Parakamabahu’s Council Chamber

Parakramabahu's Council Chamber is where the king would have granted audiences to his ministers and officials. The wooden roof has vanished, but the imposing base survives, banded with friezes of dwarfs, lions and galumphing elephants which seem to be chasing one another. The sumptuous steps are embellished with makara balustrades and a pair of fine moonstones, and topped with two of the rather Chinese-looking lions which came to be associated with Sinhalese royalty during the Sri Lankan middle ages; there are other fine examples at Nissankamalla"s Audience Chamber and at the palace at Yapahuwa — the latter is shown on the nation's ten-rupee note. The platform supports four rows of columns, finely carved with floral decorative patterns.


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).

Parakaramabahu’s Council Chamber

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.

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