Menik vihara and Rankot vihara

The northern districts of ancient Polonnaruwa were almost entirely given over to religious pursuits, home to a sequence of monastic foundations  the Menik Vihara, Rankot Vihara, Alahana Pirivena and Jetavana , whose magnificent statues, shrines, dagobas and other religious structures are amongst Polonnaruwa’s most memorable attractions.You will need a bicycle or other transport to comfortably explore these spread-out ruins, all north of the city wall

Menik Vihara

– The city’s monastic areas begin immediately north of the northern gate with the rather uninteresting scattered remains of the Menik Vihara. Little survives other than heavily restored foundations and the lower portion of a small brick dagoba .You can see the relic chamber exposed at the top of the dagoba. North of here is a further complex of monastic buildings.

Rankot Vihara dagoba

– The 54m Rankot Vihara dagoba, the largest in Polonnaruwa and the fourth largest on the island, has been ascribed to the reign of King Nissanka Malla. Like the other major dagobas in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the dome consists of earth fill covered by a brick mantle and plaster. The construction clearly imitates the Anuradhapura style. Surgical instruments found in a nearby ruined 12th-century hospital are said to be similar to those used today.


– Built by Parakramabahu and later restored by Vijayabahu IV, the huge Lankatilaka gedige has 17m-high walls, although the roof has collapsed. The cathedral-like aisle leads to a huge standing headless Buddha. The outer walls of the gedige, decorated with basreliefs, show typical Polonnaruwa structures in their original state.

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