second medieval capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura was ruined, is the
best preserved town of the country. It has ancient dagobas, nice parks,
moonstones, colossal structures and elegant statues. Polonnaruwa of today
remains among the best planned archaeological sites in the country. It
testimonies the creativity of the first rulers of the island. The town has
been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Treasures of Polonnaruwa
Sea of Parakrama is the dominating structure in the town. It is a massive
12th century man-made reservoir, so vast that it is impossible to view the
other bank of the tank while standing on one. Few visitworthy sites of
Polonnaruwa are King's Council Chamber, Lanka Thilaka Viharaya, Gal Viharaya
(Rock Temple) and Lotus Bath. Idol of Parakrambahu, one of the great kings
of Polonnaruwa is an impressive structure. The town also hosts Brahmanic
structures built by the Cholas. Monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-town
made by King Parakrambahu I bathe the visitors in the glory of the ancient
times. Demala Mahaseya is the largest but unfinished stupa in Polonnaruwa.
Lotus Bath are seven ponds in the form of blossoming lotus. Rankot Vehera is
the largest finished dagoba.
Arugam Bay is located 3km off the fishing hamlet of Pottuvil. The site
is known for long beach stretches and a wide lagoon where numerous bird
species live. It was a popular surfer's destination before deteriorating law
and order made the place unsafe for traveling.
Gal Oya National Park
Taken shape in 1954, Gal Oya National Park is 260 sq km of scrub and open
countryside around an artificial reservoir. Vegetaion in the park comprises
both evergreen jungles and grasslands. The reservoir has been named
Senanayake Samudra (Senanayake Sea), after first post-independence prime
minister of Sri Lanka. About 30 species of beasts are found here including
leopard, sloth bear, elephant, wild boar, water buffalo, various species of
deer, common langur and endemic toque macaque. About 150 species of birds
also reside in this park.
Lahugala National Park
Lahugala has been declared a national park with the aim of providing a safe
corridor to the elephants moving between Yala and Gal Oya national parks.
Particularly in the dry season the tiny park has number of elephants who
come there attracted by the abundance of reservoirs and grazing ground.
Polonnaruwa was established as the capital of Sri Lanka in 11th century AD
replacing Anuradhapura. Continuous invasions from South India had forced the
kings of Sri Lanka to do so. Polonnaruwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka
from 11 AD to 13 AD. Prominent monarchs of this period are King Vijayabahu
I, King Maha Parakramabau I and King Nissankamalla.
Distance & Directions from Other Towns