Things To Do In Polonnaruwa

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Polonnaruwa is the second kingdom of the Sri Lanka located in the North Central part of the country and around 220Km (4hours) away from the Colombo City. The first kingdom of Sri Lanka “Anuradhapura” lasted till the 11th century AD (1000 years ago) and shifted to the Polonnaruwa by the south Indian invaders named Emperor Raja Raja Chola.Several years back Sri Lankan kings regained the power after defeating the invaders. Sri Lanka was well flourished during the Polonnaruwa era.

Buddhist & Hindu monuments can still be seen in the Polonnaruwa kingdom. Ancient city of the Polonnaruwa is a world heritage site declared by the UNESCO in 1982. Polonnaruwa is one of the main tourist attractions of Sri Lanka, due to the Ancient monuments & ancient technology, Religion & Culture. Culture tours and Buddhist pilgrimage tours are significant in the Polonnaruwa archeological site.

Tourist ticket counter of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa is open for the public from the 7.00 am to 5.30 pm. Since there Buddhist temples & sacred monuments, your dress should be below the knees & should cover your shoulders. Best time to visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa is either morning or the evening to avoid the excess heat in the day time and to avoid the crowd. Cycling in the monument area of Polonnaruwa is a popular thing among the tourist.

01. Royal palace & audience hall of king Parakramabahu

Foundation and the walls of the 900 years old palace complex & audience hall (council chamber) belongs to the king Parakramabahu the great is still exist in the ancient city of the  Polonnaruwa. According to the greater chronicles of the Mahawamsa, the royal palace consists of seven stories. Audience hall mainly built using the granite slabs and pillars and decorated by the stone carvings.

02. Alahana piriwena complex

Alahana Piriwena is a well-planned Buddhist monastic university complex exists during the Polonnaruwa era in the mediaeval period. This Alahana piriwena monastic university complex consist of faculties, dwelling places with two stories with tiled roofs, combined bath room with toilets with pits, pools, Steam bath areas (Janthaghara) ,a complete hospital complex, shrine rooms,chapter house (Baddhaseema Prasadaya) ,Stupa & refectories. Alahana Piriwena was a contemporary university to the Cambridge university in United Kingdom.

03. Lankathilaka image house

Lanka Thilaka means the “Beauty spot of Sri Lanka”.This is the tallest ancient image house found in Sri Lanka.Inside the Lanka Thilaka, there had been a 13m height standing Buddha staue.but now it is only a Torso. Walls and the statues are made out of the brick and plaster applied and decorated with the stucco carvings.

Lankathilaka Buddha statue use by the Buddhist to perform three types of worshipping practice such as worshipping  feet (Pada wandana) ,Worshpping head (Sheersha wandana) and worshipping while circumambulating (Pradakshina wandana) .

04. Terrace of the tooth relic (Quadrangle)

Sacred tooth relic of the Buddha was the most sacred thing in the Sri Lanka and considered as the emblem of the kingship and the palladium of the Sinhala royalty. During that time, Tooth relic of Buddha was an essential thing to claim the legitimate right to the throne. In the Polonnaruwa kingdom there are 3 main tooth relic temples named as “Ata da ge”, “Heta Da ge” and “Wata da ge” and all these 3 are located in this place.

Apart from the tooth relic temples , there are magnificent Image house called “Thuparama” done with the vaulted roof architecture style. Nishshanka latha mandapaya, Stone book or Galpotha slab inscription and seven storied Thai Stupa shaped building called “Sath mahal prasada” can be seen in this premises.

05. Shiva temple – Hindu shrine

South Indian Emperor Raja Raja Chola invades the Sri Lanka in the 11th century AD and established the Polonnaruwa as their kingdom. So the they have built few Hindu shrines in here.several years later Sri Lankan kings expel the invaders and regained the power. But still they kept the Hindu shrines without destroying them. These Shiva Temple no 01 & 02 are dedicated for the God Shiva, one of the main three gods in the Hinduism. These Shiva temples in the Polonnaruwa archeological site were constructed by fixing the granite plates using an interlock system.

06. Gal viharaya (Uttarama or Nothern Monastery)

Gal viharaya or the Rock temple of Buddha is the most popular destination among the tourist and the pilgrims in the Polonnaruwa kingdom. According to the chronicles of Mahawamsa ,king Parakramabahu the first built this temple. The four Buddha statues in here are well preserved and considered as masterpieces of Buddhist art by the Sri Lankan sculptures. These statues are carved in the single massive rock ridge and depict the serene facial expressions of Buddha. Rock inscription in the premises reveals the treaty between the king and the Buddhist monks (treaty of Polonnaruwa). The inscription describes the code of the conduct of the Buddhist monk.