The Pokuna or the baths found at Polonnaruwa are comparatively of modest dimensions.
The architecturally perfect Kumara pokuna found close to King Parakramabahu's palace, the pokuna found near the rest house and believed to be that of King Nissanka malla, the austere baths of the Alahana pirivena are some examples.
Yet a jewel of the pokuna architecture lies hidden along the lonely road to the northern city, well away from the bus loads of pilgrims and tourists that crowd Polonnaruwa’s more famous quadrangle packed with ruins from different dynasties differing in architecture and style.
The Nelum pokuna or the Lotus bath is a small stone bath of completely unique design, built in tiers of eight petalled lotuses in descending form.
The fine cut granite is in excellent formation and an absolute delight to the modern day tourist. The atmosphere of garden-like surroundings with its ancient flowering trees enhance its magnificence.
The chronicle speaks of a lotus bath among many ponds constructed by Parakramabahu the Great. It is believed to be the bath provided by the King for the monks belonging to the Jetavana Vihara.
The Archaeological Commissioner describing this granite marvel in his annual Report for 1990 says that the artistic conception of the stone bath is worthy of all praise.
He requests the reader to imagine a gigantic lotus flower of granite in full bloom 24 ft. 9 in. diameter, with five concentric laminae of eight petals, gradually diminishing to a stamen 5 ft. 4 in. across.
Then decide to reverse nature’s order and instead of the convex shape depress the petal rings into concavity 4ft. 6 in. depth and we have the granite lotus bath as it exits in all its shapeliness to this day.
Most tourist miss this site. But if you are lucky to visit it on a quiet evening or early morning it is a spot of great romance which will beckon you every time you visit Polonnaruwa.
by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror, May 16, 2004