The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is one of Sri Lanka’s cultural treasures, located in the central part of the country along with other commonly visited cities like Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Dambulla. For over three centuries, Polonnaruwa was a royal capital and thriving commercial centre before being abandoned in the early 13th century. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa became a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1982.

Among its many attractions, the Parakrama Samudra (sea) is a landmark. Created by King Parakramabahu, it is the largest man-made rainwater reservoir in the country, spanning an area of 2,500 ha and remains a primary source of water for agriculture in the district.

South of this vast expanse of water is the standing statue of its creator carved out of rock with the king holding a stack of manuscripts written on ola leaves. There are many other effigies in the city among the fascinating ruins, including a 16m carving of Buddha, all of which can be viewed. There are also some ancient Hindu temples in the ruined city.

The city of Polonnaruwa was named the capital of Sri Lanka by its first king, Vijayabahu I who is popular for defeating the Chola invaders in the year 1070. Moving the country’s capital to Polonnaruwa from Anuradhapura was considered to be a successful strategic move.

However it is believed that the real hero of Polonnaruwa was king Parakramabahu I, who ruled through the golden age of Polonnaruwa. Under his leadership the country flourished as many development took place under his leadership. Using far superior technology to that which was present in Anuradhapura, king Parakramabahu I was able create irrigation systems that ensured every bit of rain water was distributed efficiently without wastage. The Parakrama Sea for example is considered to be one of the greatest of these development projects. It ensured that the crops flourished during the dry season and also served as a moat for protection against invaders.

Other Attractions

Nuwara Eliya
Yala National Park
Rock Temple of Dambulla