Isurumuni Lovers and Other Stone Carvings at Isurumuniya Temple

Isurumuniya Temple Sri Lanka
Image: Sri Lanka Expeditions

The Isurumuniya Viharaya is situated close to Tisa Wewa in Anuradapuraya. There is a Viharaya connected to a cave and above is a cliff. A small stupa is built on it. Isurumuniya is famous for its stone carvings, and the one known as “Isurumuniya Lovers” is the most-admired and world famous. The other carvings are of the Horseman, Elephant Pond and the Royal Family.

The Isurumuniya Viharaya was constructed during the regime of Devanampiya Tissa who governed the ancient capital Anuradhapura. The temple was built as a monastic complex to house newly orientated monks. Connected to the Temple is a cave with a cliff above it.

Some believe Isurumuni lovers are a symbol of Hindu god Shiva and Parvati. But according to Dr Paranawithana it is believed that it’s a depiction of Prince Saliya, son of king Dutugemunu and Asokamala, a poor lass whom the prince favored over the throne.

Carvings at Isurumuniya Temple

The Bathing Elephants are another stone carving admired by many. They make a remarkable impact as you enter the temple premises. The carvings differ in its representation. Therefore it is believed that the work was done by two sculptors with varied techniques, at different times.

The Man and the Horse is somewhat more enigmatic. Engraved into the rock face above the pond is a man seated next to a horse. The man sits in a “King posture”. His left arm stretches vertically down where the hand is placed palm downwards. His right arm is resting on his right leg bent at the knee.

The Royal Family carving is carved on a Granite plate. There are five human figures. The human figure in the center is King Dutugemunu, who has a crown on his head and a “puna noola” around his chest. At his left are another two figures that are fanning him and the rest are believed to be his family.

Just beyond the temple, is the Tissawewa. It is said that the Isurumuniya Temple and the massive tank were built at the same time.

The Isurumuniya Temple is located only 1.5 hours away from Dambulla and our Dambulla hotels. Check dates for availability and book your stay today.