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Home > Heritage > Anuradhapura > Pancavasa

Pancavasa (Biso Maligawa)

- Pancavasa (Biso Maligawa) with the Moonstone -

Pancavasa, now commonly known as Biso Maligaya or the queen’s palace for no apparent reason is most famous for the moonstone found in the main flight of stairs on the centre building. Though called queens palace this is undoubtedly an image house. This moonstone is considered the best and most well preserved moonstone in this era.

The outer edge is designed with a ring of flames and below that is a ring filled with 4 types of animals – The elephant, the horse, the lion, and the bull. The next is a circle of a floral pattern (“liyawela”). Next is a line of swans with a twig of flower and a leaf on their mouth. Next is again a floral pattern and at the centre is lotus with petals all around the semi circle on the moonstone.

The meanings of this combination of patterns are debated widely. One interpretation is that the out ring of fire represents the never ending life and the pains associated with it. The four animals represent the four noble truths (“Chathurarya Sathya”) of Buddha. It is said that the swan can separate out milk from a mixture of water and milk. Therefore once a person realizes the four noble truths they can have true understanding of good and bad. They are capable of filtering out the good just like the swan filters out milk. Once you do that you are capable of attaining the “Nibbana” represented by the lotus.

Another interesting fact is that the bull in the moonstones was apparently dropped in the Pollonnaruwa era (see Vatadagê in Pollonnaruwa) . Moonstones in this era lack this symbol and sometimes the bull can be found on a higher pedestal on the sides of an entrance. This is thought to be the influence of Hindus. The bull is a sacred animal to the Hindus and trampling of this symbol was probably disrespectful.

Photos before restoration from

Moonstone and Steps


Biso Maligaya

Moonstone and Steps


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Updated : February 24, 2007
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