A heritage walk through the Polonnaruwa Ruins is a rite of passage for some. The ruins have been well preserved and are an attraction that tourists from around the world travel to Polonnaruwa to see.
History of Polonnaruwa
Sri Lanka’s capital city, ever since the decline of the city known as Anuradhapura Polonnaruwa, contains a vast network of irrigations and reservoirs. It was known for its epic cultivation of rice, which occurred while King Parakramabahu the Great ruled. As a result, Sri Lanka was given the nickname of Granary of the Orient.
Polonnaruwa witnessed the growth of the civilization of the Sinhalese Buddhists. Ancient ruins dating back to the 10th century are located north of Polonnaruwa. The southern India Chola invaders entered Anuradhapura, causing much destruction and deaths in the city. They then refocused their invasive efforts on Polonnaruwa. They not only defeated the Dravidians in the year 1050 and forced them away from their home. As Anuradhapura was in a vulnerable location that left them open to attacks, the reigning King made the decision to declare Polonnaruwa the official capital of his people. During this time they added much to the area, including large tanks and temples, gardens, parks and palaces. Power was then shifted away from Polonnaruwa in the 13th century AD after the area was abandoned in favor of safer areas.
As an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, Polonnaruwa contains gigantic statues that were constructed using magnificent rock boulders. One of these statues is supposedly of King Parakramabahu.
Polonnaruwa is also the home of monumental sculptures that are completely intact to this day. The remains of several royal palaces are located on the site as well.
Notable Attractions At The Polonnaruwa Ruins Site
Many hikers that choose to visit this site often stop to admire its parks. This includes the Wasgamuwa, Flood Plains, Somawathiya and Minneriya Giritale National Parks. These parks contain beautiful reservoirs as well. There are also wildlife sanctuaries to explore.
Also located in Polonnaruwa is King Parakramabahu’s Palace. At seven stories, it is a memorable sight to see. The remaining palace walls are extremely thick; they hold intriguing drainage systems. Yet another seven stories building in Polonnaruwa is The Sathmahal Prasada. Though scholars believe the building to be a stupa, others disagree with this assessment.
Two of the most historic relic temples are the Atadage and Hatadage. They were built in the 11th and 12th centuries respectively. Both of these relic temples were home to Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic. These temples are both large in size and both contain carvings that are said to embellish each one. The Atadage is nothing more than a larger version of Hatadage. It was meant to hold not only the Sacred Tooth but also the Bowl Relic. The walls of the building contain discoloured inscriptions written by King Nissankamalla.
The Gal Vihara, or Rock Shrine, found at the north of end of the park, includes some of the master-pieces of Sri Lanka Buddhist art, and these were comissioned by Parakramabahu the Great. The huge rocks were oringinally enclosed by brick buildings, whose foundations can still be seen.
A walk through the Polonnaruwa Ruins is one that is filled with culture. Do make it a point to visit this ancient capital of Sri Lanka to appreciate the history of this country.
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