Deeepa Uyana ( Island Garden)
Have you ever wondered at what lies outside and to west of Parakramabahu's walled palace enclosure extending to the shores of the Parakrama samudraya. What mysteries may lie buried underneath the forests of stone stumps of varying heights and grass mounds?
This area which is today called the Promontory, was amongst the many parks built by Parakramabahu and Nissankamalla. Anciently it was referred to as the Dipuyyana in Pali meaning an Island Garden. The Chulavamsa mentions some of the constructions that graced this beautiful Island garden The Dhavalaghara was a white house made entirely of stucco, the Vidyamandapa was a pavilion built to illustrate the various branches of science, the Dolamandapa was a swing pavilion , the Kridamandapa was a sports pavilion, the Mayuramandapa was the peacock Pavilion, the Sanimandapa was the Pavilion of Saturn, and it was made out of Ivory, Adasamandapa was a Mirror Pavilion, . Srngaravimana of four storeys adorned with pictures . Anantapushkarani was pond of stone whose layers esembled the coils of the serpent king Ananta and Citrapuskarani or the picture pond adorned with pictures.
According to the above account this garden would have been like no other. A grand garden complex - maybe even grander that the Great Parakramabahu's palace complex.
During the time of king Nissankamalla , an inscription reveals that Nissankamala renamed this park as " Kalinga Park" And that he built his magnificent palace of seven stories (within forty five days) and his council chamber here. The inscription reveals that Nissankamalla, while seated on a stone here, watched dancing and listened to music.
Today the best preserved of the buildings found here is the council chamber of king Nissankamalla, positioned close to the Parakrama samudraya.. It is a rectangular structure of stone masonary on a raised platform in two tiers. It has two entrances. The main entrance is on the northern side while there is a small side entrance on the western side.
The base of the building shows reliefs of elephants and lions. Sadly these are fading.
Upon the platform are the remains of four rows of pillars, twelve in each row believed to have supported the roof, The most interesting feature of these stone pillars is that they carry short inscriptions indicating the position occupied and the ministerial responsibilities of the members of the Royal Council headed by the king who occupied the Lion throne. The seat beside the lion throne to the right was meant for the heir apparent, while eight of the inner rows of pillars are inscribed with inscriptions indicating the seats of other officers, viz, the Prime Minister, the Governor, The Commander in Chief, the Secretary, the Record Keepers, the Sheriffs and members of the Council of Commerce.
The imposing granite lion sculpture at the south end of the building and heading the rows of pillars is believed to have comprised part of the kings throne.
As such this structure affords an opportunity to understand how the Council of Ministers sat together with the king in taking important decision affecting the country..
by Kishanie S. Fernando
February 10, 2007