Explore the Lost Library of Pothgul Viharaya in Polonnaruwa

Pothgul Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple complex located in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It is believed to have been built by King Parakramabahu the Great in the 12th century AD. The complex is named after the “pothgul”, or library, which is thought to have housed a vast collection of Buddhist texts. Pothgul Viharaya is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sri Lanka and is a popular tourist destination.

History of the Pothgul Viharaya in Polonnaruwa

Pothgul Viharaya, Polonnaruwa

The temple was built by King Parakramabahu the Great, who ruled Sri Lanka from 1153 to 1186 AD. The king was a great patron of Buddhism and is credited with rebuilding many of the temples and monasteries that had been destroyed during the Chola invasion. Pothgul Viharaya is thought to have been one of the largest libraries in ancient Sri Lanka. The library was said to have housed a collection of over 100,000 Buddhist texts, including the Tripitaka, the Pali canon of Buddhist scriptures.

Renovations of Pothgul Viharaya

Pothgul Viharaya has undergone several renovations over the centuries. The most recent renovation was completed in 2016. The renovation work was carried out by the Department of Archaeology of Sri Lanka. The aim of the renovation was to restore the complex to its former glory and to make it more accessible to tourists.

Things to do and See

Explore the Lost Library of Pothgul Viharaya in Polonnaruwa
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There are many things to see and do at Pothgul Viharaya. The main attraction is the library, which is now a large, empty chamber. The walls of the chamber are decorated with murals depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology. There are also several other buildings in the complex, including a monks’ quarters, a dining hall, and a bathing pavilion.

The complex is surrounded by lush gardens and forest. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk through the gardens or take a boat ride on the nearby lake. There is also a museum on the site that houses a collection of artifacts from the site.


The temple is located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which is about 160 kilometers north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The complex is situated on the banks of the Mahaweli River.

How to Get

Pothgul Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Pothgul Viharaya is easily accessible by road. The nearest town is Polonnaruwa, which is well connected by bus and train services. From Polonnaruwa, it is a short drive to the complex.

Best time to visit Polonnaruwa

The best time to visit Pothgul Viharaya is during the dry season, which is from November to April. The weather is pleasant during this time and there is less rain.

Places to Stay

There are several hotels and guesthouses in Polonnaruwa. Visitors can also stay in the nearby town of Anuradhapura, which is about 30 kilometers away.

Nearby Attractions of the Pothgul Viharaya

Nissanka Mallas Palace Complex, Sri Lanka
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In addition to Pothgul Viharaya, there are many other historical and archaeological sites in Polonnaruwa. These include the Gal Vihara, the Lankatilaka Temple, the Nissanka Latha Mandapa and the palace complex of Nissanka Malla. There are also several beautiful lakes and forests in the area.


When was Pothgul Viharaya built?

Pothgul Viharaya is believed to have been built in the 12th century AD by King Parakramabahu the Great.

What are the main attractions at Pothgul Viharaya?

The main attractions are the library, the monks’ quarters, the dining hall, and the bathing pavilion. There are also several beautiful gardens and a museum on the site.

What are the rules for visiting Pothgul Viharaya?

Visitors are expected to dress respectfully and to be mindful of the religious significance of the site. It is also important to be aware of the weather conditions, as the site can be hot and humid during the day.