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MOONSTONE - POLNNARUWA

MOONSTONE - POLNNARUWA

The high quality of Sinhalese architecture and sculpture continued when Polonnaruwa became the capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura. In fact, some of the religious monuments were more impressive than those in Anuradhapura.

The Sandakada pahana or the moonstone is a unique feature in Sinhalese architecture. Though described as the moonstone because of its shape and design, it is really a semi-circular stone doorstep set up at the entrance to a stupa or vihara. The best examples are the ones preserved in Anuradhapura. Altogether six have been identified. The ones in Polonnaruwa (one pictured on this page) are not so exquisite though basically, the same features can be seen.

Describing the moonstones found in Anuradhapura as “masterpieces in the sculptor’s art”, renowned archaeologist Professor Senerath Paranavitana describes the general characteristics in the design ornamenting a moonstone thus: “A conventional half-lotus in the centre enclosed by concentric bands which, proceeding outwards, are decorated respectively with a procession of geese, an intricate foliage design, a procession of the four beasts – elephant, lion, horse and bull, racing each other – and an outermost band of stylized flames. The various elements of the design are skillfully integrated into a very effective whole. The motifs which constitute the design are symbolic.”

He sees a difference in the moonstones in Polonnaruwa. Instead of a single band of the four beasts, each animal, except the bull, has its own row in the ones at Polonnaruwa. The absence of the bull is because of Hindu influence. The bull is held in veneration by the Hindus and would not want to be trampled each time one went over the moonstone. The best example in Polonnaruwa is the moonstone at the northern entrance to the upper terrace of the Vatadage. It is finely executed, says Professor Paranavitana.

As for the animals depicted on the moonstone, each is of symbolic significance to denote four aspects of life. The elephant represents birth while the bull is indicative of decay. The lion represents disease and the horse is a symbol of death. The geese have been interpreted as representing the distinction between good and bad. Some interpret the moonstone as being symbolic of surpassing worldly temptations and reaching the ultimate goal of ‘nibbana’.

The lotus petal also forms a key feature in most moonstones. The lotus is regarded as a sacred flower by the Buddhists. The lotus figures prominently in Buddhist art and architecture. It is also mentioned at important events in the life of the Buddha. Seven lotuses sprang into bloom at the feet of Prince Siddartha, no sooner he was born and took the first steps of his life.

The ‘mura gala’ or guard stone is another major feature at the entrance to stupas and other religious buildings. Elaborate carvings are a feature of these guard stones. Generally, two guard stones have been erected on either side of the entrance, just beyond the moonstone.

Polonnaruwa is the most important of Sri Lanka’s early capitals. The shifting of the capital was mainly due to Tamil invasions. Being of a much later date, the ruins are better preserved there. Polonnaruwa is closely associated with the famous king, Parakramabahu the Great, who ascended the throne in 1153 A.D.

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    "  Dear Cyril We spent a wonderful week with you. We were so pleased to have to visited your beautiful country and we will recommend you for all of our relatives and to friends. It has been a pleasure to spend these days with you, we will never forget nice smile on your face all the time. Thank you and if one day you would like to visit Switzerland we will be raedy take you around snowy mountans! All the best, Franz family" Dr. David franz from Swiss

    "Dear Cyril, We want to thank you so much for making our trip so unforgetable and delightful. We received your name from our friends lives in Geneva who travelled with you in January 2009 and they gave you such a high recommendation that we decided to conbtact you for our two weeks trip this year. Although we have been to Sri Lanka a few times already. We have never found such an excellent driver and guide. It has been a great pleasure to visit Colombo with you and then to Koggala for two day tr..." Mr.Gabor Kato & Mrs.Ann Kato

    "Traveled in April 2013 with Cyril . Family with three young children. Cyril match the trip plan problem on his part. Familiar with every corner of this beautiful island and we have managed to produce a great 17 days. Prices respect as well - we tested three competing proposals and was the cheapest. The fact that he was working independently and not through an agency that collects coupon trips generally significantly reduces the price of the package. A modern and spacious vehicle (van with seven ..." Maozd

    "Dear Cyril, Thank you very much for wonderful holiday. Your attention to detail and care of your clients is extraordinary. We certainly hope to cross paths again and we will recommonding you to all of our friends and to family too. Many thanks again.     Paul nad Machelle Brisbane, Australia. Visited during 10/10/2012 - 26/10/2012" Mr. Paul and Mrs. Machelle from Australia

    "If you ever plan to visit Sri Lanka (and I think you should) this is your guide!!! Martha Iordanidou  - Thesoloneki - Greece  " Martha Iordanidou

    "Cyril was absolutly Fantastic,Veryhelpful, Patient and extremly knowledgable. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend and travel with him again. Whole tour was well organized and perfectly done. Kate Williams and family from UK 04th January 2015" Kate Williams UK

    "We had a trip planned with Cyril just when international travel closed down due to Covid. Cyril was great in planning a trip with me that had a great deal of flexibility and tailored to visit the places we wanted to seeUnfortunately we were unable to take the trip. Cyril's response to that was great, he dealt with everything for us in terms of cancellationsHe has kept in touch with us since then and has already contacted me with a revised plan for our trip to Sri Lanka. Which we will book with h..." Brian O: Keefe - Perth - Australia

    "Thank you so much Cyril for guiding us around your beautiful country. We thoroughly enjoyed our time which was made particularly special by your professionalism, enthusiasm and friendliness. We wish you all the best in the future. Warm regards from,  Aonghus O'Keefee and Sheela Hendricks- Ireland " Aonghus and Sheela Hendricks- Ireland

    "I want to thank Mr. Cyril for this 17 days long tour. He is an excellent chauffeur guide, always on time with a car more than the clean. He knows all the places in the Island and organized very well. Most of all, he is very kind person, always with a smile and ready to help. I want to reccommond him to all my friends. Ria Deleu Belgium Travel period 25 Jan 2020 - 10 Feb 2020 ( 17 days)" Mrs. Ria Deleu from Belgium

    "Dear Cyril, Thank you for truly amazing oneweek tour your beautiful country.We have seen so many amazing sites in such a short space of time. From Sigiriya to beautiful temples, Scenic tea gardens of Nuwaraeliya the colonial land ark hotel Mount Lavinia. We have seen so much more. You have made this an utterly memorable holiday with your expert knowledge, amazing, facinating stories, patience, careful+safe drivingand your unforgetable smile. We will cetainly recommonding your tours to all of fr..." Sara Kitson - UK

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