July 11, 2012

0275 SRI LANKA - Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (UNESCO WHS)

With more than 500 years before the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka, the Chola invaded the island and put an end to the two great dynasties, the Moriya and the Lambakanna. But in 1055, a prince only 15 years old, named Kitti, became king of Ruhuna,  take the name Vijayabahu, and began the war against invaders, that after 17 years he will be able to displace, reuniting the country for the first time in over a century, and moving the capital to Polonnaruwa (216 km from today Colombo).

However, the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa was under the reign of the grandson of Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu I (1153-1186), who "created within a triple-walled enceinte a fabulous garden-city, where palaces and sanctuaries prolonged the enchantment of the countryside." The most important monuments built on its reign are the Lankatilaka, an enormous brick structure which has preserved a colossal image of Buddha, the Gal Vihara, with its four gigantic rock sculptures, and the Tivanka Pilimage, where wall paintings of the 13th century illustrate the jataka (narratives of the previous lives of Buddha).

Nissamkamalla (1187-1196) constructed also splendid monuments, as the Rankot Vihara (the Golden Pinnacle Dagoba), the enormous stupa in image (175m in diameter and 55m high), the fourth largest in Sri Lanka. Their successors formed intimate matrimonial alliances with stronger South Indian kingdoms, until these links superseded the local royal lineage and gave rise to the Kalinga invasion in 1214, followed by the Arya Chakrawarthi invasion in 1284 and moving the capital to Dambadeniya. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

About the stamp
The stamp, depicting Rhinohorn lizard, belongs to Horton Plains National Park set, about which I wrote here.

Polonnaruwa - Wikipedia
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa - UNESCO official website

Sender: Ravindra Ratnapala (direct swap)
Sent from Colombo (Sri Lanka), on 18.04.2012
Photo: Juergen Schreiber

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