Polonnaruwa Kiri Vehera (Stupa of Subhadra)

Kiri Vehera is an ancient Stupa in Polonnaruwa. Situated north of the Lankathilaka Pilima Geya, it is the second tallest Stupa in the city.
Not to be confused with Kataragama Kiri Vehera & Lahugala Kiri Vehera

Kiri Vehera, Polonnaruwa
Kiri Vehera Stupa

Kiri Vehera (lit: Milk Stupa; Sinhala: පොළොන්නරුව කිරි වෙහෙර) is a Stupa located in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Situated north of the Lankathilaka Pilima Geya, this is the second tallest Stupa in the city after the Rankoth Vehera.


Polonnaruwa Kiri Vehera

The ancient name or the builder of this Stupa is not known yet. But it is speculated that this Stupa was either built by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) in memory of his consort Queen Subhadra or it was built by Queen Subhadra herself (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The Stupa

The 28.5 m tall Stupa is considered the best-preserved Stupa among the others found in the ancient city (Ray, 1960; Wikramagamage, 2004). It has a diameter of about 88 ft at the base at the ground level and is surrounded by four frontispieces at the cardinal points (Ray, 1960). On either side of the front pieces are small rectangular Buddha shrines with brick roofs (Ray, 1960). The bubble-shaped dome rises upward from a base of three receding terraces and the original lime plaster is still visible on the dome. The present name probably derives from the fact that its well-preserved lime plaster.


Kiri Vehera inscription

A quadrangular slab with an inscription lies on the Stupa terrace.

Reign: Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Period: 12th century A.D.
Script & Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: The inscription records that the king (Nissanka Malla) was pleased to exact tribute from the Cola, Pandya and other countries. It also says that he had pillars of victory set up at Rameswara (India) and a temple (Devalaya) built bearing the name 'Nissankeswara'. On his return after the victories, a pavilion with this inscription was built for worshipping the relics of Buddha.
Reference: Wickremasinghe,1928

The slab is about 10 feet long and 5 feet 3 in. wide (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The letters are about 1-2 in. in size and represent the alphabet belonging to the latter half of the 12th century A.D. (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

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1) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. pp.593-594.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p. 215.
3) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.148-152.

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