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

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

This monastery is made in the form of pabbatha viharaya architecture. Archaeologists believe that Pabbata Viharas were built merging with a natural rock formation. Pabbata Vihara is 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 a specific order. In the ancient architecture book ‘Manju Sri Bhashitha Vastu-vidyawa”) 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 around this, grouped as best as the uneven ground on the bank permits, 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 9th–10th century and is made of dolomite. The Buddha is seated in virasana and displays the Abhaya and Ahavana mudras. The eyes are hollow, indicating that they have been studded with precious stones in the past. There is a hollow socket at the top of the head for Ushnisha, which would have been used to deposit relics or for mounting a Siraspatha (headdress). 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 Mudra, which is Freedom from Fear (Devendra, 1952). The flight of steps retains an inscription written in the 8th-century script (Wikramagamage, 2004).

This site can be accessed through the road leading to the famous Gal Palama. You can ask directions from the villagers once you fall onto the road. The road leading to this temple ends at a paddy field. From there, you have to walk across the paddy field on a footpath 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. A 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

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 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

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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