Polonnaruwa the ancient city

Polonnaruwa the ancient city

The ruins of Polonnaruwa are scattered over an extensive area of dry, gently undulating woodland. The entire site is about four kilometres from north to south, and rather too large to cover by foot. The best idea is to rent a bicycle . The site is open daily from 7am to 6pm and is covered by the CT ticket. Tickets have to be bought at the museum in the villag . they can’t be bought at the entrance itself. You can see everything at Polonnaruwa in a single long day, but you’ll have to start early to do the city justice.

Polonnaruwa was originally enclosed by three concentric walls and filled with parks and gardens. At its centre lay the royal residences of successive kings, comprising the Citadel , and the buildings of the Island Gardens (comprising the less well-preserved remains of Nissankamalla’s palace complex).

South of here are the scant remains of the southern ruins, while just to the north of the palaces lies the city’s religious heart, known as the Quadrangle, which contains the densest and finest group of remains in the city . Polonnaruwa’s largest monuments are found in the northern part of the city, comprising the buildings of the Menik, Rankot, Alahana Pirivena and Jetavana monasteries, including the famous Buddha statues of the Gal Vihara and the evocative Lankatilaka shrine.

To the west of the city lies the great artificial lake, the Parakrama Samudra , encircled by rugged hills and providing a beautiful backdrop to the town – an evening stroll along the waterside Potgul Mawatha makes a scenic way to end a day. The lake was created by the eponymous king, Parakramabahu, though sections of the irrigation system date right back to the third century AD.

Covering some 26 square kilometres, the lake provided the medieval city with water, cooling breezes and an additional line of defence, and also irrigated over ninety square kilometres of paddy fields. After a breach in the walls in the late thirteenth century, the tank fell into disrepair, and was restored to its original size only in the 1950s.


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