Ancient recitation house with a stone fence.
Nissanka Latha Mandapaya is one out of the many unique structures in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. It was built by King Nissankamalla in the 1100s and was named after him. This historical masterpiece is located in the area that contains the oldest and most sacred monuments in Polonnaruwa, near the western entrance of the Dalada Maluva.
A stone inscription reveals that this building was used by king as a recitation house for Buddhist chanting which is called pirith. This building is a perfect example to showcase how far Buddhism influenced the social life of ancient Sri Lankans. Archeologists also explain that the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya was used as the ‘King’s Court’.
A màndapa is an open structure with pillars and a roof for shelter. The Nissanka Latha Mandapaya consists of an elevated stone platform, several pillars and a low stone wall. There are two rows of granite columns with four in each which supports the roof. The crown of the columns resembles a blossoming lotus bud, and the rest is elaborately carved to resemble the stem of the flower. According to archaeologists the columns at the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya have a unique shape. It is curved in three places which is an uncommon feature of ancient architecture. Certain features of the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya have been destroyed during invasions of the Chola during the 14th century.
Nissanka Latha Mandapaya is considered as one of the best examples of the ancient architectural styles of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is worthwhile spending some quality time to explore the elements of this unique architectural masterpiece.