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Polonnaruwa Ancient City

It served as Sri Lanka’s second and medieval capital for three centuries, from the 11th to the 13th century AD. Today, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa Ancient City is one of the finest planned archaeological sites in the country. Due to its historic significance and technological excellence, UNESCO designated the ancient city as a World Heritage Site in 1982.

Due to enormous irrigation network projects, the city was supported by paddy agriculture between 1153 and 1186. This kingdom’s wealth and opulence are still visible.

Additional information

Ruins in the City

  • The Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu– Once a massive 7 stories building built in the 12th century AD. Today, three levels of bricks remain with holes dotted an equidistance around, which would have likely been used for wooden beams that would have delineated the different floors
  • King’s Audience Hall– The hall is made out of rock slabs and pillars with beautiful motifs on them
  • Kumara Pokuna– “The Prince Bath” a pond made out of large stone blocks
  • Shiva Devalaya– A Hindu Temple built with large stone slabs and blocks
  • Vatadage– It is a typical circular Buddhist structure constructed using stone and brick with intricate stone carvings and a wooden roof
  • Galpotha- “The Stone Book” is a colossal stone slab inscription.
  • Sathmahal Prasadaya– The unique seven stories building is believed to be a stupa
  • Nissanka Latha Mandapaya– A unique lotus-shaped pillared structure is believed to be the recitation house for Buddhist chanting
  • Hatadage and Atadage- They are ancient relic shrines built with stone bricks and slabs
  • Rankoth Vehera Stupa– The stupa made with bricks is the largest in Polonnaruwa and the 4th largest in Sri Lanka built in the 12th Century AD
  • Thuparamaya, Lankathilaka and Thivanka Image House– Ancient Buddhist image houses with thick walls and the Buddha Statues
  • Kiri Vehera- This is 18 feet tall, a whitewashed, peaceful stupa is the second largest stupa in the town
  • Gal Viharaya– The feature of this rock temple is the magnificent four statues of the Buddha carved in a huge rock
  • The Statue of King Parakramabahu– A large statue beautifully carved out of a rock
  • Pothgul Viharaya– This is the oldest library complex found in Sri Lanka is a great work of ancient architecture
  • Parakrama Samudraya– “The Ocean of King Parakramabahu” is a huge man-made reservoir
  • Archeological Museum– The museum displays some fascinating ancient artifacts, like medical equipment, bronze figures, and miniatures of old structures. A visit to the museum before visiting the historic city would provide you with a better understanding of the Polonnaruwa kingdom.

Nearby Attractions

  • Minneriya National Park

Because of its elephant population, Minneriya National Park is the second most visited national park in Sri Lanka. From May through September, Asia’s largest elephant gathering takes place in their natural habitat. Ideal to visit in May to September.

Distance: 37 Km

  • Angamedilla National Park

Angammedilla national park is a hidden forest reserve declared as a national park in 2006 according to protect the drainage basin of the Parakrama Samudraya tank, which was built 870 years ago.

The elephants are the most popular in the park. It is also home to deer, large water buffalos, monkeys, Indian muntjac, peafowls, junglefowl, sloth bear, grizzled giant squirrels, tufted grey langurs, purple-faced langur, and rare red slender loris.

As it is not a very famous national park compared to others in Sri Lanka good to enjoy a peace and solitude safari.

Distance: 21 Km

  • Medirigiriya Vatadage

Madirigiriya was a large monastic complex that had been in existence for almost two millennia. The monastery’s centerpiece, Vatadage (circular relic house), was a place of worship with a stupa in the center and four stone-carved Buddha statues facing the four directions. The remaining rock pillars show that there was a roof over the construction.

The damaged but still magnificent Medirigiriya Vatadage is a fine example of ancient Sri Lankan stone artistry. Other attractions of the site include two bathing ponds, stone inscriptions, a cave, a latrine, a hospital, and a rock medicinal bathtub.

Distance: 34 Km

The most popular nearby attraction: Minneriya National Park (37 Km)


within 10 Km

Star Classified Hotels- Yes (up to 4 star)

Boutique Hotels- No

Resorts- No

International Chain Hotels- No

Ayurvedic Hotels- Yes

Villas- Yes

Eco Hotels- No

Camping- No

Unclassified Hotels- Yes

* You might still find preferred accommodation in nearby cities.


CMB Airport- 195 Km (travel time: 4hrs 30min)

Colombo City- 227 Km (travel time: 4hrs 45min)

Dambulla- 67 Km (travel time: 1hrs 30min)

Anuradhapura Ancient City- 105 Km (travel time: 2hrs 20min)

Sigiriya Rock Fortress- 53 Km (travel time: 1hrs 10min)

Kandy City- 133 Km (travel time: 3hrs)

Galle Dutch Fort- 323 Km (travel time: 6hrs)

* The time and distance are only given to give you an idea. There are stopovers between the two locations. The cities listed above are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

Best Time

Year round

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