Alahana Pirivena Monastery
Alahana Pirivena is the great monastic complex founded by King Parakramabahu I in the 11th century. It was believed to have been built on a cremation ground, thereby giving the name Alahana Pirivena.
The monastery has many terraces with beautiful surroundings of rocky outcrops, streams and ponds. It was found that the complex has separate units marked off by boundary walls and entrance doorways. Each unit had its own living cells, and several of them seem to have shared a common bath house, refectory and other such facilities for monks.
Buddha Seema Prasada
The Buddha Seema Prasada was built on a hill and it was the chapter house or convocation hall, where monks met every fortnight. This building features a fine ‘mandapaya’, which is a raised platform with decorative pillars.
The Lankatilake Viharaya is an image house and a colossal Buddha shrine situated amongst serene surroundings which was built by the great King Parakramabahu I.
The two soaring walls of this image house reaches 16 metres high and has a narrow aisle which looks very unusual and unique. The architecture depicts Sinhalese styles and patterns of that era. There is a headless Buddha statue due to natural disasters and treasure hunters. The entrance of the complex is guarded by two guard stones called “Mura Gal” and balustrades decorated with dragon statues and lions which are really stunning. This gedige shrine type is believed to be an originally five storied complex. Unfortunately, the domed roof of this gedige has not survived the centuries. This Lankatilake Viharaya has been revered and respected from a religious point of view along with Buddhist and Hindu culture.
Kiri Vehera (Milk-white Vihara)
This milk-white shrine is the best preserved dagoba in Polonnaruwa. The building was found unscathed when the jungle was cleared away even after it was built 700 years ago. The dagoba was named Kiri Vihara due to its gleaming white exterior and it was built by Queen Kalinga Subhadra Mahadevi who was a consort of King Parakramabahu. The ruins of a few small structures lie around it. During various excavations around the vihara, a three chambered relic was found which reveal the form and architecture of the relic chambers during the Polonnaruwa period.
In the north of the Alahana Pirivena Complex, there are ruins of another monastic complex, the Uttararama Monastery. Part of this collection is the Gal Viharaya with its world renowned statues. There are four figures of the Buddha carved out of a small cliff face of granite, which are considered to be the best rock sculptures in the island. The earliest is the standing Buddha, 7 metres tall and considered the finest. The others were added later by King Parakramabahu I. There is a seated Buddha against a background relief and another smaller seated figure inside a rock cut chapel. The largest figure is the 14m reclining Buddha, which is truly an eternal peace carved in stone. Such was the tender, loving skill of the unknown sculptor that every detail was beautifully carved, even the bolster yields to the serene head, a samadhi image in meditation posture; a seated Buddha image inside a cave; a standing Buddha image which is 23 ft in height, and recumbent Buddha image measuring 46ft which depicts the passing away of Buddha.