North Central Province
Polonnaruwa a “UNESCO World Heritage Site” was the Capital of Sri Lanka from 11th – 13th Centuries, containing some spectacular statues and cultural values of both Buddhists and Hindus.
Lankatilake, Tivanka and Thuparama are the most beautiful and largest Image Houses and Tivanka has the best examples of frescoes of the Polonnaruwa period. Rankoth Vehera and Kirivehera are well preserved large stupas, and Gal Vihare – a rock shrine, has four Buddha statues, two seated, one standing and one reclining and Parakrama Bahu statue are examples of Sinhalese stone carver. The Vata-da-ge is a unique creation of the Sri Lankan artists.
The medieval capital, Polonnaruwa was fortified with inner & outer moats and inner & outer walls. The Parakrama Samudra is on the western side of the city. The Royal Palace, Audience Hall and other buildings in the inner city were enclosed by another tall wall.
This is a Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Polonnaruwa. It is also the most perfect specimen of Buddha statue which is made out of solid stone. This was crafted during the reign of King Parakramabahu who ruled from 1153 to 1186 A.C. It consists of four cave shrines which are named as the excavated cave, the cave of reclining image, cave of standing image, and cave of Vijjadharas.
he Royal Palace is a huge structure, measuring 31 m by 13 m, once including 50 rooms supported by 30 columns. Even today it is quite an impressive building, but picture it being seven floors tall with 3 m thick walls, as the archaeologists claim it once was! Today only some of the walls are left and the holes on the walls suggest them being there to hold floor beams for two higher levels. Impressive building such a big palace in those days without machines!
The Audience Hall is one of the best-preserved structures in the Royal Palace Group, with beautiful stone carved elephants on the walls.
The Sacred Quadrangle is a compact group of beautiful and impressive ruins within a raised up platform bounded by a wall. This is the most concentrated collection of buildings in the whole Ancient City, and a must-see for any visitor!
Wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders (especially women), since some of the ruins of the Ancient City are sacred. Light cotton clothes will help as it gets warmer during the day time.
Parakramabahu I believed that “every drop of rain must be preserved and used before it reaches the shores”, hence he made a lot of contributions to the country’s irrigation system. Parakrama Samurdraya is the largest of his constructions. It is a complex of smaller tanks connected with narrow channels forming up a massive reservoir spreading across an area of 22.6 square kilometers. The complex consists of five smaller tanks named Thopa, Erabadu or Katu, Dumbuthula, Kalahagala and Bhu. Wild elephants visit the shores during the dry seasons.
This National Park with 8889 hectares in extent is famous for its large population of elephants in herds of 100 to 150 roaming in the jungle and seen in the catchment area of the lake.
Entrance is about 6 km from Habarana on the main Habarana Polonnaruwa road. Office is by the side of the main road.
About 300 wild elephants, wild buffaloes, wild boar, spotted deer, sloth bear, Sambhur, Leopards, Crocodiles, Jackals, 9 kinds of amphibians, 25 kinds of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 26 varieties of fishes, 78 varieties of butterflies are recorded from the Minneriya National Park.
Somawathi Stupa is located in the middle of the jungle, in Polonnaruwa district. From Polonnaruwa, you have to travel to Sungavila and then take a lengthy road which leads to the temple through the Jungle. Somawathi stupa has written historical evidence that it was constructed in 2nd century BC. According to the historical facts, this dageba was constructed with placing the sacred right side tooth relic of load Buddha within.
Its recommended to go Somawathiya in dry season (May through Sep), because there is a probability that the area get flooded during the raining time.
Enjoy a bicycle ride through the majestic ancient city stopping by the key monuments for a guided explanation. You will be enjoying a cool water break under the huge trees along the way.
A 1 ½ hour drive towards Sri Lanka’s east coast will bring you to beautiful Pasekudah beach. Enjoy a sea bath in this cristal clear waters and you can walk for meters in to the sea as it is so calm. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants along the beach where you can please your taste buds with different Sri Lankan sea food. You may also have a brisk walk to the nearby village to witness them going about their day to day activities.