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Medieval Capital of Polonnaruwa

In the 12th c. AD, the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa was one of the great urban centres in South Asia. Toady, the well preserved ruins give you the chance to experience the grandeur of theis period and marvel at the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen.

Located 142km from Colombo, Polonnaruwa was the island’s second ancient capital. Many of the existing ruins owe their construction to Parakramabahu the Great, the last in a sequence of warrior-kings, who developed the city on a lavish scale. He is also created with the massive artificial lake that lies to the west of the city. The Sea of Parakrama. 

At the heart of the ancient city are the remains of the Royal Place 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 pota ( stone book) – a 9 m – 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 splendour 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 1980’s pop group Duran Duran were obviously impressed, featuring Polonnaruwa in their music video, Save a Prayer.

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