Potgul Vihara Complex

Potgul Vihara and the disputed Statue

From the museum a scenic walk along the raised bank of the lake will bring you to the Potgul Vihara and the Parakramabahu Statue.

Potgul Vihara

Potgul Vihara is a circular image house surrounded by four small dagobas. This is thought to have been built by the great King Parakramabahu. The central room is thought to have housed a monastic library where the city’s most sacred texts would have been stored, protected by massive walls which reach a thickness of around two metres at ground level. Although the roof of the building is non-existent most of  the walls are in tact and their are fragments of paintings still visible on some of the walls.

The layout of the complex is unique to the country although similar type of layouts have been found in regions such as South East Asia the largest of such the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.


The disputed Statue

The principal attraction, however, is just to the north: an imposing 3.5-metre-high statue of a bearded figure, thought to date from the ninth century, which has become one of Polonnaruwa’s most emblematic images. It’s usually claimed that the statue is a likeness of Parakramabahu himself, holding an object which is either – a palm-leaf manuscript, representing the “Book of Law”, or a yoke, representing the burden of royalty (the less reverent claim it’s a slice of papaya). Another theory holds that the statue represents a sage named Pulasti, a hypothesis lent credence by its position near the monastic library.

Potgul Vihara - Polonnaruwa

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