Nelum Pokuna is the name of Colombo’s modern Rajapakse Theatre. It is named after a masterpiece of ancient Sinhalese architecture, which can be seen in Polonnaruwa. “Nelum Pokuna” is the Sinhala word for “Lotus Pond”. This is the name of a pool in the shape of a lotos petal, which once belonged to a monastery in Sri Lanka’s medieval capital.
Polonnaruwa’s Nelum Pokuna is situated 500m north of the former Demala Mahaseya, which now resembles a hill, the only one in the plains of Polonnaruwa but it is artificial and was indeed Sri Lanka’s and the entire world’s largest Stupa.
Both Demala Mahaseya and Nelum Pokuna were built by King Parakramabahu the Great. The chronicle explicitely mentions a lotus bath among many ponds constructed by Parakramabahu.
The Lotus pond is believed to have been used for ritual baths by pilgrims visiting the nearby Tivanka image house. The design of tiers of eight petalled lotuses in descending size is unique in Buddhist architecture. The granite lotus flower is of moderate dimensions, 8 metres in diameter, with five concentric laminae of eight petals.
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