This was built by King Parakramabahu and is the Northern most monument in Polonnaruwa. The Buddha image is built of brick and stucco. The present Buddha image is of 21 feet in height but in the earlier periods was about 29 feet with the base pedestal. The Image house measures 133 feet by 67 feet approximately. On entering the Image house the visitor can see painted scenes from Jataka stories.The paintings found in the pilimage consists of scenes from Sasa Jataka, Vidura Jataka, Ummanga Jataka, Chulla Paduma Jataka, Temiya Jataka and Maha Sudassana Jataka. The Images of paintings are done in brick red, yellow and green colours and considers to be highly artistic. The outside walls of the image house are in a partially ruined status and what is remaining is now protected by a roof covering. Ganas or dwarf figures in various postures and lion figures in good condition are still to be seen there and considers to be of the influence of the Pallava architecture.

 

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Nissankamalla Council Chamber

 

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The Council Chamber of the King Nissankamalla is of importance to learn about the, political structure of the State during the Polonnaruwa Era. The Seating positions of the King, heir Apparent, Princes, Commanders in Chief of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister, Regional Governors, Finance Ministry, District Governers, Representatives of the Business Community and Record Keepers are designated and inscribed. The Kings 'Lion Throne' is a magnificient granite Lion in Full relief. Many uncommon views of this famous Lion Throne is displayed for the viewer.

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Parakrama Samudraya

 

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Parakrama Samudra
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Parakrama Samudra

 

Parakrama Samudra is the masterpiece of Sri Lanka's man made tanks which was built by King Parakramabahu by combining two tanks buit earlier around 4th Century. They are Topawewa and the Dumbutuluwewa. Presently the tank bund extends over 8 miles and has a maximum height of 40 feet and covers an area of over 9 square miles. Today it is irrigating around 28 square miles of paddy fields from its water.

 

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Statue of King Parakramabahu

Statue of King Parakramabahu

Statue of King Parakramabahu

 

 

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Parakramabahu Statue

 

This famous statue which is situated at Potgul Vehera site is popularly called as the King Parakramabahu statue.This high reliefed statue is eleven and half feet high and is cut out of a rock boulder. There are other opinions and views regarding the person depicting in the statue. It is said to be the sage Pulasti and also could be that of Agastya or Kapila. It is said that the figure was done by a South indian sculptor which mainly represent South Indian architecture. The figure holds an Ola leaf book in his hands and dressed in a simple manner without any royal ornaments a king normally appears with. Though the identity of the figure is not clearly established, this statue is regarded to be one of the finest sculptures in the island.

 

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Potgul Vehera

This is believed to be built by King Parakramabahu the Great who reined Polonnaruwa kingdom from 1153-1186 AD. This has been used originally as a Relic House for the Temple of the Tooth. It is suggested that this would have been renovated later during King Nissankamalla's reign and converted in to the Vatadage as seen today. The Moonstone and the Guard Stones considered to be best examples of their kind in Polonnaruwa.

In the center of this circular building, which is raised on a granite circular terrace, is the Dageba, which is made of bricks. There are four seated Buddha images facing the four entrances to the upper terrace entrances. In earlier times, this dageba had been covered by a roof , resting on stone pillars.

Circular Hall at Potgul Vehera

Circular Hall of Potgul Vehera

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Potgul Vehera or Potgul Viharaya is a recent name given to this monastery. It consists of four terraces, the first covering a larger area. The prominently seen upper two terraces holds the buildings at present. The third level terrace has 9 buildings which are thought to be the kutis for the monks. There are three entrances to the monastery and the main entrance is the one in the Eastern direction.The uppermost terrace has the circular building which earlier had a circular roof. This is also thought to be the 'Mandala Mandira' or the Circular House, built by King Parakramabahu the Great. The King used to listen to the Jataka stories of the Lord Buddha told by a teacher in this acoustically designed circular room, with plastered brick walls. There are four dagebas at the four corners of the upper terrace , of about 18 ft. diameter. This confirms that these buildings were of a Buddhist monastic complex during King Parakramabahu's reign.

 

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Roya Pavilion of King Parakramabahu-I

Royal Pavilion of King Parakramabahu I

 

 

Palace of King parakramabahu

Stone Stairway- Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu

 

 

Image of Nissanka Latha Mandapaya

Nissanka Lata Mandapa (Creeper Pavilion)

 

 

Thuparamaya Polonnaruwa Image

Thuparama Image House

 

 

Stone Book of Polonnaruwa

Gal Pota (Stone Book)

 

 

Siva Devalaya Image-Polonnaruwa

Siva Devale No.2

 

 

Reference

Anuradha Senevirathne " Polonnaruva- Medieval Capital of Sri Lanka"

Central Cultural Fund " Polonnaruva"