Polonnaruwa, a World Heritage Site, became the second capital of Sri Lanka in 1070 A.D. It comprises the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, and the ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by king Parakramabahu I during the golden age of Polonnaruwa in the 12th century. Polonnaruwa is a repository of outstanding ruins, frescoes and enormous statues of reclining Buddhas. The ruins of the Royal Palace, Gal Viharaya, the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, King Parakramabahu’s statue, and the Parakrama Samudraya lake are some of the sites of interest. Irrigation systems constructed during this era supply water till today for paddy cultivation during the dry season.
The ruins of the old city are on the shores of Lake Thopawewa, man-made during the reign of a twelfth century king—a huge task, considering it was accomplished with nothing but manual labor. What remains of the ancient city itself is a cluster of palaces and temples contained within a rectangular city wall. The foundations of the royal palace and the king’s audience hall are particularly well preserved.
An outstanding site in Polonnaruwa is the Galviharaya, also known as the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge. It is an outdoor rock wall where giant standing and reclining sculptures of the Buddha were carved out of the living rock.
The reason to come here is to wander around this awesome ancient city ruins and see the local wildlife in the surrounding national parks.