Polonnaruwa has Located North central province of Sri Lanka about 230 km from Colombo capital. It takes about five and a half hours of direct drive by a car.
Polonnaruwa has Located North central province of Sri Lanka about 230 km from Colombo capital. It takes about five and a half hours of direct drive by a car. At present Polonnaruwa is a famous main town of Polonnaruwa District, where the World famous Ancient Heritage city, […]
At present Polonnaruwa is a famous main town of Polonnaruwa District, where the World famous Ancient Heritage city, historically developed as the country’s capital from the 11th – 13th Century. Polonnaruwa is considered one of the best preserved historic cities in the world. Polonnaruwa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its abundance of historic remains.
What are the reasons that Polonnaruwa became the second capital?
A Sinhalese prince called Kitti from the Southern region of Srilanka became the King of SriLanka as Wijayabahu the Great in 1076 defeating South Indian Cholas. He took the help from the enemies of Cholas in South India in various ways, sometimes by way of exchanging princesses from the two countries. In a masterly campaign of strategical war techniques, he captured the port of Manthei (North West) and port of Eastern province by sending two armies from the coastal lines. Finally, he marched through the center, invaded Polonnaruwa and defeated Chola rule in Lanka.
King Wijyabahau was formally consecrated in Anuradhapura by following the country’s traditions.
He is one of the most important kings in Lanka, who liberated the country from a foreign rule. He ruled the country for 40 years. Most of his time devoted to restoring peace in the country. He was able to repair much of the irrigation systems and encouraged the trade and brought some prosperity back to the country.
The second important ruler was King Parakkramabahu the Great. During his period, the country became prosperous. He ruled for 33 years and built several Buddhist institutions such as Alahana Pirivena,
several monuments developed irrigation systems by building large reservoirs like Prakkrama Samudra, exported rice, developed foreign trade and pioneered to make one Buddhist Sect from then divided three sects and patronize the order of monk in the country.
After Prakkramabahu, the important king was Nissanka Malla, who came from Kalinga- India.
He was famous for traveling through the country and established many inscriptions.
In 1215 a tyrant called Magha from Kalinga – India invaded Lanka and destroyed everything, which comes across. That was the end of the Polonnaruwa kingdom. What we are going to see today, the work of these three great kings.
King Prakkramabahu built this large reservoir about 900 years ago combining three ( some says five) smaller tanks. The water was brought from two canals, which are more than 36km long from Amban Ganga. The dam or the bund was 15 km long and the height is 40ft. It covers an area of more than 14 sq. km. Even today there are about than 20 sluice gates and irrigate 43 sq km. of paddy fields.
It connects the network of canals up to Kantalei and excess water follows to the sea in Trincomalee. The blocks of rock, we see at the dam is called Wave comb (Rala Panawa) which protects the dam from erosion and evaporation.
This is the only statue of a king we can see in Polonnaruwa. The superb sculpture, which presents the ancient art of the P’naruwa to the visitor, is also mysterious. The general opinion is that to be a representative of the great king in a sage and farmer form. Some belief as a figure of a Sage. On the other hand, it cannot be a statue of a sage, because there are no some essential features like the sacred thread, trident, and goblet. A similar figure was found in the Panduwasnuwara excavations, which show a connection to the king Prakkarama Bahu.
The service he has done to agriculture made him a great person. The figure bends in three places and carved out on soft granite, which gives a natural color to the statue. However, it is considered as a masterpiece of Sri Lankan art.
Behind the Rest House, The Deepa Uyana was built by Parakkarama Bahu on land resembled like an island.
This was his pleasure garden with various pavilions for relaxation. The chronicles describe vividly and mention that they were similar to heavenly gardens. Historians mention the description brings to their mind the Versailles of Louis xiv or the splendor of Moghul emperors. The Baths and Palace complex of Nissanka Malla.
King Nissanka Malla liked this place so much that he built his palace and the council chamber. The circular bath was built by the king PB and the pool was added by Nissankamalla. It is like a present day bathroom with an overhead tank and the showers which are decorated with stone carvings. Water to the overhead tank was brought underground pipes and to the pool, through a small slice of the tank, which still can be seen.
This is one of the most interesting buildings in P’naruwa because the inscriptions on the columns inside the building record the positions occupied by the king’s council, headed by the king on the magnificent ‘Lion Throne” giving us a picture how the political system of its day must have worked. Accordingly, the council consisted of the king, heir of the throne, princes, Commander in chief of Armed forces, Finance minister, Regional governors, District governors, representatives of the business community, record keepers.
The inscription at the entrance of the citadel belonged to King Nissankamalla, to say what he has done to the subjects.
The palace complex has been described in the chronicles as a palace in heaven. It was named as “Weijayantha Pasada” with thousand rooms, waving flags, golden bells, decorated with plants, lianas, and flowers. It breathed out continually the perfume of flowers and incense. Still, we can observe three stories made out of bricks and wood.
The ground floor is used as a lobby, storehouses and security purposes. There is a staircase made out of granite. Some walls had been decorated and painted. The thick walls denote the lesser deep foundation. Behind the palace, are the palaces for the queens and the quarters of royal servants.
The open courtyard and the palace buildings were covered with a wall. On the right, in the Northwest corner of the building is a toilet. A thick plaster which was made out of lime from seashells, (not from corals) ant hill soil, grounded sand, a glue of a tree had been applied.
This was built on an elevated flat form to show the grandeur of royalty. The pillars with beautifully carved pillar heads indicate who should sit at the respective pillars. The platform was decorated with the freeze of elephants, lions, and Ganas (dwarfs)which are fine examples of P’naruwa sculpture. The entrance was adorned with two stylized lion figures depicting the Sinhalese nation.
This is another fine example of royal lifestyle in Sri Lankans. According to the chronicle, this is situated in the Nandana Uyana (Nandana gardens).
The water was taken from the adjoining canal and flows back the used water to the same. The water, which may have perfumed, flowed in the bath from sides and the solid masses of stone ensured that even on the hottest day, the water was cool. By the side of the bath is a charming small pavilion, which was probably used for changing room.
Between the bath and canal, a toilet has been thoughtfully provided for the royal bathers. We can see the water showers too.
The Hindu shrines about seven, which are the oldest buildings found in the site. During the Chola occupation, these shrines have been built for their religious purposes.
The Siva Devala No. 2, situated at the entrance of the citadel is an intact building showing ancient south Indian architecture. The ‘Lingam and Yoni’ are the symbols of worship. The temple was built by fixing granite slabs without using any plaster or bonding agent.
The Siva Devala N0 1 is relocated by the Dept. of Archeology to build the road. Some of the fine bronze sculptures exhibited in the Polonnaruwa museum were found in and around of these shrines. We can see a strong Hindu influence in art and craft of Polonnaruwa.
A wall of more than 6km surrounded the city. It had many streets and buildings. The houses of rich merchants have been built with bricks, while poor have been built mostly of wood, wattle and daub and thatched. The king supplied food for not only monks but also for Brahmins (Hindu priests) A hospital has been built for people as well as monks. There were nurses, who prepare food both solid and liquid
This is situated in the middle of the city. The Gatehouse with a steep flight of steps leads to the gatehouse at the eastern entrance to the platform. There is a foot- bath at the bottom of the steps,
so that the worshippers could wash their feet before entering sacred grounds.
The gatehouse itself must have been at least two stories high.
This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Polonnaruwa. Sri Lankan architects designed the ‘vat adage’ to protect and house a Stupa in which a relic was enshrined. The conical roof was supported by the circles of stone columns in the center. There are three levels; the first and the second levels with a traditional entrance with moonstone and guard stone, the third circular walls decorated with elaborate stone carvings with traditional designs and flowers.
The inside walls were painted, four Buddha statues, made out of different kinds of stones placed in the four cardinal points. The second moonstone is one of the best examples in Polonnaruwa. The lion and bull cannot be seen there and I the bull has been elevated to the upper side of the guard stone. The entrance shows how decorative our traditional entrances were believed to be built during the reign of Parakkrama Bahu
This was built for the worship of the Buddha image and of the characteristic of Sri Lankan design. There was a seated image of Buddha in the center.
There are several Buddha statues, which are belonged to the Anuradhapura period. They were made out of limestone with a mix of mica. Archaeologists believe that the eyes of the Buddha statue were studded with Blue sapphire and when sun and moonlight came through the hole of the wall on the above, a reflection was effected to the other statues.
The lime plaster on the brick wall has lasted well over the centuries and the fine stucco figures decorate the southern wall. A number of architectural models can be seen around the walls, which give an excellent idea of what the buildings of Polonnaruwa must have looked like.
According to an inscription, this was built by King Nissankamalla to listen to the Buddhist texts chanted by monks. The pillars are similar to lotus stem in a stylistic manner. It gives an impression of the advanced stone carvings at that time. Buddhist railings surround the hall.
Built by King Wijayabahu and King Nissankamalla respectively. Both are two storied buildings to enshrine the Tooth Relic built by two kings. Buddha statues decorative stone pillars and stucco carvings can be seen
Unique inscription made by King Nissankamalla to warn the people to behave well, not to give the throne to a person other than from the Kalinga clan and also to inform his invasions abroad.
It is mentioned that the piece of rock was brought from Mihintale by his army.
We can understand the development of literature and literacy among the people.
Its supposed to be a Dagaba with seven stories. Archaeologists say that similar type of buildings can be seen in the monastery in Thailand.
The colossal image house occupies the centre of the complex. Inside, there had been a 55 feet high Standing Buddha statue with three bends. The statue was made out of bricks and plastered with a thick layer of lime. Various shapes and sizes of bricks have been used according to suit the purpose. This might be the first instance that a drummer’s hall to be seen.It located outside the main image house.
All walls in and outside are finely decorated with stucco carvings and inside with murals.
A queen of PB called Subhadra built this. It is remarkable of the perfection of its proportions and is one of the best- conserved Stupas in SL.The original plaster of the 12th Century was over plastered in 2011.
This was built by King Parakkrama Bahu and elaborated temple complex in the chronicle. This is one of the most known and popular sites among the pilgrims and visitors. The four Buddha statues, which are in a perfect state of preservation, are considered as masterpieces of Buddhist iconography. (The science of sculpture.) Each of the images has been carved in a way that uses maximum possible area of the rock, and the height of the rock itself. The group consists of a Great Sitting Buddha image of deep meditation posture on a throne decorated with lions and thunderbolts and behind the head of the Buddha is a halo. The carvings of the left of the arch are different than the right side.
Hence it is believed to be the work of two artists. The next image of Buddha is in the artificial cavern cut out of the rock. There are figures of attendant deities depict the story of Buddha’s preaching in heaven to his mother. It is in the deep meditation posture and believed to be gold gilded. The two figures at both side supposed to be the God Vishnu and Brahma. The inscription we see, between the rock-cut cave and upright Buddha, is called Polonnaru Kathikawata (An agreement between Monks and the king)
It records, that the king requested the monks to unite to one sect instead of three and sets out the reformed rules of conduct.
According to the tradition of the iconography of Buddha statue, the left foot is drawn slightly back into a more comfortable position depicts the final moment of His earthly life entering Nirvana the state of Supreme Enlightenment. These statues are the fine examples of Buddhist sculpture, which depicts the facial expressions than presenting a real human or an exaggerated god figure.
The great personality of Buddha (Mahapurisa) and qualities of Buddha, compassion, loving-kindness, rejoice for other’s joy and equanimity, (Metta, Karuna, Mudita, Upekka) The sculptor was so genius that he could show the pillow was bent inward due to the weight of Buddha’s head.
The complex may have been with four separate shrine rooms with one façade and terrace. Polonnaruwa kathikawathais code of conduct of the Buddhist monks drew up and declared by the king as advised by the monks.
Situated in a large monastery mentioned in chronicles as Jetawana.the Thivnaka Image house is in the centre of the complex.
Like Thuparama and Lanka tilaka, it is a brick building to house the tallest standing brick built image of Buddha in the ‘thivanka’orthribangaform of Buddha (Bending at three points-knees, waist and shoulders of the body)
The facilities have been provided with worshipping of three ways; Sirasa Vandana,‘Pada Vandana and Pradakshina (Head, feet and around or circumambulatory.)
The shrine also contains a unique collection of twelfth Century murals of the classical school of painting, a continuation of the earlier periods seen at Sigiriya.
This is a bath made out of stone, located in the monastery gardens for the use of the monks. It was built in tires of eight-petal lotus flowers, which probably provided seating for the monks, while they were having their baths. This is a unique architectural and sculptural design of pools and ponds in the period. This has inspired to build the Nelum Pokuna Theatre of Performing Art.Share this tour
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