Polonnaruwa, (also known as Pulastipura in ancient times) is located in the North-central Province is an ancient city which was home to Sri Lanka’s second Kingdom. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the down fall of Anuradhapura in 993. Polonnaruwa city is also declared as a world heritage site and marked as a greatest historical and archeological site in Sri Lanka.
This ancient city was established by King Vijayabahu I who defeated the Chola invaders to reunite the country. However Polonnaruwa received it brightest era during the reign of King Parakramabahu I, where trade and agriculture was flourished under the patronage of the king. During his reign colossal buildings, spectacular parks, huge reservoirs and tanks were constructed. There are remains of all these marvelous construction currently.
There is a vast number of attractive places in and around of Polonnaruwa. Parakrama Samudra or ‘sea of Parakrama’ is one of the greatest manmade colossal reservoir lying over 5000 acres of land. This reservoir built by King Parakramabahu I connects with several tanks such as Topa wewa, Eramudu Wewa.
Another marvel in Polonnaruwa is the Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu. This was once a 7 storey building but now only 3 floors with 3-metre thick walls is remaining. A little further on is the handsome royal bath, Kumara Pokuna. Along with that is the amazing Audience hall with the delicate lion portals, pillars and the famous and incredible moonstone.
Another well-known Polonnaruwa monument is the rock carved statue of a man of noble disposition holding a stack of manuscripts. The archeologists haven’t come to an exact conclusion about this statue. However this 3.5-metre high statue is assumed to be king Parakramabahu the great.
There can be seen more ancient remains. Such as the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, Sathmahal Prasada, Vatadage, Thuparama Gedige, Gal pota (stone book), Hetadage, Pabalu vehera, Rankot vehera and many more. Kiri Vihara, just ahead of Lankathilaka built by Subhadra the queen of King Parakramabahu the great is the second largest stupa in Polonnaruwa today. It is an 80ft tall Dagoba which was originally called as Rupavati Dagoba.
Another mesmerizing monument is the lotus shaped Nelum Pokuna, located about 500 metres north of the Demala Maha seya. This pond is also built by king Parakramabahu I which was used by monks, is a design of 8 petaled Lotus Flowers.
A Gedige type roofless hollow named as Lankathilaka is another 12th century eye capturing emblematic structure also built by king Parakramabahu. Between the two 17m high great walls is a giant figure of Buddha which is now sadly a headless statue over 14m high.
The structural technique of the Polonnaruwa period is same as those of Anuradhapura; the difference is there was a greater use of lime mortar, which enabled the building of brick structures of dimensions that were never before attempted. However Polonnaruwa was abandoned in the 13th century is now a favourite travel destination among many heritage lovers around the world.