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Home > Discovery Top Attractions > Ancient Polonnaruwa

Ancient Polonnaruwa

Arugam BayPolonnaruwa , the second ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka, remained as Island's capital from 11c.AD to 13c AD. The medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, rose to fame after the decline of Anuradhapura, was its glory & one of the great urban centers in South Asia in the 12th century AD,

Today, the city is an UNESCO World heritage site as its ancient ruins remain in remarkably good nick and that give you a chance to experience the grandeur of this period & marvel at the artistry of the island's early craftsmen. The site is rich with full of archeological monuments ,ranging from Royal Palaces, Audience Halls, Royal Bathing, Stupas ,Image Houses, Monasteries along with their Monastic Hospitals, Chapter houses etc… And many of the existing ruins owe their construction to Parakramabahu the Great (12th c AD), the last in a sequence of warrior-kings, who developed the city on a lavish scale. He is also credited with the massive artificial lake that lies to the west of the city- The Sea of Parakrama.

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At the heart of the ancient city are the remains of the Royal Palace and Council Chamber. Nearby is the vatadage or relic house, a beautifully decorated circular structure with an uncanny resemblance to Stonehenge. Among the other sites are the Gal potha (stone book) - a 9m-long granite slab inscribed with the feats of a king – the Lankatilaka shrine and the supremely graceful Buddha statues at Gal Vihara, the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving. The site also hosts many distinctly South Indian-style Hindu temples.

Polonnaruwa's ancient splendor cannot fail to inspire. Set amongst gently undulating woodland, the monkeys, giant lizards and birdlife in abundance seem tamer than elsewhere in the island. Even 1980s pop group Duran Duran were obviously impressed, featuring Polonnaruwa in their music video, Save a Prayer.

Polonnaruwa's Gal Vihara or Rock Shrine

The remains of Polonnaruwa are so numerous that only a few highlights can be mentioned. One of the most striking of the many sites is Polonnaruwa's Gal Vihara or Rock Shrine, the reclining Lord Buddha is near another statue showing him seated in deep meditation, his throne adorned with lions and thunderbolts. A second seated Lord Buddha, surrounded by other deities including Brahma and Vishnu, is set within a cave cut into the rock face that still bears traces of the frescoes which once decorated the walls. The fourth Gal Vihara statue departs from the conventional poses by depicting the Lord Buddha as a seven-metre tall standing figure with arms crossed.

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