The Gal Vihare is a rock temple of the Buddha situated in north-central Sri Lanka. It was constructed in Polonnaruwa in the 12th century by Parakramabahu the Great. His architects excavated the shrine and left an inscription describing their work.
The central attraction of the shrine are four large statues of the Buddha, which were carved into the face of a granite boulder by Parakramabahu's architects. These include a recumbent statue of the Buddha measuring 46 ft. and a standing statue which is 23 ft. in height.
There is also a standing figure on a lotus throne inside the shrine which has been identified by some historians to be that of Ananda, the Buddha's chief disciple, weeping over the recumbent figure of the Buddha who has just attained Nirvana. However some, including Dr. Andreas Nell disagree, suggesting the figure is that of the Buddha, and the expression of sorrow is due to wear caused by the elements.
- Discover Sri Lanka - More information & images about Gal Viharaya
- Galvihara - a unique display of rock art
- Ancient Polonnaruwa and its environs