Friday, March 1, 2013


Situated in north-central Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa was the second capital city of Sri Lanka (after Anuradhapura) from 1070 when King Vijayabahu I expelled the Cholas from the island, until 1215 when the city was invaded by the Tamils. King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) and his successor King Nissamkamalla I (1187-1196) contributed to the development of the medieval walled city. King Parakramabahu's reign is considered to be the golden age of Polonnaruwa. Many structures and buildings were built during this period of time: palaces, shrines, monasteries, temples, gardens and an irrigation system with artificial lakes. The site contains also the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas between 993 and 1070. After its golden age Polonnaruwa fell into decline and the capital city was moved to Kurunegala at the end of the 13th century. The archaeological site is divided in five groups of monuments: the Rest House group with the remains of Nissankamalla's Palace complex, the Royal Citadel group with the remains of the Palace of Parakramabahu, the Southern group with the Potgul Vihara, the Quadrangle dominated by the Vatadage and the Northern Monuments comprising the Alahana Pirivena monastery, the Gal Vihara and the Lankatilaka shrine. 
Date of inscription: 1982

Photo Juergen Schreiber

King Nissankamalla's Council Chamber
Photo Roelof Munneke

One of the four doorway leading to the Vatadage, a circular relic house
Photo Juergen Schreiber

The Gal Vihara (Stone Shrine) contains four images of Buddha hewn out of a granite rock
Photo A. Felix J. Perera

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


The Bamiyan Valley is located in the region of Hazarajat, central Afghanistan, about 260 km west of Kabul, at an altitude of about 2,500 m. Bamiyan lies on the ancient Silk Road, at the crossroads between the East and West. From the 2nd century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the 9th century, Bamiyan was an important Buddhist monastic complex. The Valley contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles, sanctuaries, chapels and caves (some with frescoes), as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. The most famous landmarks of the site were the two giant standing Buddha statues carved into the sandstone cliff face of the Bamiyan Valley in the 6th-7th centuries by Buddhist monks. Measuring 38 and 53 meters in height, they were the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world. In March 2001, the two Buddha statues were intentionally dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban after the Taliban government declared that they were "idols".
Date of inscription: 2003 - Inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2003

Top : Bamiyan Valley
Bottom left: the 53m-high Statue of Buddha - Bottom right: the 35m-high Statue of Buddha
Photo House Samad Asefi

Bamiyan Valley - Smaller Buddha before its destruction
Photo Sattar Zade

Taller Buddha before its destruction
Photo Spach Photo Collection