Gal Vihara

visit Gal Vihara

In the spiritual center of Polonnaruwa, the colossal 12th-century rock temple of Gal Vihara soars in rigorous beauty. It is an impressive Buddhist sanctuary. Yet, the primary characteristic that makes hundreds of travelers come flocking to the site is a sheer rock wall. The enduring centerpiece of Gal Vihara has four impeccably carved statues of the Buddha on its face.

Ancient Sinhalese rock carving and sculpting have worked their magic on the granite rock with the command of King Parakramabahu I. The Buddha statues are today the finest examples of their kind. And, the lush forest landscape that provides a natural backdrop to their image seems only to add to the monument’s appeal. From left to right, the first image is of the seated Buddha in the familiar “dhyana mudra” pose associated with the Buddha’s enlightenment. Another seated Buddha, offers a mystifying glimpse from the artificial cavity.

The third is arguably the most dazzling: a 7-meter standing image of the Buddha. It has attracted particular interest among historians as an unusual gesture in Sinhalese sculpture. The last image is a reclining Buddha and the largest of the four with a length of 14 meters. There are signs in its intricate carving depicting the parinirvana (nirvana after death) of the Buddha. The sculpture is a sight to marvel at.

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