A sublime representation of perfect peace, attained; and a wondrous example of Sri Lanka’s ancient art of stone sculpture, this unique rock temple in Polonnaruwa is an unforgettable sight. Built during the reign of King Parakrabahu in the 12th Century, these statues, carved out of sheer granite and still in complete preservation, display the impressive talent of the their creators – whose skill, experts believe, were far greater than others before them. The cave complex – around 27 meters long and 10 meters in height, contains four shrines; and was known as “Uttararama” (The Northern Temple) in the beginning of its history. The images depict a large seated figure, a smaller seated figure inside an artificial cavern, a standing figure and a reclining figure; each exquisitely detailed and hewn maximising the length and breadth of the rock. Here, monks were consecrated into priesthood, and a code of conduct was inscribed for them on to the same rock face as the images; this too, survives to this day. Every visitor to this place of sanctity is still humbled by the utter quietude of these giant impressions – an inspiring experience, not easily forgotten.

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