Isurumuniya, standing just next to the Tissa Lake, beautifully combines spirituality with art. It is renowned for its stone carvings of which the most famous one is the “Isurumuniya Lovers”. The other carvings are of horseman, bathing elephants and the royal family. The temple was built by King Devanampiyatissa, who, during his reign, ordained 500 children to a life of priesthood and dedicated the temple as a monastic complex to house them all.
The most popular tale about the lovers carving here is that it depicts Prince Saliya, the son of the great King Dutugamunu, and his lower caste mistress Asokamala. In the name of love, the Prince gave up the right to be King and married Asokamala. Myth also has it that this temple and its pond were used by the King to perform ceremonies to the gods of rain.