Saturday, September 28, 2019

Polonnaruwa Siva Devale No. 2

Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2
The Siva Devale No. 2 (also known as Shiva Kovil No. 2) is one of 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 center 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 impact of the Chola rule on Sri Lankan culture is clearly visible in the monumental and sculptural art of the Polonnaruwa period. During this period, the Cholas built temples in Polonnaruwa for the worship of Hindu deities such as Siva, Vishnu, Ganesha and Kali.

Siva Devale No. 2
The Siva Devale No. 2 is considered as the oldest Hindu shrine located in Polonnaruwa ancient city and was built by King Rajaraja I (Wikramagamage, 2004). According to a Tamil inscription found in situ, this Siva temple has been named after Vanavan Madevi (Vanavan Madevi Ishwaram), a consort of King Rajaraja I (Ray, 1960).

Three inscriptions written in Grantha Tamil characters are found on the outer walls of the Devalaya (Arunachalam, 2004). The earliest of these inscriptions has been dated to the reign of Rajendra Chola I (Pathmanathan, 1987).

The longest inscription found in this temple is dated in the reign of Parakesarivarman alias Udaiyar Sri Adhirajendra Deva [(1070 A.D.) Arunachalam, 2004; Pathmanathan, 1987]. It records about an endowment (a lamp and five gold coins) made to the temple by a certain Chola Pallavaraiyan, a dignitary of high rank from Mankalappadi in Virpeddunadu (Pathmanathan, 1987). According to the inscription, the endowed lamp should be maintained from the interest on the money (five gold coins) deposited (Pathmanathan, 1987).

The temple is entirely built out of stones (mainly granite) and remains in a satisfactory state of preservation (Prematileke, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004). Remaining architectural details indicate the same stage in their evolution as in South Indian temples from the Chola epoch (Ray, 1960).

The shrine mainly consists of three parts: the Garbhagrha (the sanctum) and the Antarala and Ardhamandapa (Prematileke, 1990). The Antarala which is facing to the east, gives the access to the Garbhagrha. The stone-cut Siva-linga, the main religious object of worship is found erected in the Garbhagrha (Wikramagamage, 2004). The roof is a octagonal shaped dome and end at a height of 31 ft 9 in. above the ground (Prematileke, 1990; Ray, 1960). The exterior walls of the shrine are decorated with ornate carvings and some of the stone slabs contain inscription written in Grantha Tamil characters. A broken figure of bull Nandi, the vehicle of God Siva is presently placed in front of the shrine building. Besides that, many Hindu sculptures have been found from this site.

Hindu religious rituals are performed here even at the present time (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Bronzes from Polonnaruwa Siva Devale Bronzes from Polonnaruwa Siva Devale Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2 Polonnaruwa Siva Temple No. 2
1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.3-4.
2) Pathmanathan, S., 1987. Hinduism in Sri Lanka (Circa AD 1000-1250): Indian Influences on the Development of Saivism. p.53.
3) 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.
4) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.590.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.213.

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This page was last updated on 4 June 2020
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