Nissanka Latha Mandapaya is a unique structure in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka. A màndapa is a pillared structure that is open on all sides and protects the person inside from the sun with a roof. Built by King Nissanka Malla (1187-1196) and named after him, it is located near the western entrance of the Dalada Maluva, the area that contains the oldest and most sacred monuments in the city. A nearby stone inscription identifies this as the building used by Nissanka Malla to listen to pirith (chanting of Buddhist scriptures).
The structure is an elevated stone platform with a number of stone columns and surrounded by a low stone wall. These stone columns are the unique feature of the Nissanka Latha Manadapaya since they are carved in a manner that is found nowhere else in the country. The eight granite columns are arranged in two rows, with four in each row. Presumably used to support a roof, each of them is approximately 8 feet 4 inches (2.54 m) in height. In each of these columns, the crown is carved in the shape of a blossoming lotus bud. The rest of the column is elaborately carved to resemble the stem of the flower.
At the center of the platform, flanked by the stone columns, appears a small stupa. This is also made from stone, but the top part of it has been destroyed. Its base is decorated with a carved design. The platform is surrounded by a stone railing. The structure is entered through a single stone doorway. In contrast to the elaborately carved stone pillars, these have a non-decorated and plain finish.
Sacred square, Ancient city, Polonnaruwa