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Polonnaruwa Ancient City

icon-location-red Popular Ancient City In Sri Lanka

5.00/5 - (1 Votes)

Attractions Details

📌 Address

W2W2+94G, Sudarshanarama Puranagama Rd, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

7:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Varies

Find it on google maps

5.00/5 - (1 Votes)
expert
Krishan
Local tour guide
"When visiting Polonnaruwa Ancient City in Kandy, make sure to start your exploration early in the morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Don't forget to bring a good pair of walking shoes, as there is a lot of ground to cover while exploring the impressive ruins."

What is Polonnaruwa Ancient City?

Polonnaruwa Ancient City, a testament to Sri Lanka's enduring historical legacy, is a cultural treasure embedded deep within the heart of the island. This sprawling complex of ruins was once the thriving capital of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom, which stood as a beacon of civilization, religion, and art between the 11th to 13th centuries AD. Here, you'll find remains of royal palaces, majestic stupas, intricate carvings, and ancient temples that echo the grandeur of a bygone era. What's remarkable about Polonnaruwa is how it reflects the ingenuity of our ancestors: the intricate irrigation systems that still benefit agriculture today, or the spellbinding craft displayed in stone — it's a chronicle of our past, etched in serene landscapes that beckon the curious and the thoughtful alike.

History of Polonnaruwa Ancient City

Delve into the annals of time, and the Polonnaruwa Ancient City tells a compelling story. After the decline of Anuradhapura, its predecessor as the capital, due to invasions and disease, the kingdom moved to Polonnaruwa under the rule of King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century. One can still sense the air of prosperity that defined the subsequent era under King Parakramabahu I, a visionary who oversaw massive construction projects, including the expansive Parakrama Samudra tank, which astoundingly functions to this day.

The city's downfall commenced in the late 13th century, precipitated by invasions and a shift in trade routes. However, it was the mindful conservation of these archaeological treasures many years later that granted Polonnaruwa its well-deserved recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I often ponder on the stories these stones could tell if only they had a voice — invasions, royal intrigue, and a lineage of rulers whose wisdom still permeates through the ruins.

When planning your tours in Kandy don't forget to visit Polonnaruwa Ancient City

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Why is Polonnaruwa Ancient City Important?

Imagine a place where every stone, every pathway whispers tales of ancient grandeur — that's Polonnaruwa. Its importance is manifold, stitching together the cultural, historical, and architectural fabric of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa stands as an integral part of the Cultural Triangle, inspiring visitors with its representation of Buddhist thought and philosophy. It's a work of living history that showcases the pinnacle of medieval Sri Lankan architecture; be it in the celestial roundness of the stupas or the solemnity of the Buddha statues at Gal Vihara.

And let's not overlook its contemporary significance: the city is a crucible of learning for historians and archeologists, drawing students and scholars from across the globe who unravel the layers of Sri Lankan history. To us locals, these ruins are not just tourist destinations; they're touchstones of our heritage, keeping the essence of our ancient civilization alive and well.

Things to do & see at Polonnaruwa Ancient City

  • Prepare to lose yourself in an enchanting mix of spirituality, history, and nature. Start at the Archaeological Park—you'll wander through a network of sites that whisper of a majestic past. Don't miss the Royal Palace complex, believed to have housed seven stories in its heyday. Now, the imposing walls and structures speak to the greatness of King Parakramabahu I’s reign. Ever seen the Sacred Quadrangle? It's a compact cluster of remarkable ruins, unrivaled in their diversity and artistry.

  • For contemplation and awe, the Gal Vihara stands supreme with its four colossal Buddha statues carved from a single granite wall—the emotions captured in stone will leave you breathless. Have a soft spot for ancient feats of engineering? The Minneriya and Kaudulla tanks, although slightly off the primary site, are a testament to the mastery of irrigation that supported a kingdom and continues to nurture the land.

  • If you're keen on decoding the past, the Polonnaruwa Museum showcases a treasure trove of relics that offer insights into life during the city's zenith. Fancy a bit of nature? The surrounding area is not just about ruins. The forests and reservoirs provide a sanctuary for wildlife, where you might catch a glimpse of monkeys frolicking, birds in full-throated song, or, if you're lucky, elephants gently ambling in the distance.

  • Take a detour through the lush foliage to encounter the Lotus Pond, shaped like an open lotus flower—an emblem of serenity. And as the day wanes, find a quiet spot near the Parakrama Samudra to watch the sun setting, painting a vivid canvas over water and ruins alike. Have you ever experienced such tranquil immersion into the past? Polonnaruwa is more than a destination—it's a journey through time.

Aside from these attractions, Polonnaruwa Ancient City offers visitors the chance to experience the natural beauty of Sri Lanka. The site is surrounded by lush greenery and scenic landscapes, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and photographers.

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Polonnaruwa Ancient City is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, culture seekers, and anyone interested in exploring the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. With its magnificent ruins, serene surroundings, and captivating history, a visit to Polonnaruwa Ancient City is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Frequently asked questions

What is Polonnaruwa Ancient City, and where is it located in Sri Lanka?

Polonnaruwa Ancient City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its well-preserved archaeological and historical treasures from the Polonnaruwa Kingdom, which thrived from the 11th to the 13th century.

What are the main attractions within Polonnaruwa Ancient City?

The city is home to numerous impressive structures, including the Royal Palace, the Quadrangle (Dalada Maluwa), the Gal Vihara (rock temple with Buddha statues), Lankathilaka Temple, and the Sacred Quadrangle. These architectural marvels provide insights into the grandeur of the ancient kingdom.

How long does it take to explore Polonnaruwa Ancient City?

To fully explore Polonnaruwa Ancient City and its major attractions, it typically takes around half a day to a full day, depending on your interest in history and architecture. Guided tours are available for a more in-depth experience

Are there any entrance fees to visit Polonnaruwa Ancient City?

Yes, there is an entrance fee for visiting Polonnaruwa Ancient City, and the fee may vary for locals and foreigners. It is advisable to check the current fees and regulations before planning your visit.

Is it possible to rent bicycles or hire a guide at Polonnaruwa Ancient City?

Yes, visitors have the option to rent bicycles, which is a popular way to explore the vast archaeological site. Additionally, local guides are available for hire, and they can provide valuable historical insights and context during your visit.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

W2W2+94G, Sudarshanarama Puranagama Rd, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

7:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Varies

Find it on google maps