Naipena Viharaya : Vishnu Devale No. 4 : Siva Devale No. 5 (නයිපෙන විහාරය : විෂ්නු දේවාලය අංක 4 : ශිව දේවාලය අංක 5)

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The ruins known as Naipena Viharaya lies away from the main cluster of ruins and the ancient main street of ancient Polonnaruwa Kingdom. Here infect lies 2 kovils. On the left is the larger structure which is called the Siva Devale Number 5. Adjoining it is a smaller structure now identified as s Vishnu Devale Number 4. Unlike other Kovils in the areas this has been built by bricks and today only the stone pillars remain of this building.

This kovil is believed to built during 936-1155 CE by the Cola invaders from India. The larger structure which is the Siva Kovil has 5 rooms before you enter the main chamber. The roof has been constructed in form of a Gedi-Ge using clay bricks. There is a stone built Yoni and a Shiva Linga in the central chamber.

During the excavations in 1908 a large number of bronze and cast iron statues were discovered from the Siva Kovil No 5. The most elegant is the 90cm tall bronze Shiva statue in the form of Nataraja, the god of dance. Four armed god Nataraja is dancing balancing his weight on right foot. The upper arm is holding a kettle drum and a flame, symbols of creation and destruction. Lower arms are in Varada and Gajahasta mudras. The left hand points downward to indicate sanctuary for the soul of the devotee. The heir is in the form of flowery-braided locks ending in tight curls, and whirling in the dance.

On the proper right side, in the flying hair, is a figure of Gailga (represented as a nagini), on the left a cobra and the crescent moon. The head-dress contains a skull and terminates in a fan of Cassia leaves ; a pearl fillet encircles the forehead ; a man’s earring is wom on the right side, a woman’s on the left. The whole figure is enclosed in a fiery arch (tiruvasi), arising from the mouths of a pair of addorsed makaras. Nataraja is standing upon a demon shown as a dwarf (Apasmara or Muyalaka) who symbolizes spiritual ignorance.

The second Nataraja image found at this site is equally similar and exquisite and only lacks the fiery arch. In addition, some other bronze statues of Siva Saints, a concept which had originated in South India and imported to the Sri Lanka has been discovered at this site.

Hindu Shrines Discovered in the Ancient Polonnaruwa Kingdom

  1. Siva Kovil No. 1
  2. Siva Kovil No. 2
  3. Siva Kovil No. 3
  4. Siva Kovil No. 4
  5. Siva Kovil No. 5 (Naipena Viharaya)
  6. Siva Kovil No. 7
  7. Vishnu Kovil No. 2
  8. Vishnu Kovil No. 3
  9. Vishnu Kovil No. 4 (Naipena Viharaya)
  10. Ganesh Kovil

A carving which represented a cobra with seven heads has made this site popular as the “Naipena Viharaya”. Naipena simply means head of the cobra. Even though many images of Hindu gods have been found in the site no image of God Vishnu hasn’t been found.


  1. Coomaraswamy, A.K. (1913) The Arts & Crafts of India & Ceylon. London and Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis.
  2. Coomaraswamy, A.K. and Pearson, J. (1914) Bronzes from ceylon: Chiefly in the Colombo Museum. Ceylon: Colombo Museum (A No 1).
  3. Silva, R. et al. (2007) History and Archaeology of Sri Lanka Volume II – The Art and Archaeology of Sri Lanka I – . Padukka, Sri Lanka: Central Cultural Fund.
  4. සෙනෙවිරත්න අනුරාධ (1998) පොලොන්නරුව : මද්‍ය කාලීන ලක්දිව අග නගරය . කොළඹ 7, Sri Lanka: පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තුමේන්තුව .

Also See

Map of Naipena Viharaya : Vishnu Kovil No 4 : Siva Kovil No 5 at the Ancient Capital of  Polonnaruwa

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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 as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

Route from Colombo to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Kandy to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Though : Central Highway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :226 km
Travel time : 4.45 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Matale – Dambulla – Habarana
Distance from Colombo : 145 km
Travel time : 3.0 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps
Route from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa Sacred CityRoute from Batticaloa to Polonnaruwa Sacred City
Though : Maradankadawala – Habarana
Distance from colombo : 105 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Chenkaladi – Valachchena
Distance from colombo :100 km
Travel time : 1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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