Polonnaruwa is a showcase for tourists of the great ancient Sri Lankan architecture dating back to 12th Century AD. Polonnaruwa is frequented by tourists for its well-preserved city of ancient dagobas, moonstones, massive buildings, beautiful parks and statues. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned Archeological relic sites in the country, declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Polonnaruwa is the 2nd largest city in north central Sri Lanka located at a distance of 216 km from Colombo. The city is known among travellers as one of the cleaner and beautiful cities of Sri Lanka beacuase of its greenery. The city of Polonnaruwa is popular among travellers for its pleasant environment, amazing historical monuments, Parakrama Samudra (a huge lake), attractive tourist hotels and nice hospitality.
History of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa, historically the second most ancient city of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, was a royal capital of both the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms for three centuries. In the late 10th century, Chola dynasty of southern India invaded Sri Lanka and made its capital at Polonnaruwa after conquering Anuradhapura. Then the Sinhalese king Vijayabahu I defeated the Cholas and drove off from the island in 1070, he declared Polonnaruwa as his capital.
Under the reign of King Parakramabahu I (1153–86), Polonnaruwa reached its height. The king Parakramabahu I developed the city of Polonnaruwa with architects and technicians brought down from India and built huge buildings, planned beautiful parks and created a spectacular artificial lake called Parakrama Samudra (the sea of Parak rama) which was the main source of irrigation of that area. It is believed that the present lake is not the actual lake he created; it is merged with three older tanks. During 11th to 13th century, the city was renovated with additions and enlargements made by each successive generation.
Parakramabahu I was followed by Nissanka Malla (1187–96), who virtually bankrupted the kingdom through his attempts. By the 13th century AD, new waves of attacks from southern India forced the Sinhalese kings to abandon the north of the island, and the centre of Sinhalese power shifted to the western side of the island – Kotte (near modern Colombo). In 1982, Unesco added the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to its World Heritage list.