Toluvila Ruins at Anuradhapura (අනුරාධපුර තොලුවිල පුරාවිද්‍යා නටබුන්)

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Toluvila Aramic Complex lies in the outer circle of the ancient Anuradhapura city, close to the Anuradhapura railway station. It has been identified as the place where the Great Mahinda Thero took shelter on their way from Chethiya Pabbatha to Maha Viharaya in the 3rd century BC. Toluvila has been identified as a Pabbata Vihara Complex based on architectural features which includes a moat surrounding the Vihara complex. A large number of ruined buildings surround the main image house which is on an elevated platform. This main image house is the most prominent and preserved though no statues exist.

Many archaeologists believe that Pabbata Vihara was built by 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 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).

The monastery appears to belong to the late Anuradhapura period (7-9th centuries). The original name of this site has not been discovered and it is now known as Toluvila, the name of the village. (Seneviratna, 1994)

Toluvila consists of ruins of a once magnificent image house. Three granite caved images were discovered in this image house, one seated and 2 standing. The seated statue in the Samadhi posture measures 5 feet 9 inches in height and is considered the most elegant Samadhi Statue in Sri Lanka which is now moved to the National Museum in Colombo. A smaller bronze replica of the granite statue found underneath the seat is also kept in the National Museum.

The image house of the Toluvila is an Architecturally interesting building. Within the outer walls of the monastery is the shrine complex. Standing at each end of the monastery is the sacred quadrangle to the north and the shrine complex to the north. Some scholars believe this to be a Bodhigara and not an image house.

Altogether there are ruins of over 100 buildings scattered around this monastery. ‘The sacred enclosure is situated at its northern end on a raised bank of earth. It was composed of a small stupa at its north-eastern end, an image house to the south of the stupa, a second image house to the west of the first, and a Vatadage (stupa house), in which at one time had been housed a miniature stupa. The stupa at the northeast corner is a beautiful structure, but now sadly gutted and rifled of all its treasures. Four flower letters are found around the stupa.

References

  1. Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.214.
  2. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, p 214.
  3. Bell, H., 1914. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon Plans and Plates for Annual Report 1894. Colombo, Ceylon: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon.
  4. Bell, H., 1904. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon – North-Central, Sabaragamuwa, Central Provinces – Annual Report – 1894. Colombo, Ceylon: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon, pp.3-5.
  5. Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.214.
  6. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, p 214.
  7. Bell, H., 1914. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon Plans and Plates for Annual Report 1894. Colombo, Ceylon: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon.
  8. Bell, H., 1904. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon – North-Central, Sabaragamuwa, Central Provinces – Annual Report – 1894. Colombo, Ceylon: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon, pp.3-5.
  9. Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese Monastic Architecture – The Viharas of Anuradhapura. Leiden: Brill.

Also See

Map of Toluvila Ruins at Anuradhapura

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Driving Directions to Toluvila Ruins at 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
Route from Anuradhapura Railway Station to Toluvila Ruins at Anuradhapura
Distance : 700 meters
Travel time : 5 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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