Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Atadage is a relic shrine located in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It has been identified as the Temple of the Tooth Relic built by King Vijayabahu I [(1055-1110 A.D.) Jayasuriya, 2016; Ray, 1960].

The building
Atadage is considered the oldest building located in the Sacred Quadrangle (Puja Chaturasraya or Dalada Maluwa). The building is square in shape and an oblong vestibule projects from the front side which faces to south direction. Approximately the structure is 22.5 m in length and 25.5 m in breadth (Wikramagamage, 2004). The stone pillars at the entrance part have been decorated with nice carvings (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Initially, it was a two-storied building and on the ground floor a standing Buddha statue (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). The upper floor was probably made of timber and had been supported by 54 stone pillars, each 8 ft. in height (Ray, 1960). This upper floor was accessed through a granite staircase and a few steps of it still remain at the site. The sacred Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic of Buddha may have been deposited on the upper floor of this building (Jayasuriya, 2016).

Near the Atadage is the Velaikkara inscription inscribed in Grantha, Tamil and Sinhala scripts. According to the inscription, the Tooth Relic which was in the custody of Rajaguru Mugalan Thera had been deposited here and its protection was entrusted to the Velaikkara soldiers who were the hired guards of the king (Wickremasinghe, 1928). Also, this is the place where the first anointment ceremony (of Vijayabahu) was held (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The inscription further reveals that Atadage was the house of a colossal statue of Buddha in which is held annually the ceremony of unloosing the sacred eyes (of the Buddha statue) and applying collyrium to them (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

The carved pillars The standing Buddha image
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.76.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.434.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major Natural, Cultural and Historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p. 211.
4) 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.242-255.

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This page was last updated on 2 July 2022


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