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Statue of king Parakrama Bahu

When Anuradhapura had to be abandoned as capital after the invasion of the Chola from India, Pulatthinagara - now called polannaruwa - took its place in 1055.

The first potentate focused on agriculture by building an extensive system of water conduits.

Ruins in Polonnaruwa

From 1153 to 1196, his successors erected the magnificent religious and cultural palaces, the ruins of which were recovered from the dense overgrowing jungle by the British.

Polannaruwa's years of glory were brief and the decline set in around the middle of the thirteenth century when the united kingdom split up into several independent kingdoms.

The Gal Vihara

In the northern part of the complex you find one of the most striking works of Sri Lankan art, the twelfth-century "Gal Vihara".

This stupendous edifice consists of four large statues cut out of a granite wall: a sitting Buddha, a second sitting Buddha surrounded from smaller statues in a cave which was also hewn out of the rock, a 7 metre standing Buddha and a 14 metre recumbent dying Buddha.

Unlike the widely spread out sights and ruins at Anuradhapuras, the ruins at polannaruwa are all very close together and are connected through a network of roads.

It will take you about half a day to visit the whole complex, which features some impressively large structures.

City map of Polonnaruwa

City map of Polonnaruwa

Sacred area of Polonnaruwa

Sacred area of Polonnaruwa