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800 years ago in the medieval times, Kings of Sr Lanka ruled the country from Polonnaruwa. During the Polonnaruwa era Sri Lanka built a lot of foreign trade arrangements, and made the country self-sufficient. However Polonnaruwa was not able to hold up as Anuradhapura, but produced some of the greatest rulers who added many important additions to the country.

Places to stay, where to eat and things to go in Polonnaruwa

Sacred in Polonnaruwa

Buddhism in Sri Lanka suffered due to the destruction made by Chola invaders Rajaraja and his son Rajendra in the 11th-century. It was said that the country failed fulfil the necessity of five ordained bhikkhus required for Upasampada ceremonies. King Vijayabahu I had to seek help from King Anawrahta in Burma to re-established Buddhism in the island. Following Vijayabahu, Parakramabahu and Nissanka Malla made some valuable contributions to preserve Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

A collection of four amazing Buddha statues carved out of a long slab of granite in the 12th-century.

Once an amazing Dravidian style image house providing shelter for a 41 feet standing Buddha statue, Lankathilaka Image House was built in the 12th-century by ancient King Parakramabahu

A uniquely shaped stupa built in the 12th century by Queen Rupawathi one of King Parakramabahu |’s consorts.

Originally known as the Rupavathi Stupa, and built by Queen Subadra, a consort of King Parakramabahu I, Kiri Vehera is the second largest stupa in Polonnaruwa.

An ancient monastic complex with a red-brick stupa, alms hall, hospital and image houses.

Built in the 10th-century by Chola invaders of Sri Lanka, Naipena Vehera is a Dravidian style shrine dedicated to God Vishnu built in the 10th-century

An ancient library and a monastic complex built in the 12th century under the reign of King Parakramabahu I.

Built by King Nissanka Malla, the Rankoth Vehera is the largest Dagoba in polonnaruwa and the fourth largest in Sri Lanka.

An image house built in the 12th-century by King Parakramabahu I, the Thivanka Pilimage gots its name for the thrice bent Buddha statue it houses.

Surrounded by a latticed stone fence, with octagonal stone pillars carrying its roof, the Medirigiriya Vatadage was built to provide shelter to the stupa and the Buddha statues placed inside.

Built during the Reign of King Kavan Tissa by his sister Princess Somawhathi and her husband Prince Abhaya, the Somawathiya Stupa enshrines the right canine tooth Relic of Buddha.

Sacred Quadrangle of Polonnaruwa

The raised-up ground with retaining walls on the four sides, this was once the place where the sacred tooth relic of Buddha was kept.

Dalada Maluwa is a raised ground with retaining walls built by King Vijayabahu I, where many ancient Buddhist attractions were built.

Also known as the stone book, Gal Potha is a massive rock inscription built in the times of King Nisshanka Malla in the 12th-century.

Located in the “Dalada Maluwa”, the Polonnaruwa Vatadage was once providing shelter and protection for the sacred tooth relic or the alms bowl of Gautama Buddha.

An amazing “Pirith Mandapaya” built in the 12th-century by King Nishanka Malla.

A monument said to have been built in 60 hours hence it got its name “Hatadage” to house the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Alms bowl of Gautama Buddha under the reign of King Nisanka Malla.

A seven storied square shaped structure with diminishing levels, the Sathmahal Prasadaya is believed to be an ancient stupa.

Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Ruins of the iconic seven storied palace of King Parakramabahu, his council chamber, King Vijayabahu I’s palace, royal bath, and many other medieval attractions speaking for the glory of Polonnaruwa.

Remains of 1.6 meter thick walls and the foundations of the seven storied palace used by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th-century.

A raised-up chamber with amazing carvings and rock pillars, this was used in the 12th century by King Parakramabahu I to conduct meetings with his ministers.

A dravidian style shrine built by a Chola invader named Rajaraja I, Shiva Devalaya is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.

A hindu shrine dating back to the 13th century built with closely fitted rock slabs.

King Parakramabahu I was regarded as one of the greatest rulers of Sri Lanka for having unified the island, developing trade relationships with China and the Middle East, reforming Buddhist practises and invasions in Myanmar. This iconic statue demonstrates his strength, majesty, dignity.

A massive water reservoir built in the 12th-century by King Parakramabahu I, the Parakrama Samudraya fulfils water requirements of 18000 acres of Paddy fields.

An amazing museum dedicated to the ancient kingdom Polonnaruwa.

An ancient lotus shaped bath pond with eight petals and five diminishing rings built in the 12th-century for the user of Buddhist monks.

Elephants in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa and its surroundings are home for many wild elephants in Sri Lanka. Sometimes these giants reach main roads. With its water reservations, and the green grass shooting up on their shores elephants gather to feast in larger numbers in the national parks of Polonnaruwa.

Less busy afternoon safaris at Kaudulla promises seeing Sri Lanka’s magnificent wild elephants.

Bordering the Parakrama Samudraya, Angammedilla national park is among the best parks to see wild elephants.

A national park in Sri Lanka where hundreds of elephants gather around during the dry seasons.