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Kiri Vihara, Polonnaruwa Overview

Kiri Vihara is a dagoba or stupa in Kataragama region in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, North Central Province, Sri Lanka. This an 80 feet tall, whitewashed, peaceful stupa is the second largest stupa in the town. Kiri Vihara was constructed in the 11th century AD, by King Parakramabahu's queen, Queen Subhadra. Its original name was Rupavathi Chaitya. Later the name was changed to Kiri Vihara, which means 'white stupa', which is because of its limewashed coating.

The stupa is within the Alahana complex, which is a well-known training centre for monks and also encompasses a hospital with the latest surgical instruments. The complex also consists of other smaller stupas built around Kiri Vihara which stupas are considered as burial chambers for honorary men and priests. Kiri Vihara is of straightforward and essential design and is yet an architectural marvel due to which it withstood natural disasters and thefts.

Since this site is of utmost religious significance to the locals, tourists are expected to cover their shoulders and knees while visiting the ancient stupa. Clicking photographs with the back facing the statues of Lord Buddha is considered as a sign of disrespect, and is thus disallowed. Walking around this site wearing shoes is not permitted. Therefore, it is recommended that tourists wear socks because the land tends to become too hot to walk barefoot.

Kiri Vihara is one of the most well preserved ancient stupas in the country. It is amidst extensive ruins, which adds to the grave beauty of the area. This stupa attracts those who are interested in history, culture and tradition, and leaves no one disappointed.

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Entry Fee for Kiri Vihara

There is no entry fee to the stupa. Due to the stupa's extreme religious significance, the government doesn't want to commercialize it. Tourists are always welcome here.

History of Kiri Vihara

The stupa was built by one of the queens of King Parakramabahu, named Subhadra, in the 11th century AD. The original name of the stupa was Rupavathi Chaitya. It was later changed to Kiri Vihara, which means white stupa.

Tips while Visiting Kiri Vihara

Some tips while visiting Kiri Vihara are:
  • Keep your shoulders and knees covered
  • Shoes are not allowed on the site, hence, try to wear socks
  • Do not click photos with your back facing the statues of Lord Buddha

Best Time to Visit Kiri Vihara

The months from May to September are ideal for a visit to this stupa because these are dry months. The best time to visit Kataragama is during Vesak celebration in May or during Esala Festival between July and August.

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