Polonnaruwa, located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, is an ancient city that served as the capital of the country from the 11th to the 13th centuries. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, known for its well-preserved ruins and historical significance. In this blog post, we will explore the highlights of Polonnaruwa, its specialties, how to reach it, and more.
History and Culture of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was founded by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century as a city fortress to protect the region from invasions by South Indian Chola dynasty. However, it wasn’t until the reign of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) that Polonnaruwa became the thriving economic and cultural center of Sri Lanka. During his reign, the city was transformed into a magnificent architectural masterpiece with grand palaces, temples, monasteries, and water reservoirs. The city reached its peak under his rule and became one of the most significant political and economic centers of the time.
Specialties of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa is famous for its ancient ruins, including the Royal Palace, Quadrangle, Rankoth Vehera, Vatadage, Gal Vihara, and Thuparama. The Royal Palace was once a massive structure that consisted of seven stories and was the residence of the King. The Quadrangle is a complex of buildings that includes the Council Chamber, Lotus Bath, and the Audience Hall. The Rankoth Vehera is a stupa that stands 55 meters tall and is one of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka. The Vatadage is a circular shrine that housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The Gal Vihara is a set of four colossal Buddha statues carved out of a single granite boulder, and the Thuparama is a small dagoba that enshrines the collarbone of the Buddha.
Apart from the historical ruins, Polonnaruwa is also known for its natural beauty and wildlife. The Minneriya National Park, located just a few kilometers away, is home to a large population of wild elephants, making it an excellent place for wildlife enthusiasts.
How to Reach Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa is located about 215 km away from Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The best way to reach Polonnaruwa is by road. There are several buses and trains that connect Colombo to Polonnaruwa. The journey takes around 4-5 hours by road. Visitors can also hire taxis or private cars to reach Polonnaruwa from Colombo.
Polonnaruwa is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and architecture. The city is a testament to the grandeur of ancient Sri Lanka and the skills and craftsmanship of its people. The well-preserved ruins of Polonnaruwa offer a glimpse into the past and provide a unique experience for travelers. The city’s natural beauty and wildlife only add to its charm, making it a perfect place for a memorable vacation.