The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa.
Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa was once a thriving medieval capital city in early Sri Lanka. It was King Parakramabahu I that deemed the city as capital during what was considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa. Today, the heritage site houses some of the most astonishing urban creations, due to its unusual dimensions and a synergy between its buildings and the natural setting.
Perhaps the most popular of temples is the majestic rock temple, Gal Vihara. This temple is a breathtakingly beautiful shrine containing mammoth sized stone carvings of Buddha on a large granite rock face, a great testament to the boundless skill of the ancient Sinhalese sculptors. At some point in time, each carving was enshrined within a separate enclosure. On the rear of the standing Buddha carving, you can see the sockets cut into the rock, into which wooden beams would have been inserted.
The ancient ruins are also home to the Quadrangle, a wall bounded concentrated collection of buildings. Within the walls, there is an image house, Bodhisattva shrine, Bodhi tree shrine as well as the Gal Pota (Stone Book), displaying the longest such stone inscription in Sri Lanka. Some of you may recognize the Lankathilaka Image House as it was the setting for the 1982 Duran Duran music video, Save a Prayer.
For nature lovers, Polonnaruwa is surrounded by many national parks that are rich in flora and fauna. In both the Minneriya-Giritale Sanctuary and the Angammedilla National Park, there are undisturbed nature trails and walking guides available for you to discover and learn about Sri Lanka’s wildlife. For a more adventurous feel, take a safari ride through the Minneriya-Giritale sanctuary to spot animals that roam freely in the park. There are large numbers of Sri Lankan elephants and you will be able to spot calf elephants with their mothers whilst they feed on the landscape.
Polonnaruwa has tropical climate all year round but can get a little chilly in December and January. Once at Polonnaruwa, bicycles are the best way to get around but three wheeler taxis are also a viable option.
Travel back in time and relive the majestic era of the kings of Sri Lanka at this picturesque heritage site!