The Polonnaruwa Quadrangle
Polonnaruwa id the second most ancient city of Sri Lanka and part of most Sri Lanka tours and excursions. This article is about the Polonnaruwa Quadrangle, which is one of the best places to visit in Polonnaruwa, in order to see the rich historical past of Polonnaruwa, due to the well-preseved monuments.
Polonnaruwa Quadrangle is a raised stone banked site in the direction of north from the intercity of Polonnaruwa ancient city. There are numbers of important monuments are built on the site in the past. Most of the monuments are constructed for the purpose of storing the tooth relic. Thuparama which is built of rock (Gedige style building) is located in the South-west corner of Polonnaruwa Quadrangle.
Thuparama considered being the best-preserved building among the constructions in the city. History of the building is unknown and it had been used as an image house, and it is aligned east-west with an entrance bay on the eastern side. By considering the external ornamental of the building, it may be dated back to the 12th century. Two other image houses in Polonnaruwa (Lankathilaka and Thiwanka-image house) are shown a lot of similarities with the Thuparama image house. Other two image houses are located further to the north of the medieval capital.
Circumambulation of this monument enables the visitor to observe that the lower reliefs in brick and stucco around the monument are lions with forepaws raised in each figure. Above the stylobate, the walls of the shrine are ornamented with numerous buildings shewn in relief. The image house is very similar to the pronaos (mandapa), which has another side entrance from the direction of north, then a vestibule and finally the sanctum which houses the image of Buddha. The main Buddha statue of the building that is in a seated posture is situated in the centre of the building. The huge Buddha statue which is located on a colossal brick pedestal is severely damaged and be seen close to the back wall of the shrine. At present, there are within the shrine a number of the limestone upright as well as seated statues of the Buddha which date from an earlier period.
Vaulted roof and the central part of the buildings are still in good condition, it indicated the manner in which the roofs of other buildings of the period were constructed.
Vatadage (Circular image house) is located in the direction of North-East from the Thuparama image house. Vatadage is one of the most important buildings in the Polonnaruwa Quadrangle and dated back to the 12th century. There is a dagoba within the circular building. The Dagoba is constructed on a circular platform built of stone masonry, which in turn is built on a bigger circular terrace circumscribed by a rounded kerb with an entrance porch on the northern side. There are four seated Buddha statues placed against the dagoba and around it, Buddha statues are facing the four entrances to the upper terrace in the cardinal directions.
There had been three circles of stone pillars around the dagoba, which suggest an existence of a roof over the dagoba or the area around the dagoba. Outside the second circle of pillars is a brick wall, and a carved stone screen which connects the outermost line of pillars encompasses the shrine. The reliefs on this screen consist of quatre-foil flowers arranged in a diaper pattern with small flowers in the interstices. The remaining wall of the upper terrace is decorated with figures of dwarfs and lions. The guard stones of the Vatadage are in good condition especially the guard stone of the eastern side considered being one of the best-preserved monuments in the city.
Thuparama the best preserved monument in the Polonnaruwa Quadrangle
Thuparama regarded as the best-preserved ancient monument in the city of Polonnaruwa Quadrangle. Thuparama is an image house on the premises called the Quadrangle, where there are 7 religious constructions. The quadrangle is situated at the highest point of Polonnaruwa.
The age of Thuparama is not known to anybody but most archaeologists opine it was originated during the medieval period, nearly 1000 years old. The external ornamentation of the building had been very helpful to judge the antiquity of the temple. Thuparama is one of the three image houses in Polonnaruwa and other image houses are also located near Thuparama.
Thuparama has a large collection of murals on the outside wall of Thuparama. Round the building is lions with a fore-paw raised. Thuparama is a brick building and it is the best-preserved historical monuments in Polonnaruwa. This impressive building had been an image house. There are several standing and a seated Buddha statue even today. It is difficult to imagine this image house was in very bad condition as it was discovered during the British administration in the country.
Thuparama image house is dedicated to Buddhism, the most widely practised religion in Sri Lanka. The main statue of the image house had been placed on a raised platform of bricks. The pedestal is colossal and centrally situated. The pedestal can be seen even today but the statue is not to be seen anymore. At present, there are several standing limestone Buddha statues. Those are in the size of a human. One seated Buddha statue in the meditation posture is also located on the left side of the pedestal.