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The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa


Most commonly referred to as Sri Lanka’s second ancient capital, the city of Polonnaruwa is nevertheless a magnificently preserved city with rich archaeological monuments and natural beauty. Polonnaruwa, the second city listed in Sri Lanka’s long line of kingdoms, became the kingdom in 1070 AD after the fall of Anuradhapura Kingdom. Many Kings have ruled this ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa 800 years ago when it was a flourishing commercial and religious center. For three centuries it was the royal capital of both the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms.

Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka is considered one of the best-preserved historic cities in the world. The city remains one of the best planned Archeological sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers. Polonnaruwa, the main district in North Central Province, is located approximately 140km from Kandy. Kaduruwela area is the New Town, located 4km east of Polonnaruwa and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. The glories of that age can be found in the archeological treasures which give the delight to explore with hundreds of ancient structures, tombs and temples, statues and stupas, and ruins of ancient kingdoms. These archaeological sites are in a compact layout, within easy distance of each other, and tours are easily arranged either on foot or more popularly explored on a bicycle. With good accommodation and plenty of bikes for hire, the town itself makes a pleasant base for a day or two, fringed by a huge, beautiful tank with a relaxed ambiance.

The History of Pulathisipura

Polonnaruwa replaced Anuradhapura, which was plundered, made desolate, and laid hopelessly bare to the invading armies from South India. It all started in the late 10th century when the South Indian Chola dynasty had conquered Sri Lanka. The Cholas chose Polonnaruwa as their new capital and moved the capital from Anuradhapura. In 1070 though, the Chola dynasty was overtaken by the Sinhala King Vijayabahu I, which kept Polonnaruwa as his capital. It was during this period that Polonnaruwa reached its high glory. However, it is believed that the real hero of Polonnaruwa was King Parakramabahu I, the second king who ruled through the golden age of Polonnaruwa. Under his leadership, the country flourished as many developments took place under his leadership.

Three Kings dominate the chronicles of the city, reached a dazzling but pitifully brief zenith in the 12th century. The ruins of the ancient city stand on the east shore of a large artificial lake, the Topa Wewa Lake or Parakrama Samudraya, built by King Parakramabahu I. In the early 13th century the cities glory was fading and the capital moved to the western side of the island where Colombo is today. It marked the sad end of the era of beautiful Polonnaruwa as capital and gave historical importance to the city.

Major Attractions places in Polonnaruwa

In the ancient city Polonnaruwa, within a rectangle of city walls, stand palace buildings and clusters of dozens of dagobas, temples, and various other religious buildings. A scattering of other historic buildings can be found to the north of the main complex, outside the city walls. Having an idea about the things you are going to watch is much better. So, before you reach the ruins of the ancient city, you can visit the Archeological Museum as it serves as a nice introduction to what you are going to visit.

Here are some famous places you must visit in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa,

  • Parakrama Samudraya
  • Royal Palace and Council Chambers
  • Statue of King Parakramabahu
  • Royal Palace
  • Vatadage
  • Nissanka Latha Mandapaya
  • Ran Koth Vehera
  • Gal Viharaya
  • Lotus Bath
  • Gal Potha
  • Sathmahal Prasada
  • Sacred Quadrangle
  • Shiva Shrines

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