Gal Vihara


Gal Vihara is a rock temple of Buddha which is in the north of Sri Lanka in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa. It was initially known as Uttara Rama. It has four rock statues, each portraying different figures of Buddha. The first one is where Buddha is seated on a lotus; the second one is also a seated figure but smaller in size; the third one is a standing figure, and the last one is a reclining figure.

Parakramabahu is known to be its founder and completed the monument in the 12th century. There have been some controversies regarding the standing figure of Buddha with historians claiming that it is a figure of Ananda and not Buddha. The Gal Vihara is the most prominent of all hundred temples that were built throughout Sri Lanka by Parakramabahu. That three caves built here are namely Vijjadhara Guha (cave of the spirits of knowledge), the Nipanna Patima Guha (cave of the sleeping statue) and the Nissina Patima Lena (cave of the seated statue). The figures were considered painted with gold, but hunters melted and stole it. The code of conduct is stringent here, and one can’t take a picture of Buddha with your back towards the idol.