Polonnaruwa Ancient City

Things to do in Polonnaruwa

* Gal Vihara

* Rankoth Vehera

* Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu

* Nissankamalla Palace

* Medirigiriya Vatadage

* Pothgul Viharaya

* Minneriya National Park

For a glimpse of medieval Sri Lankan architecture and craftsmanship, no better example exists than the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a World Heritage site. Towards the end of the first millennia, the decline of Anuradhapura - the earliest Royal capital of Sri Lanka - as a result of invading Chola armies from across the waters in India, led to the shifting of the capital to Polonnaruwa. From here, great Kings ruled the central plains and built magnificent palaces, monasteries and stupas.

The Palace of King Parakramabahu, easily the most prolific and gifted builder of the era, demonstrates ingenious design and construction for the time. Once standing seven stories tall, it is supported by massive walls and conceals an intricate drainage system. Nearby, a bathing pool known as the Kumara Pokuna was reserved for the use of Royals. Between these two structures, the Royal Audience Hall lies atop a foundation of a friese of elephants with it's entrance guarded by lions sculpted in rock.

The Vatadage, which lies within the Sacred Quadrangle, is an elevated circular relic house accessible from four sides and up a flight of steps which feature a statue of the Buddha in front of each flight. The Thuparama, is a well preserved example of a gedige or vaulted shrine, which once held three statues of the Buddha. The Lankatilaka Shrine, is another excellent example of a vaulted shrine and contains a 17-foot statue of the Buddha within its high walls.

Perhaps the most popular site within the ancient city and a must see place in Polonnaruwa is the Gal Vihara. A magnificent example of skilled craftsmanship, here lie four images of the Buddha, carved into solid rock. The first, is the impressive 23-foot standing Buddha, followed by a 46-foot reclining Buddha. The third is another standing figure with the pose and expression depicting supreme compassion. The fourth image is a seated Buddha, framed within an ornate arch. Also, the Rankot Vehera and Kiri Vehera are two impressive stupas which should be visited when in Polonnaruwa.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa, lies on the shores of the Parakrama Sumudraya, or Sea of Parakrama. A colossal man made lake named after it's builder, King Parakramabahu, it bears testament to the engineering prowess of the time. Named after its builder, King Parakramabahu, it was built to feed the thousands of acres of rice paddies that surrounded the region. As an ode to this feat, a statue of the great King can be found on the southern side of the the lake.

A list of attractions and some of the best things to do in Polonnaruwa;

The stone temple or Gal viharaya is one of the best places to visit in PolonnaruwaRankoth vehera is the largest stupa in Polonnaruwa and must visit placeVatadage is an iconic and most popular tourist attraction in PolonnaruwaRoyal palace of King Parakramabahu is one of the best things to do in PolonnaruwaAlahana Pirivena is a famous ancient pirivena in PolonnaruwaRoyal palace of King nissankamulla is the second palce in Polonnaruwa and one of the best places to visitMedirigiriya vatadage is NOrth of Polonnaruwa and well preserved monumentMinneriya National Park is closer to Polonnaruwa and one of the wildlife attractions nearby.

Best time to visit Polonnaruwa is from February to October 

Distance and travel times from Polonnaruwa to some key cities; 

Distance from Polonnaruwa to Anuradhapura is about 110 km and travel time is 2 to 2.5 hours

Distance from Polonnaruwa to Kandy is about 135 km and travel time is 3 to 3.5 hours

Distance from Polonnaruwa to Colombo is about 226 km and travel time is 5.5 to 6 hours.

For any other location you can use the distance calculator on the side bar.

Written by Jonathan Roelofsz for TLC.lk

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