The Isurumuniya Viharaya is located near Tisa Wewa in Anuradhapura. There is a Viharaya attached to a cave, and above is a rock. A small stupa is established on it. Isurumuniya is renowned for its stone carvings, and the one is recognised as Isurumuniya Lovers is the most-admired and world-famous. The different carvings are of the Horseman, Elephant Pond and the Royal Family.
The Isurumuniya Viharaya was built through the regime of Devanampiya Tissa, who ruled the ancient capital Anuradhapura. The Temple was created as a spiritual complex to house recently orientated monks.
Some consider Isurumuni lovers are a representative of Hindu Gods Shiva and Parvati. However, according to Dr Paranawithana, it is thought that it’s a depiction of Prince Saliya, son of King Dutugemunu and Asokamala, a poor woman whom the prince preferred over the throne.
The Bathing Elephants are different stone carvings favoured by several, and they make an extraordinary impact as you enter the temple premises. But, the carvings differ in their reproduction. Hence it is assumed that two artists did the work with varied techniques at various ages.
The Man and the Horse is slightly ambiguous, and a man seated next to a horse is carved into the rock face over the pond. The man sits in a “King position”. His left arm extends vertically under where the hand is placed palm downwards. His right arm is resting on his right leg, bent at the knee.

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The Isurumuniya Lovers

Nestled north of Isurumuniya Viharaya lies the enchanting Ranmasu Uyana, also known as the Royal Pleasure Garden. According to local folklore, in this very garden, Prince Saliya, the son of King Dutugemunu, encountered his future bride, Asokamala, marking the beginning of a remarkable love story.

Among the numerous stone carvings at Isurumuniya, the most celebrated is the "Isurumuniya Lovers" carving. This Gupta-style carving from the 6th century depicts a woman seated on a man's lap, with the woman gently lifting a finger—a gesture often interpreted as a manifestation of her coyness. However, the figures' identities remain a mystery, giving rise to various interpretations and local legends.

Prince Saliya and Asokamala

One prevalent belief is that the "Isurumuniya Lovers" carving represents Prince Saliya and Asokamala, the maiden of low caste whom he loved. According to historical accounts, Prince Saliya went against societal norms and relinquished his royal status for the sake of his love. This narrative adds an element of sacrifice and devotion to the carving, elevating its significance and inspiring generations with tales of love transcending barriers.

The Hindu Connection

In contrast to the tale of Prince Saliya, another legend proposes that the "Isurumuniya Lovers" carving depicts the divine love between the Hindu god Shiva and goddess Parvati. This interpretation draws upon the influence of Hindu mythology in the region and adds a mystical layer to the carving's symbolism. It further accentuates the spiritual and cultural diversity within Isurumuniya Viharaya's walls.

Other Rock Carvings at Isurumuniya

As visitors approach the dramatic entrance of Isurumuniya, their attention is captivated by a rock rising out of a pond, flanked by carvings of bathing elephants. These intricately carved elephants are reminiscent of a bygone era, evoking a sense of awe and wonder.

Another remarkable carving found at Isurumuniya portrays a man seated in a regal position, with a horse's head positioned behind him. Scholars believe this figure represents Parjanya, the God of rain, while the elephants below symbolize rain clouds. This connection between the rock carvings and rituals dedicated to the God of rain highlights the cultural and religious significance of Isurumuniya Viharaya throughout history.

The Enchanting Experience

Isurumuniya Viharaya, with its historical charm and beautiful stone carvings, offers visitors a unique and enchanting experience. Stepping into this serene setting allows one to immerse themselves in an ancient love story that has withstood the test of time. Tourslanka, a renowned tour guide, offers expertly guided explorations of Isurumuniya Viharaya, bringing to life the legends and intricacies hidden within its sacred walls.


The Isurumuniya Viharaya is a testament to Sri Lanka's ancient history and cultural richness. Its stone carvings, especially the famed "Isurumuniya Lovers," have sparked countless legends and interpretations. Whether the tale of Prince Saliya and Asokamala or the divine connection to Hindu mythology, Isurumuniya Viharaya captivates visitors with its profound sense of romance and spiritual significance. Embark on a journey with Tourslanka to unlock the secrets of this remarkable temple and create memories that will endure a lifetime.


1. Can I visit Isurumuniya Viharaya independently? Certainly! Isurumuniya Viharaya welcomes individual visitors who wish to explore its beauty and historical significance.

2. Are there any restrictions when visiting Isurumuniya Viharaya? While there are no specific restrictions, it is advisable to dress modestly and respect the site's sacredness during your visit.

3. Are there any other attractions nearby worth visiting? Yes, near Isurumuniya Viharaya, you'll find other fascinating sites, such as Vessagiri Vihara and the Tisa Wewa.

4. Can I take photographs inside Isurumuniya Viharaya? Photography is generally allowed, but checking with the authorities on any specific restrictions or guidelines is advisable.

5. How long does it take to explore Isurumuniya Viharaya? The duration of your visit can vary depending on your interest and exploration. It is recommended to allocate an hour to appreciate the temple and its surroundings fully.



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