Built. Under ruler Parakramabahu I (1153-1186). The council chamber was the location from which the ruler enacted legislation and conducted state affairs.
Location. East of Parakramabahu I’s palace, immediately north of the barely-discernible ruins of Vijayabahu I’s palace. (Toggle Map above).
The Base and Entrance Stairs
1) Tour de force reliefs on base. The three horizontal registers encircling the council chamber’s base — holding reliefs of parading elephants, lions and dwarfs — are a tour de force, each figure rendered in a unique pose with palpable movement and energy. The elephants in the lowest register, perhaps the most compelling of the three, assume their traditional position “supporting” the levels above.
2) Stairs. Preceded by a worn moonstone on the north side of the structure, the two-tiered stairs at the entrance similarly have well-crafted decoration ( ). The railings are large scrolls, unfurling from the mouths of alligator-like makaras. The outer faces are decorated with lions, symbols of the ruler’s wisdom and power as both leader of the Sinhalese (the people of the lion) and earthly representative of the Buddha (the lion of the Sakya clan). At the top of the stairs rest two massive stylized lion guardians with their tails resting on their backs.
The Upper Platform
1) Inscription. An inscription on the stone floor at the top of the stairs identifies the structure as Parakramabahu I’s council chamber.
2) Columns. The square stone columns — arranged into four rows and featuring octagonal bevels on their upper halves — originally supported a wooden roof. They carry elaborate decoration: dwarfs at their bases, lotus flowers at their tops and Hindu-inspired hanging beads in between.
3) Ruler’s throne. The ruler sat on his throne at the south end of the hall, opposite the entrance location.