Lankathilaka Image House

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Sandaruwan Madduma Bandara - Getty Images

A dravidian style ancient image house from 12th-century BC, Polonnaruwa Lankathilaka must have provided shelter and a regal outfit for the 41 feet high standing Buddha statues it houses. The massive 56 feet tall structure demonstrates the engineering and architectural marvels of ancient Sri Lanka.

Guarded by the two guardstones (mura gala) and welcomed by the dragon faced balustrades (“korawak gala”) this image house is known as a “gedige” in Sinhalese. A “gedige” is essentially a Dravidian style building. The inner sanctum of the image house is 26 feet by 14 feet. There are aisles built on both the sides leading to the standing Buddha statue. It is believed that the aisles are built to be narrow so one would not turn their back to the statue, but walk backwards and then use exits on each side. The narrow staircases suggest that the image house consisted of a raised pavilion. There are remains of the ancient paintings inside the sanctum, suggesting that once it has been a colourful prestigious shrine.  

The Buddha statue has been destroyed by various invasions and only the torso of the statue remains now. 

The dravidian influence is evident by the amazing decorative figures on the outer walls.