Saturday, January 23, 2021

Pothgul Vehera, Polonnaruwa

Pothgul Vehera, Polonnaruwa
Pothgul Vehera is a ruined shrine complex situated at the southern end of the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. 

History
Pothgul Vehera is thought to be a modern name. The ancient name or the builder of this shrine is not certainly known. But some have suggested that it could be either the Kapila Vihara or Mandala Mandira built by King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Wikramagamage, 2004]. A Pali inscription discovered on the door-frame of the building reveals that this shrine was renovated by Rajani Chandavathi, the second chief queen of Parakramabahu I (Ranawella, 2007; Wikramagamage, 2004). 

Pothgul Vehera pillar inscription of Chandrawathi
The inscription says that the overlord of Lanka (probably King Parakramabahu I) built the entire Vihara at first and his queen (probably Queen Lilavati) rebuilt it later (Ranawella, 2007). Chandavathi, the second chief queen of that very king built a pavilion at this place (Ranawella, 2007). 

According to scholars, this inscription has been engraved after the death of King Parakramabahu I, in or shortly after the first reign of his queen-dowager Lilavati [(1197-1200 A.D.) Ranawella, 2007].

The complex
The main monument of this site is a circular-shaped shrine built on a central square terrace. It once had a roof made of bricks and on the surface of the inner walls had been decorated with paintings. It is surrounded by four small Stupas at the four corners of the square terrace. Thus it is probably a shrine room used to store sacred texts as worship objects [(Dhammadhatu) Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004]. If this is regarded as a library shrine, as its present name implies, this could be considered as the oldest library complex so far discovered in the country. As the presence of something similar to a book on the hands of the nearby Parakramabahu Statue, some believe that there was some kind of relation between that statue and the Pothgul Vehera. The ruins of several old buildings, probably the residences of monks, have also been found around the central terrace. 

The layout of the Pothgul Vehera complex is peculiar. A monastery having such a layout has not been found anywhere in the country (Wikramagamage, 2004). However, shrines of similar design are found in many south-east Asian countries.

Pothgul Vehera, Polonnaruwa .

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.71. 
2) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.51-52.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.203-204.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 24 November 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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