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Polonnaruwa Ancient City Tour Excursion, Sri Lanka

Region: ancient-cities | Location: Polonnaruwa
Sri Lanka Polonnaruwa Ancient City Tour
 Other regions: capital-colombo | east-coast | hill-country | south-coast | west-coast
In the 12th century AD, the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa was one of the great urban centres in South Asia. Today, the well preserved ruins give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen. Its beauty was also used as a backdrop to filmed scenes for the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982.

Polonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s second ancient capital. Many of the existing ruins owe their construction to Parakrama Bahu the Great, the last in sequence of warrior-kings, who developed the city on a lavish scale. The city in its day was fortified with three concentric walls, beautified with parks and gardens and sanctified by many a shrine and sacred place leaving us today with really memorable sights. The majestic King's Council chamber, the rock cut Lotus Bath, the statue of Parakrama Bahu (one of the great kings of Sri Lanka), the rock-cut sculptures of Gal Vihare (Temple) and the Sea of Parakrama (a vast man-made reservoir) are some of the memorable sights to be seen.

History

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders (southern India invaders) in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader.

The real Polonnaruwa Hero of the history books is actually Vijayabahu I’s grandson, Parakramabahu I. It was his reign that is considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa, when trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the King. He was adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted, and each be used toward the development of the land; hence, irrigation systems far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during Parakramabahu's reign, systems which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. The greatest of these systems, of course is the Parakrama Samudraya or the Sea of Parakrama, a tank so vast that it is often mistaken for the ocean.

Gal Vihara

This consists of four separate images of Buddha carved in stone. The standing Budda is 7m tall and is said to be one of the finest although to many the great reclining image of Budda some 14m long is the most impressive.
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Quadrangle

A compact group of fascinating ruins in a raised-up area compounded by a wall comprising of Vatadage, Thuparama and Hatadage. Vatadage (a circular relic house flanked by Budda images and encircled by columns) which has a moonstone reckoned to be the finest in Polonnaruwa. The Thuparama is a gedige (ancient Sinhalese architectural style, hollow temple with extremely thick walls and a corbelled roof). This is the smallest gedige in Polonnaruwa but also one of the best and the only one with its roof intact. The Hatadage is a tooth chamber said to have been built in 60 days.

Royal Palace Grouping

This is comprised of three main ruins: Royal Palace, Audience Hall and Bathing Pool. The Royal Palace was a magnificent structure measuring 31m by 13m and is said to have had seven storeys. The Audience Hall is notable for the frieze of elephants around its base, each elephant in a different position. The Bathing Pool still has one of its crocodile-month spouts remaining.

Many more . .

Polonnaruwa contains many sites of ruins, far too to mention here. We will take you to most of the sites. If there are any in particular you wish to visit please be sure to inform us during the tour.

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