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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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