This magnificent 13 metre high statue of Lord Buddha is carved out of solid granite. It dates back to the 5th Century and the sophistication of the architecture is reflected by the fact that on a rainy day it is believed that one can see droplets of water falling off the tip of the statue’s nose and hitting the ground exactly between the toes of Lord Buddha.
Thuparama is classed as the oldest shrine in Sri Lanka. It is believed to hold the collar bone relic of Lord Buddha. Guard stone at Thuparama -These types of guard stones are often found in pairs at the entrance to temples, palaces and other holy sites and serve as an omen to protect the site.
Situated in Anuradhapura, the Ruwanwelisaya is classed as the pride of the great Emperor Dutugamunu. Created in the 2nd Century BC, this shrine represents a water bubble shape.
Built on the cremation grounds of Mahinda Thera who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka, the Jethawana Monastry at 120m high was considered the third tallest monument in the world during the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Royal Palace
The remains of the Royal Palace are a reflection of this enormous structure made out of wood and stone seven storeys high (31m by 13m or 100ft by 43ft). The upper floors were made of wood but only the remains of the 3m thick lower floors now exist.
East of the Royal Palace remains of the audience hall can be found, which was used as a meeting place by the Kings to hear petitions from the noblemen and foreign rulers. The stunning lion and elephant statues at the top of the steps near the entry of the audience hall, was a direct symbol of royal power. The Kumara Pokuna (Royal Bathing Pool) can be found next to the audience hall was filled with water from the streams on the palace grounds.
Nissanka Malla’s Palace
Although Nissanka Malla’s Palace (1187-1196) is less well preserved, its attractive location close to the shore of the lake makes this site popular amongst visitors. The palace remains include a Royal Bathing Pool, the King’s Council Chamber where the names of the King’s ministers can be sighted on the pillars of the Chamber.
Gal Vihara is considered to be one of the most sacred Buddhist Shrines. Gal Vihara is also known as the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge and is home to the standing image of Buddha, 7m tall (23ft). Next to this the image you will sight the magnificent reclining statue of Buddha (14m 0r 46ft long).
The well known Quadrangle guarded by its own rectangle walls is home to some of the most valuable collections of ancient buildings. The Watadage (reliquary) can be found in the South East of the Quadrangle and the shrine of the four seated Buddha images were surrounded by a circular building (18m or 59ft in diameter) with four entrances.
The Thuparama temple located in South West of the Quadrangle is the only ancient building to remain with its roof still intact.
The Latha Mandapaya is located West of the Watadage, a small shrine surrounded by stone columns that are topped with carved lotus buds and stone Tellis. The Latha Mandapaya is followed by the Atadage, where one will find the ruins of a tooth relic shrine and a small group of Hindu shrines.
Hatadage, located North of Watadage is another tooth relic shrine and to the East of this one can find the Gal Potha also known as the Stone Book. The Gal Potha is a 9m (29ft) stone carving of one of the palm leaf books which resembles the books that were used to record the holy Buddhist texts and royal family history.
The Satmahal Prasada is located in the North East corner of the Quadrangle. This unique six storey building is one of a kind and unlike any other buiding foud in Sri Lanka. Within the Quadrangles perimeter walls one can also find the three devales; Siva Devale, Vishnu Devale and Siva Devale. The Siva Devale is the oldest stone temple which has survived in Polonnaruwa.
Dambulla can be described as a magnificently large rock more than 160m above the surrounding land. It is more than 1.5 km around the base and the summit is at 550km. King Walagamba used the caves on Dambulla as a sanctuary. After his return home from a 14 year exile in the 1st Century BC, King Walagamba had a spectacular cave temple built at Dambulla.
Dambulla is well renowned for its cave temple and was listed as a World heritage site in 1991. The cave temples have numerous religious and cultural paintings and sculptures. One will find several reclining Buddha’s including the popular 15m long sculpture of the dying Buddha in Cave 1. Fresco paintings can be found on walls and ceilings of the caves and reflect stories from Lord Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history. Cave 2 is the largest and the most spectacular. It contains over 150 statues that demonstrate the Mahayana influences on Buddhism during the introduction of Hindu Gods such as Vishnu and Ganesh. In the valleys below Dambulla, there is a monk school where monks reside in monasteries as they practice Buddhism as part of their daily life.
Sigriya is a gigantic fortress that was created during the sixth Century. It is built on a 200m high rock and is one of the most spectacular sites that represent Sri Lanka’s history. It is one of the must see destinations of Sri Lanka!
On the Northern and Western sides of this well planned fortress one can find a pathway that provides access to the three acre wide summit. The quality of materials and the high standards applied in creating this fortress is illustrated by the 9 ½ ft plaster wall that protects this pathway. This highly polished wall even till this day, after fifteen centuries of exposure to sun and rain provides a clear reflection of anyone who looks at the wall.
This magnificent structure is linked to royal and political history of Sri Lanka. The tale of King Dhatusena I (459-477AD) states that he ruled the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. A coup by Prince Kasyapa (the King’s son by a non-royal affair) and the King’s nephew Migara led to the attack of the throne and as a result the execution of King Dhatusena I. After his Victory, now a King, Kasyapa created a new capital at Sigriya.
After the kasyapa era, Sigriya became a Buddhist monastery during the thirteenth and fourteenth century.