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Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

UNESCO World Heritage Site near Colombo

Located in northern Sri Lanka is the second-oldest city on the island, Polonnaruwa. In fact, Anuradhapura was succeeded by Polonnaruwa as the Ceylonese capital towards the end of the 10th century, when the former was abandoned following a fierce invasion.

Its proximity to the east coast is also one of the major factors in its development throughout the years, while the bordering Mahaweli River has helped in its economic and agricultural development. Owing to these important facts, it was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1982. It is also considered by many experts and historians as one of the most important Buddhist shrines.

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Ancient City of Polonnaruwa Background

In 368 AD, Polonnaruwa became the residence of the erstwhile Sinhalese Kings and with the passage of time, the city gained importance, becoming the seat of power and urban lifestyle. Under the able leadership of King Parakramabahu I during the 12th century, Polonnaruwa enjoyed its golden days, becoming the most splendid city in Ceylon endowed, with extensive buildings, monuments and other structures like parks, museums, and sanctuaries. Even the great ‘bathing tank’ belongs to this era.

The most important buildings and structures included Galviharaya, the Royal Palace of Parakramabahu I, the lotus pond, Lankathilaka and others. Although, most of these are in ruins now, the government is trying hard to recover and renovate as much as possible.

But later rulers were incapable of handling the reins of the kingdom and shunning away invasions and attacks, resulting in the downfall and decline of Polonnaruwa. By the start of the 14th Century, Polonnaruwa was deserted and lost forever. Still, the remains of this once-splendid city testify to the greatness and discipline of those capable rulers who were successful in sculpting such a marvelous and wonderful urban creation.
 

  • Location: North-central Sri Lanka
  • How to get there: Buses from Colombo
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