Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharaya Ruins in Anuradhapura (අනුරාධපුර පාචීන තිස්ස පබ්බත විහාරය නටබුන්)

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Many archaeologists believe that Pabbata Vihara were built by 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).

Ruins of the Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharaya (Pachina Tissa Pabbata Viharaya) lie hidden from view beside the high-level sluice of the Nuwarawewa Reservoir. Until recently this site was referred to as the Palace of Prince Saliya due to lack of understanding of the significance of these buildings. At the four corners of the roughly quadrangular platform, enclosed by a large moat, are the remains of four shrines.

There had been an elephant wall around the terrace accommodating the sacred building (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharya was built by King Jettatissa (266-276) who gave it to the monks of the five great monasteries. At the consecration festival of this new Vihara, the King gave lavish almsgiving. He also brought to Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharya and set up the great and beautiful stone image of Buddha which Devanampiyatissa aforetime had placed in the Thuparamaya. (Geiger, 1912). However, just a few years later, his younger brother, King Mahasen (276-303) removed this Buddha Statue and placed it at Abhayagiri Viharaya, in a building specially constructed for the purpose (Senaveratna, 1930)

In 1945 when the late Dr. Senarat Paranavithana was carrying out excavations at this site he came across the vestiges of an octagonal structure to the south-east corner of the temple complex. Commenting on the findings of this monument Paranavitana says, “… lying on the platform and debris close by were three stone carvings in relief of auspicious objects. One had a representation of a chank, another or the double fish, and a third of an object like a stool. Perhaps on the platform were placed bas-relief carvings of the eight auspicious objects (in Skt. astarangala, in Sinhalese Ashtamangala)“. Apart from this brief note he has not revealed any other information pertaining to this discovery (Karunaratna, 1980).

These three auspicious objects are carved on rectangular slabs of stone. Although these slabs are not uniform in their dimensions, there is no doubt of the fact that they form a homogeneous group. Along the four sides of each of these rectangular stone slabs, there is a border roughly 2 1/2 inches in breadth, framing the symbol represented in low relief in the center. (Karunaratna, 1980). The five slabs with the remaining symbols of Ashtamangala have not been discovered.

Based on the evidence found, it could be concluded that a stupa that stood on the octagonal platform adorned with the eight auspicious symbols was conceived as the world mountain Meru, the axis of the world arising from the mythical lake Anavatapta, the latter representing the primeval waters from which the world originated. Although this temple was built in the 3rd century, this, however, does not mean that the octagonal structure is a work of the 3rd or 4th century A.C. According to Senaka Bandaranayake, the constructions, of which the ruins now remain belong to the period 5th century A.C. The Ashtamangala that embellished the octagonal monument at this site too may be considered as belonging to the same period of time (Karunaratna, 1980).


  1. Mah|can|cama and Geiger, W., 1912. The Mahavamsa or the great chronicle of Ceylon. London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press.,p.77-138.
  2. Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.156
  3. Karunaratna, T., 1981. The Auspicious Symbols that Adorned the Octagonal Monument in the Premises of the Pacinatissa-Pabbata Vihara at Anuradhapura. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, New Series Vol XXV, pp.69-78.
  4. Geiger, W., 1998. Cūlavaṃsa being the more recent part of the Mahāvaṃsa – Part I (1929). 1st ed. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services,
  5. Senaveratna, J., 1930. The Story of the Sinhalese. Colombo: W. M. A. Wahid & Bros.
  6. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, p 218-220.
  7. Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture – The Viharas of Anuradhapura. Leiden: Brill.

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Map of Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharaya Ruins

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Driving Directions to Pacina Tissa Pabbata Viharaya Ruins (Anuradhapura)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most 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 :203 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


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