Lankathilaka Image House at Polonnaruwa (ලංකාතිලක පිලිමගෙය – පොලොන්නරුව)

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Polonnaruwa Lankathilaka Image House is a monolithic Buddha image house built by King Parakramabahu (1153-1186) lying on the South of Kiri Vehera. The building is completely made out of bricks and the outer walls are covered with elaborate designs and carvings. The Buddha statue is also completely made out of clay bricks and it has been 41 feet in height. Specially made flat bricks have been used to build this statue and today the portion above the shoulder is destroyed.

At the entrance to the Lankathilaka building is two massive pillars made from bricks. The tallest one is 58 feet in height. It is thought that these pillars would have been at least twice as tall this before destruction. According to the chronicles, this building has five stories. This too is a part of the Alahana Privena.

The two stairways to the upper floors inside the Lankathilaka stupa house are a unique design. The width of a step is only about 4 inches and each is about one foot tall. The stairways start from the Buddha Statue end and go up towards the entrance end. This unique design is used so that the user finds it impossible to climb these stairs the normal way we are used to. The only practical way to climb these stairs is sideways with your back to the walls.

This stupa house is also a fine example of a Gedi-Ge style building. The unique feature of this vault-type building is the roofs which are made primarily out of bricks in a semi-spherical fashion or as an arch. Unfortunately, the roof of this building was destroyed a long time ago.

The reason for designing these stairs in a way that they could be used only sideways is that the climber will never turn his back towards the Buddha when climbing to the upper floors which is considered disrespectful

The Lankathilaka Image house is unique in another aspect that is unknown to many. This image house is known as the only location in the country where a Nagini image can be found on a balustrade.

The entrance of all ancient Buddhist temples is generally adorned by a moonstone, two guard stones, and a pair of balustrades on the sides of the steps. The guard stones generally depict an image of Naga with Seven Hoods. Rarely can you see the female form of Naga, the Nagini on a guard stone, or anywhere else. The nagini carving on this temple is on the inner side of the left balustrade as you enter. Her head is framed by the same number of hoods as the naga on the opposite side indicating the naga and nagini were both considered equally important functionally in their role as guardians.

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Map of Lankathilaka Image House in Polonnaruwa

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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 Polonnaruwa Sacred City

The modern town of Polonnaruwa is also known as New Town, and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

Route from Colombo to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Kandy to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Through: Central Highway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo: 230 km
Travel Time: 4.45 hours
Driving Directions: See on Google map
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Route from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Batticaloa to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions: See on Google map
Through : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance: 103 km
Travel Time : 2 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map

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