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The most impressive sculptures at Polonnaruwa are the colossal Buddha images carved on the face of granite boulder at the temple now called Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya, which was called Uttarramaya in during the kings time. There are four figures to be found at the site…
Polonnaruwa gal viharaya
Polonnaruwa, the 2nd most historical capital of Sri Lanka attracts a large number of foreign as well as local travellers’ every day. Polonnaruwa is also a UNESCO world heritage site and home to many dozens of historical monuments. The monument of Polonnaruwa is well preserved compared to the monuments of Anuradhapura; it is mainly because the most monuments of Anuradhapura are more than a thousand years older than the monuments of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara is an invention of King Parakramabahu, who had been one of the most impressive Kings of Sri Lanka.
Polonnaruwa was the seat of Sinhalese royalty in more than occasion during the eighth to tenth century centuries, and the chronicles refer to religious edifies founded in the city before it became the centre of administration in the eleventh century. Of these buildings, however, hardly any remains exist today. The earlier edifies, no doubt, became dilapidated due to the natural causes or suffered during periods of foreign invasions and civil strife before the eleventh century, and their materials were utilized in the buildings of a later date.
Statues of Gal Vihara
The most impressive sculptures at Polonnaruwa are the colossal Buddha images carved on the face of granite boulder at the temple now called Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya, which was called Uttarramaya in during the kings time. There are four figures to be found at the site, a recumbent Buddha statue measures 46 feet, from head to toe and a standing figure (erroneously believed by some to be a representation of Ananda, a disciple of Buddha), is 23 feet in height.
There are 2 seated Buddha statues, the smaller within a shrine excavated into the rock. The large seated Buddha statue is shown against an ornamented background, called Thorana. It is believed that all four Buddha statues were originally inside a shrine and they were painted or gilt. The impression that they convey today to the visitors is, therefore, not quite the same as they did to worshippers in the ancient days.
The supramundane calm achieved by the conquest of the senses, the power which this gives rise to and the compassion embracing all beings, which is a consequence of the eradication of self, are suggested by the artist in a very effective manner, and these Buddha statues have to be reckoned among the greatest work achieved by the sculptors of old Ceylon.
The folds of the drapery of the Gal Vihara images are shown by parallel groves. A few rock-cut images in a cave in the nearby Alahana Pirivena complex (Buddhist teaching centre) are in the same style as the seated Buddha in the rock-cut shrine at Gal Vihara, suggesting those statues belong to the same period. The Buddha statues in Atadage and the images of Thuparama, which are of lime-stone, depict the folds of the robe as linear ridges. They may belong to a considerably earlier date.
How do I get there?
Gal vinharaya is to be found towards the far end of the Polonnaruwa ancient city. Usually, the visitors enter the historical site at the main entrance near the Siva devala No 1. After passing the main entrance checkpoint and Siva Devala No 1, you have to turn to left (the opposite direction Parakramabahu palace and the innercity) and then continue about 1 kilometre. Gal Viharaya or Uttraramaya is to be found at the far end of the road.
How much does it cost to visit gal vihara?
All visitors of Polonnaruwa ancient city has to buy the entrance ticket, which cost $25 per person and can be bought at the historical museum of Polonnaruwa. The same ticket can be used to see all the monuments in the historical city such as Parakramabahu palace, museum, Rankot vehera, Polonnaruwa Gal Viharaya.