Polonnaruwa is an ancient city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The city was the second capital of Sri Lanka, and it served as the capital for more than 200 years from the 11th to the 13th century AD. It remains one of the best-planned archaeological relic cities in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers.
Polonnaruwa is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, and it attracts thousands of tourists every year. The city is home to many ancient ruins, temples, and other structures that showcase the rich history and culture of Sri Lanka. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
History of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was founded in the 10th century AD, and it was initially a small settlement. However, it became an important city in the 11th century AD when King Vijayabahu I made it the capital of Sri Lanka. The city grew in size and importance under the reign of King Parakramabahu I, who ruled from 1153 to 1186 AD. During his reign, Polonnaruwa became a center of economic, cultural, and religious activities. Many important structures were built during this time, including the Royal Palace, the Audience Hall, and the Lankatilaka Temple.
The city declined in the 13th century AD, and it was eventually abandoned. The ruins of Polonnaruwa were rediscovered in the 19th century, and since then, efforts have been made to preserve and restore the ancient structures.
Top Attractions in Polonnaruwa
The Royal Palace: The Royal Palace is one of the most important structures in Polonnaruwa. It was built by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century AD and served as the residence of the king. The palace was a massive structure with multiple stories and many rooms. Today, only the foundation of the palace remains, but it still gives a glimpse of the grandeur of the ancient structure.
The Audience Hall
The Audience Hall is another important structure in Polonnaruwa. It was built by King Parakramabahu I and was used for royal ceremonies and meetings. The hall has a unique design with 54 pillars arranged in a square shape. The pillars are adorned with carvings of lions, elephants, and other animals.
The Lankatilaka Temple
The Lankatilaka Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Polonnaruwa. It was built by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century AD and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient Sinhalese temple architecture. The temple has a massive image house with a statue of the Buddha and several other smaller shrines.
The Gal Vihara
The Gal Vihara is a group of four Buddhist statues carved out of a single granite rock. The statues were built by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century AD and are considered some of the finest examples of ancient Sinhalese stone carving. The statues include a standing Buddha, a reclining Buddha, and two other statues of the Buddha.
The Parakrama Samudra
The Parakrama Samudra is a massive man-made reservoir located near Polonnaruwa. It was built by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century AD and is one of the largest ancient reservoirs in Sri Lanka. The reservoir covers an area of over 2500 hectares and is still used for irrigation today.
Polonnaruwa is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and archaeology. The city has many important ancient structures and ruins that showcase the rich history and culture of Sri Lanka. In 1982, the scenic beauty of Pollonnaruwa served as the background for filming scenes in the music video ‘Save a Prayer’ by Duran Duran.
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