Sunday, May 12, 2013

The 10th Century Palace of King Parakramabahu.

The ruins of the palace of King Parakramabahu the Great standing in the citadel.

Polonnaruwa was the second kingdom of Sri Lanka. It was inhabited since the period of Anuradhapura kingdom. Agrabodhi-IV (673 – 689 AD) and Agrabodhi-VII (781 – 787 AD), Kings of Anuradhapura Kingdom, had palaces built in Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa had been the main area of paddy cultivation while Anuradhapura being the centre of administration since 1st century AD.

The ancient Entrance to the citadel of Polonnaruwa.

In 1065 AD, King Vijayabahu-I (1065 – 1120 AD) put an end to the 70 year long invasive Chola regime of Raja Raja, and became the supreme ruler of Sri Lanka. He had to spend time and resources extensively to reconstruct the reservoirs, irrigation system, monasteries and other important constructions which were let to destroy during the Chola invader Raja Raja’s rule. Therefore, there is no building in Polonnaruwa which could have identified as King Vijayabahu’s palace.

King Parakramabahu the Great

King Parakramabahu the Great (1164 – 1197 AD) was the next king to launch a massive development program in the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. He built a city with a Palace, a Royal Conference Hall, ponds for water-sports, temples, hospitals, and marketplaces, fortified with giant outer walls and a moat around it. Parakrama Samudra (or the ‘sea of Parakrama’) was the gigantic reservoir built by King Parakramabahu the Great, by combining five smaller existent reservoirs. He constructed or repaired 165 dams, 3910 canals, 163 big reservoirs, and 2376 smaller reservoirs, according to the chronicles.
Inside the Palace: walls and some of the rooms.

The Palace

King Parakramabahu the Great built his luxurious palace called ‘Vaijayantha Prasada’, a seven-storied building with one thousand rooms in it. The remaining parts of the palace today show evidence of three storeys (see the top picture). The Chronicles have described this palace as a building in heaven, and that is the reason why they called it by the name ‘Vaijayantha Prasada’, after the abode of God Sakra.
Two-inch thick 10th century plaster with decorations still remaining on the Palace walls.
The grand entrance of the palace is facing east. After the entrance, there is a vast lobby that spreads all around the palace which is believed to have been under a roof when it was built. Huge wooden baulks were used to support the weight of the upper storeys. On some walls the ancient plaster can still be seen.

Magha Attacks

The palace of King Parakramabahu was destroyed twenty eight years after the death of the king, by the Tamil invader Kalinga Magha who arrived in Sri Lanka with 24,000 strong army from India. Kalinga Magha was a tyrant and an oppressive ruler. He completely destroyed Polonnaruwa, massacred the people, burnt down temples and libraries with ola-leaf scripts. Magha looted all the wealth of Polonnaruwa and ported to India. Magha did not leave the majestic palace of King Parakramabahu. He burnt it down. The metal used to build the palace melted by the extreme heat of the fire and dripped down, making huge metal balls. These metal balls can still be seen in the palace premises.

Molten metal balls: tyranny of Kalinga Magha.