Polonnaruwa declared a capital city in year 1070, is visited today by the experiential traveller for its great architectural and archaeological value. The ruins of the garden City built around a man-made lake to this date is one of the most cleanest and beautiful cities in the Country.
The City considered a UNESCO world heritage site, offers the visitor a glimpse in to the engineering, construction and architectural abilities of civilization that existed thousands of years ago.
The condensed medieval City can be explored in less than half a day as most sites are within walking distance.
Statue of King Parakramabahu: A rock carved statue of a king holding a stack of Ola manuscripts, the 3.5 meter high statue is believed to be that of King Parakramabahu.
Palace of King Parakramabahu: A seven storey high palace with an intriguing drainage system and walls of extra ordinary thickness with an adjoining Royal audience hall that has lion portals and the world famous stepping stone known as the moonstone.
Pothgul Vehera: The library monastery – a circular shrine housed in a central square terrace appears to have been used as an auditorium as well.
Siva Devale 1: A Hindu Temple dedicated to God Siva built in the 12th century
Siva Devale 2: A Hindu Temple built entirely of stone in the 11th Century has a stone carved lingam - a symbol of God Siva
Thuparama in Polonnaruwa: A brick built vaulted shrine during King Vijayabahu's time (1055-1110 AD)
Vatadage: A circular relic house surrounded by stone pillars and beautifully carved access stairs with a moonstone, and a Buddha statue at the entrance to each flight of stairs.
Nissankalata Mandapaya: A pavilion built by King Nissankamalla, for the use of Buddhist monks to chant Pirith (Buddhist Vedas) from.
The Satmahal Prasada: Layout resembling the Vat Kukut in Lamphun Thailand built in the 8th Century, this seven storeyed edifice is pyramidal in shape and believed to have been a Stupa.
Hatadage and Atadage: The 11th Century Atadage built by King Vijayabahu and the 12th Century Hatadage built by King Nissankamalla have both housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
Gal Potha (Stone Book): A 26 feet slab of stone lying beside Hetadage where deeds of King Nissankamalla have been recorded in stone along with details of the King's genealogy and the wars he fought.
Pabulu Vehera: The Stupa surrounded by four image houses has different poses of Lord Buddha carved in limestone. The footpath across from the Stupa is believed to be the "main street" of the ancient city.
Rankot Vehera: Built by King Nissankamalla, this is the largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa measuring 550 ft in girth with image houses and flower alters in the terrace surrounding the dagoba.
Lankatillake: The remains of the enormous brick structure with an elaborate carving of Lord Buddha enclosed within 55ft high walls is believed to have been a vaulted shrine known as gedige. Decorated with stucco figures and architectural models, there is also an exquisite figure of a female naga image.
Kirivehera: Milk coloured (Kiri) stupa is one of best preserved dagobas in Sri Lanka. During excavations, many mounds of minor stupas containing the remains of the royal family and the prelates of the monastery have been found.
Gal Vihara (Rock Temple): Is a cluster of Buddha statues carved out of a granite boulder. Most prominent is the standing image that is 7m (23ft) tall which is next to the reclining image that is 14m (46ft) and the standing figure. The dent on the pillow of the reclining image and the facial expression of the standing image are some of the great workmanship of the carvers that can be observed.
Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Bath): The pond is a design of a lotus flower with eight petals and is believed to have been used by pilgrims for ritual baths.
Tivanka image house: houses a Buddha statue that is bent in three places – the knees, waist and shoulders – (missing the head and the neck). The inner walls as well as the outer walls of the image house are exquisitely decorated.
Parakrama Samudraya (Sea of Parakrama) Built by King Parakramabahu (1153 -1186 CE) whose mission was not to let even "a drop of water flow in to the sea without being used" is to this date being used for irrigation by the residents in and around the region. The largest man made rainwater reservoir built by connecting three existing tanks – Giritale, Kawudulu and Thopa tanks – covers 2,330 hectares and holds 134 million cubic meters of water and stands testimony to the engineering miracles of the ancient times.
Replicas of some of the old buildings and monuments are exhibited in the museum for the benefit of the visitors and is a good place to visit prior to the start of a tour of the ancient city. The well laid out museum has dedicated chambers separated by theme as well as a room dedicated for a collection of bronze statues.