Polonnaruwa is an ancient City with some very well preserved ruins despite the damage inflicted by invaders, is a must visit place in the itinerary of an all inclusive tour of Sri Lanka. This metropolis of antiquity was created in the 12th century by the Sinhala monarch Parakramabahu the 1st, and is an astonishing urban settlement. The striking harmony between its buildings and its natural surroundings attest to a civilization at its zenith with a sure grasp of aesthetic sensitivity and architectural design.
The Chola invaders from South India who launched successive invasions practiced Brahmanism, whilst the Sinhalese Kings were devoted Buddhists. The Hindu shrines and Buddhist monasteries that stand in silence emanates the zealotry of the invader and the determination of the defender.
Monasteries that sheltered monks from Ramanna Desha (present day Myanmar) testifies to the close ties that existed between two Buddhist kingdoms during the Polonnaruwa period. The conquering Cholas constructed monuments to their religion Brahmanism, and temples to Shiva where fine bronze statues were found which can now be seen in the National Museum, Colombo – a place if you are interested in antiquity while on your Sri Lanka Holiday.
When the Sinhala King moved to the new capital of Polonnaruwa, the sacred Bodhi Tree could not be moved from Anuradhapura. Thus, the Sacred Tooth Relic became the repository of Sinhala Sovereignty. The “Atadage” the Temple of the Tooth Relic is the most impressive structure among the remains of Polonnaruwa.
The Gal Vihara, the Stone Reliquary, with its enormous rock sculptures is undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements of Sinhalese art.
Polonnaruwa city is where you can see the island’s greatest historical treasures. It is still of great economic significance as a contributor to agriculture. The enormous reservoir called the Parakrama Samudraya (Sea of Parakrama) was built by King Parakramabahu the 1st (1153-1186 AD).
The large expanse of water dominates the entire Citadel of Polonnaruwa and its environs with its retaining wall, 14 kms in length and 12m in height. The manmade reservoir covers a surface area of 15 sq.kms.