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Gal Vihara

Gal Vihara: Thervada Buddhist Temple at Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Sri Lanka with 3 Buddha Statues of heroic proportions as well as a smaller image having a touch of Mahayana Buddhist influence, is the best specimen of Buddha statues hewn out of solid granite in Sri Lanka.

History of Gal Vihara

According to the Culavamsa, the second part of Mahawamsa, the unparalleled historical chronicle of Sri Lanka, Girl vihara, an archaeological wonder of the orient near the Demalamaha seya stupa at Polonnaruwa was constructed by King Parakrambahu the Great (1153-1186 A.C), the supreme builder of the Sinhalese Buddhist Nation. Gal Vihara statues, ambitiously conceived as well as gloriously developed according to the Oriental canons, on an abrupt boulder of dark granite about 27 meters in length and 10 meters in height at the centre and sloping towards the ends are still in perfect preservation with their irresistible charm and sublimity.

All four images hallowed out of the single massive slab, bringing to life serene facial expressions and graceful flow of the robes, are highly credible efforts to capture the limitless empathy and the boundless knowledge of Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha, the Tathagata (the one who came thus), the Omniscient. The ravages of time, rainfall, rumbling as well as warmth have done no damage upon the statues as if gods, the superior and resplendent beings in some other worlds have protected those for centuries.

Location of Gal Vihara

The Buddha statues at Tantrimalai close to glorious capital of ancient Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) though almost as enormous as the Buddha statues at Girl Vihara once called Uttararama (Sinhala: The Northern monastery), because being found in the northern market of the spiritual city of Polonnaruwa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is about 18 kilometres north of the promontory situated between Parakrama Samudra, and the Castle at the very early medieval city of Polonnaruwa. It is less than half a kilometer from the comprehensive oblong site, unnaturally banked up, whereon are located Kiri Vehera Dagaba, Jetavana Dagoba and also other historical, cultural and archeologically attractions.

Standing Buddha Statue

The standing Buddha is 7m tall and is said to be the finest of the collection. The unusual crossed setting of the arms and sorrowful facial led to the theory that it was a photo of the Buddha's adherent Ananda, grieving for his master’s departure for nirvana, since the reclining image is next to it.

Reclining Buddha Statue

The reclining Buddha depicted entering parinirvana (nirvana-after-death) is 14m long. Notice the subtle depression in the pillow under the head as well as the lotus symbols on the cushion end and also on the soles of Buddha's feet. The other 2 images are both of the seated Buddha. The carvings make superb use the natural marbling in the rock. The one in the small rock cavity caries is smaller and of inferior quality.