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Home > Heritage > Polonnaruwa > Dimbulagala Rajamaha Viharaya > Pulligoda galge frescos

Pulligoda galge frescos

Five and a half kilometers south of Dimbulagala temple are the little known Pulligoda galge frescos. Crossing a delightful little lake named Hitcha Pitcha wewa, and circuiting the changing range-scape of Dimbulagala, an unsealed road leads you to this lonely grotto.

A short climb up through a maze of jungle and rock boulders, and guided more by instinct than by a path, you reach this forgotten pocket, considered a milestone in the history of our artistic heritage. A fragment of colors are seen on the rock wall of the shallow cave.These may have at one time covered a wider surface.

The surviving fragments depict five male figures seated on lotus cushions placed on a broad seat which may have been a fragment of a larger scene of devotees in an attitude of veneration. Art scholars have described it thus: the male figures depicted here have reached a stage of mental attainment (sovan, sakradagami, anagami or arhat) as signified by the oval aura shaded red behind each head. The saintly figures are seated with their legs crossed. Their soles painted red with cosmetics like their palms. The lower garments consist of pantaloons reaching down to the ankle of plain red or stripes. Their head dresses vary distinguishing two figures as Brahmins. Another wears a white band of sacred thread across the bare upper body marking a sage. Ear rings, necklaces, armlets and , bracelets are also worn.. One figure is green in complexion. One of figures holds a lotus bud with the stalk while the left arm is folded and held across the chest in a charming gesture of offering. The others seem to hold their palms together in graceful worship. The pigments of earthy red, ochere, yellow and green stands on a background of white with small circular designs.The frescoes even after many years still remain vibrant in their impact radiating spirituality.

The dating of these frescoes are subject to debate. Some scholars believe that they are contemporary with the Polonnaruwa paintings (12th century), while others propose by referring to the material technology a date as early as the 4th century AD. (even older than Sigiriya.)

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror, May 29, 2006

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Updated March 26, 2007
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