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Location: North Central Province
Area: 3,293 km²
Nearest Railhead: Polonnaruwa - Railway Station
Nearest Airport: Bandaranaike International Airport
How to reach: It takes five to six-hour drive from Colombo to Polonnaruwa, while from Kandy you can reach in three-four hours.
Famous for: Ancient constructions, Parakrama Samudra
Months open: All year
Best time to visit: Late May to Early October
Polonnaruwa is an ancient town of Sri Lanka located 143 km from Kandy. The town is in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. If we are looking for the ancient places on the island where the heritage and culture of the country is reflected, then Polonnaruwa is the place. Polonnaruwa is the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka. About 800 years ago it was considered as the flourishing place and also as the religious center of the island. Polonnaruwa is still the place where you can find the cultural and traditional essence of Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa was established by King Vijay Bahu I in 11th century. The town was famous for it agriculture economy and water planning systems. It is said that not a single drop of water was wasted under the reign of the king and was managed excellently. The temples and religious buildings of the place are the proof of the Chola and Sinhalese dynasty over the place for over three centuries
What's Here: Parakrama Samudra, Toque Macaques, Monkeys, Buddha Statues Gal Vihara
Places to see
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The monumental ruins of the town are must see destinations during your trip. The Royal Palace The Royal Palace is on the grounds of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. It was built by Parakramabahu I. The palace took around more than seven years to be completely constructed. It is said that the palace was seven story large. Presently, it shows the remains of the palace. The palace had many rooms. It was destroyed by invaders from south India. The Sacred Quadrangle The Sacred Quadrangle is an area where you can find the ancient ruins bounded within the walls. The Quadrangle is an archaeological treasure for people who love history. It can be considered as the best place where you can find such preserved ancient ruins. Lankatlika The Lankatlika in Polonnaruwa houses the shrine of Buddha. The aisle which appears like a cathedral lead to the shrine of Buddha which now does not have the head. The statue is more than 50 ft tall. It shows the beautiful architecture of the ancient times. Shiva Devale There are two temples of Shiva Devale in Polonnaruwa. Shiva Devale 1 is a Hindu temple which dates back to the 13th century. The Indian influence can directly be observed in the stonework. While Shiva Devale 2 is a Hindu temple which is completely made out of stone. There is also Nandi which was the bull of Lord Shiva in front of the temple. Rankot Vihara The Rankot Vihara was built by the king Nissanka Malla. The stupa or dagoba of Ranot Vihara is the largest in Polonnaruwa and it is the fourth largest in Sri Lanka. It is 54 m tall. The Anuradhapura architecture can clearly be seen in the construction of the stupa. Kiri Vehera Kiri Vehera means milk white which resembles the exterior of the dagoba which is gleaming white. It was built by the Queen of King Oarakramabahu, Queen Subhadra and was originally known as Rupavati Chetiya. It has been preserved since 700 years and is the best preserved dagoba in Polonnaruwa. The Audience Hall The audience hall is the place where the king’s hearing used to take place. The place is beautifully carved with series of elephants on both side of its walls. Also, there are lions carved at the top of the steps. Polonnaruwa Vatadage The Vatadage is a circular relic house. Among the different vatadages in Sri Lanka, this one is considered as the most beautiful. It was built to protect the Tooth Relic of Buddha. It now surrounds the stupa of Buddha. All the four entrances lead to the central stupa. There are moonstones at each entrance and Buddha at the top of every staircase. Gal Vihara Gal Vihara is also known as the Rock Temple. You can find here different statues of Lord Buddha. The statues are made from granite rock. There are total four statues of Lord Buddha and each of them shows his different position. Other places to visit in Polonnaruwa are The Swimming Pool, Pabula Vehera, the Archaeological museum and many other ancient ruins.
How to reach Polonnaruwa?
There are many ways to reach Polonnaruwa. You can reach Polonnaruwa from Colombo as well as Kandy. There are many taxis which you can hire and ride to Polonnaruwa. It takes five to six-hour drive from Colombo to Polonnaruwa, while from Kandy you can reach in three-four hours. By rail: Polonnaruwa lies on the Colombo-Batticaloa line. You can get to Gal Oya station which is near Polonnaruwa from Colombo. By Bus: The Kaduruwela is the bus station of Polonnaruwa. You can catch a bus going to Batticaloa and get down here.
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