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Rankot Vihara

Considered to be the largest temple in Polonnaruwa, the ancient Rankot Vihara is a structure of marvel that stood out from the rest in the kingdom. Built to mirror the great Ruwanweliseya of the ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom, the temple in Polonnaruwa is one of the most revered stupas in the Cultural Triangle, making it a perfect setting for the history enthuse to explore and understand how Buddhism thrived in the Polonnaruwa Kingdom’s heyday.

Best Known For

  • The Rankot Vihara is best known for being one of the largest temples in the country and the largest temple in Polonnaruwa. Boasting of impressive craftsmanship and religious significance, the temple follows a design that resembles that of its counterparts in Anuradhapura, implying the importance of Buddhism during the time.

Interesting Facts

  • The Rankot Vihara is believed to have been built during the reign of King Nissanka Malla of the Polonnaruwa era during the 12th Century AC.
  • Although the king ruled for a short period, from 1187 to 1196, the king made significant contributions to the development of the kingdom, in terms of irrigation development and culture as well.
  • One such remnant of how Buddhism influenced the culture of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom is the Rankot Vihara.
  • The vihara was built in the way of the Anuradhapura Maha Vihara, thus the reason as to why the Rankot Vihara resembles that of the iconic Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura.
  • The stupa was built entirely out of brick and has a base diameter of around 170-metres, along with a height of 33-metres.
  • Its colossal size makes it the largest temple in Polonnaruwa and the 4th largest in the entire island.
  • According to a stone inscription close to the stupa, the original name of the complex was called ‘Ruwanweli’, due to its close resemblance to its Anuradhapura counterpart.
  • However, it later came to be known as ‘Rankot Vihara’, which literally translates to ‘Golden Pinnacle’ temple.
  • The monument in Polonnaruwa has been so carefully preserved that the entrance that served as the supervising point for King Nissanka Malla still stands today, thus making it a great destination for the budding archaeological enthuse.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The ancient stupa can be visited throughout the year, however, the ideal times to witness the colossal structure is during the early hours of the morning, since it is possible to avoid the large crowds that gather in the site.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulation set forth by the authorities, as this is a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Refrain from bringing any plastic or polythene in the area.
  • It is best to be clad appropriately too, since the heritage site is considered to be a holy site to Buddhists.
  • Do bring plenty of water and some snacks, since the place can get quite warm during the day.
  • Photography is allowed in the area, so go ahead and see which lens suits the ancient structure.

Situated in the heart of the Cultural Triangle city of Polonnaruwa, the Rankot Vihara is a treasure trove of history, culture and craftsmanship; something that should not be ignored while in the ancient city.

Title image by: Jehan Gamalathge

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Tickets

Foreign Adults
USD 25
(Ticket Includes Entrance to Other Ruins of the Ancient City)
Foreign Children
USD 12
(Ticket Includes Entrance to Other Ruins of the Ancient City)

Tickets At

Type

Culture and Heritage

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