One of the more unique structures of the entire kingdom, the Polonnaruwa Vatadage has a long and illustrious history. Considered to be the only structure of its kind in the whole of Sri Lanka, this complex is believed to be the place in which the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha was housed, following the shift in the capital from Anuradhapura in the 11th century. There are many chronicles that talk of its origins, however, none of them can be confirmed to be truly accurate. The ‘Culavamsa’ dictates that the structure was built by King Parakramabahu to house the Sacred Tooth Relic, however, other texts such as the ‘Rajavaliya’ and the ‘ Poojavaliya’ claim that it was built by King Nissanka Malla, and was used as the depository for the alms bowl used by Lord Buddha. Regardless of its origins, the structure is a fine example of Polonnaruwa craftsmanship.
The present state of the complex no longer has its original wooden dome that protected the stupa, but still possesses the large pillars that once supported the roof. Moreover, the four entrances of the complex display some exemplary sculptures of the Lord Buddha in the seated position, along with other unique features that showcase some of the finest artistry in the whole kingdom.