Asokaramaya : Pankuliya Buddha Statue (අසෝකාරාමය : පන්කුලිය සමාධි බුද්ධ ප්‍රතිමාව)

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Asokaramaya is located in a beautiful surrounding in the village of Pankuliya. This is a fairly unknown site to the average pilgrim but has one of the best locally sculptured Buddha statues in the country today. This statute equals the quality of the famous Samadhi Statue and the Tholuvila statue (which is now kept in the Colombo museum). This statue is also known as Pankuliya Buddha statue. But unfortunately this area has been rather neglected recently and not visited by pilgrims.

This monastery is is made in the form of a pabbatha viharaya architecture. Archaeologists believe that Pabbata Vihara were built merging with a natural rock formation. Pabbata Vihara are built by arranging several rectangular building areas (courtyards) at different levels surrounded by water. In the upper courtyard itself are the four sacred buildings arranged in specific order. In the ancient architecture book ‘Manju Sri Bhashitha Vastuvidyawa” (මඤ්ජු ශ්‍රී භාෂිත වාස්තුවිද්‍යාව) written in Sanskrit, these buildings and standards are well explained.

The basic feature of these monasteries is a large rectangular precinct or sacred quadrangle which contains the four major shrines, a stupa, a bodhighara, a patimaghara and a prasada which has been identified as the uposathaghara. VijayaramayaPankuliya AsokaramayaPacina Tissa Pabbatha ViharayaPuliyankulama Pabbata Viharaya (Pubbaramaya)Toluvila and Vessagiriya are the temples of this tradition in Anuradhapura. Kaludiya Pokuna (Dhakkinagiri Viharaya) in DambullaLahugala Magul Maha Viharaya, Menikdena, Pulukunava in the Gal Oya valley, a group of shrines at the foot of the rock at Sigiriya and Moragoda in Padaviya are the other provincial sites where Pabbata Vihara have been identified. (Bandaranayake, 1974).

In addition to this very fine statue Asokaramaya is surrounded by thirty now ruined buildings including the ruin of a small dagaba in an area of about a hundred yards square. In the sacred enclosure there are four image-houses, and round this, grouped as best as the uneven ground on the bank permitted, are the residences of the monks with the out-houses attached to them. A large artificial pond with a small bund on one side, completed the monastery (Weerasooriya, 1939). This is thought to be a nunnery and the original name of this site is not known.

This statue is said to belong to the 9-10th century and is made of dolomite. The Buddha is seated in virasana and displays Abhaya and Ahavana mudra. The eyes are hollow indicating that they have been studded with precious stones in the past. There is a hollow socket at the top Ushnisha which would have been sued to deposit relics or for mounting a Siraspatha (head-dress). the The statue is 6 feet 9 inches (2 meters) in height and 6 feet wide knee to knee. (Seneviratna, 1994). It is the only instance so far known in Ceylon of a seated figure having the hands in the gesture called Abhaya Mmudra, that is Freedom from Fear (Devendra, 1952).The flight of steps retain a inscription written in 8th century script (Wikramagamage, 2004).

This site can be accessed through the road leading to famous Gal Palama. You can ask directions from the villagers once you fall on to the road. The road leading to this temple ends at a paddy field. Form there you have to walk across the paddy field on a foot path to reach this site.

Sketches of the Ruins of Pankuliya from 1892

The following sketches are from the Plans and Plates for Annual Report 1892 by HCP Bell.


  1. Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.112
  2. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, p 180.
  3. Devendra, D.T., 1952. Guide to Anuradhapura. 2nd ed. Colombo: [Govt. Press], pp. 57-58.
  4. Weerasooriya H.E., 1939. Historical guide to Anuradhapura’s ruins. Colombo: W.E. Bastian.
  5. Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture – The Viharas of Anuradhapura. Leiden: Brill.

Also See

Map of Pankuliya Statue (Asokaramamya) in Anuradhapura

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and though Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttalam you will pass scenic Wilpattu area. the From Kurunegala there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is though Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the commonly used is the Kurunegala – Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo :210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :2o3 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel time : 3.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

Driving directions to Pankuliya Statue from Anuradhapura

Route from Anuradhapura Railway Station

Distance : 7 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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