Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1

Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1
The Siva Devale No. 1, also known as Shiva Kovil No. 1 (Sinhala: පොළොන්නරුව ශිව දේවාලය අංක 1), is one of the Siva temples situated in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The Anuradhapura Kingdom of Sri Lanka was invaded in 993 A.D. by the South Indian King Rajaraja I (985-1014 A.D.) and his son, King Rajendra Chola I (1014-1044 A.D.) completed the conquest in 1017 A.D. by taking the control of the country. They chose Polonnaruwa as their administrative centre and ruled Sri Lanka from 1017 A.D. to 1070 A.D. until they were defeated and expelled by King Vijayabahu I (1055–1110 A.D.).

The throne of Polonnaruwa Kingdom after King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) was passed to King Nissankamalla (1187–1196 A.D.) and then to the hands of a few rulers who were weak in reigning (Dias et al., 2016). As a result of that, the country's political stability became poor and the situation was comported for the invasions carried out by several Tamil invaders from South India. Magha (1215–1236 A.D.) of Kalinga (India) who came with a large army from Malabar (Kerala) invaded Sri Lanka during this period and became the ruler of the country.  He ruled Polonnaruwa for 21 years until he was expelled in 1236 A.D.

Siva Devale No. 1
Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1
While Siva Devale No. 2 was built in the Chola style in the name of the queen of King Rajaraja I, the original name or the builder of Siva Devale No. 1 is not known. However, the architecture of the temple indicates that it may have been built during the 13th century A.D. Therefore, the temple is believed to be a product of the Pandya style built after the occupation of Polonnaruwa by Magha of Kalinga.

Ruins of another old monument?
The base of this shrine was in a hazardous condition for a long period and had subsided recently. To remove the weak base of the monument properly and to strengthen and reconstruct it again, the Siva temple was technically dismantled by the authorities. However, several news portals reported in 2019, that some ruins which are apparently of Buddhist origin were discovered and identified from the base of the current Siva temple.

A short stone post with a record in 12 lines of Grantha-Tamil characters was discovered from the hall (Mandapam) of the Siva Devale No. 1 (Bell, 1907). It records that the stone was set up by Lanka Vijaya Senevirat, a Sinhalese General, by the orders of King Gajabahu II for some purpose which is not clear (Bell, 1907).

Another stone slab/seat containing a Sinhala inscription in five lines was found inside Siva Devale No. 1 (Wickremasinghe,1928). It records that the seat was the one which Nissamkamalla used to occupy when performing the function of lustral bathing at the ceremony of propitiating the nine planetary gods (Wickremasinghe,1928).

The existence of a Hindu shrine alongside of main Buddhist edifices may signify the religious tolerance exercised by the Sinhala Buddhist royalty. The Siva Devale No. 1 which was erroneously called the Dalada Maligaya (the Temple of the Tooth Relic) by the local people, is located between the citadel and the Sacred Quadrangle. It was distinguished by H. C. P. Bell as Siva Devale No. 1 in his Sessional Paper No. V of 1911 (Arunachalam, 2004). Considering the location is situated, this temple may have been regarded at that time as an important shrine.

The shrine has been constructed within a quadrangle 150 ft. by 75 ft. bounded by a brick wall (Prematileke, 1990). It is built with fitted granite blocks without any binding material between them. The outer wall has been decorated with nice carvings including figures of sages. The inner chamber without a roof houses a stone-cut Siva-linga, the main religious object of the Siva worshipers.

The temple is most significant for the discovery of the first hoard of Hindu bronzes now exhibited in the Colombo National Museum (Arunachalam, 2004; Prematileke, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004).

Related articles: Nataraja (Colombo National Museum)Siva Parvati (Colombo National Museum)Uma Maheshvara (Colombo National Museum)Manikkavacakar (Colombo National Museum)

The Siva-linga, Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1 Broken sculptures, Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 1 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 1 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 1
See also

1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.1.
2) Bell, H.C.P., 1907. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: North-Central, Northern and Central Provinces. Annual Report - 1907. p.37.
3) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.178-179.
4) Prematilleke, L., 1990. The architecture of the Polonnaruwa Period B.C. 800 - 1200 A.D. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.56.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.208.
6) 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.146-148.

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This page was last updated on 3 May 2023

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