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Gal Vihara

Gal Vihara, meaning rock temple, nestles in the cultural triangle of the island, in the magnificent city of Polonnaruwa.

Once known as ‘Uttararamaya’ (which translates to Northern Temple), it is a spellbinding creation of the ancient Sinhalese monarch Parakramabahu and exhibits the unfathomable artistry and craftsmanship the ancient Sinhalese possessed in sculpting and rock carving.

Comprising four statues of Buddha that are beautifully and intricately carved in on a single granite surface, the likes of these rocks reliefs cannot be found anywhere else on this island.

While two of the statues portray Buddha in a seated meditating pose and another depicts Buddha in a standing pose, the fourth and the last statue, which is about 50 feet in length, shows Buddha in a reclined. This reclining statue is recognised as one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

In addition, the remnants reveal that there existed four image houses replete with frescoes attached to the rock boulder, enshrining each of the statues.

The sheer brilliance of the ancient artisans, radiating through these statues, render Gal Vihara one that is a must-visit site in Polonnaruwa.

Title image by: Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau

Type

Culture and Heritage

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