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Polonnaruwa Travel Guide: 118 reviews and 286 photos

World Heritage Site

Designated a World heritage Site in 1982 Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka between the 11th and 13th Centuries and, particularly during the reign of Parakramabahu I, the city flourished as a cultural, artistic and imperial centre.
Three concentric walls protected the city, enclosing gardens, palace buildings and temples.On the west side the huge and impressive artificial lake (Parakrama Samudra/Topa Wema)), designed by Parakramabahu, provided water for irrigation.
The city was abandoned as a capital in the late 13th Century but the lake and the well preserved ruins of the ancient palace complex remain, giving a fascinating insight into a once great city.


Many of the ancient temples in Sri Lanka have moonstones at their entrance. Those in Anradhapura and Polonnaruwa are some of the finest examples.
Moonstones are half circles of polished stone decorated with animals and motifs which have symbolic meanings. On the outside are flames of purifying fire, inside rings of, for instance, elephants (representing birth), horses (old age), lions (illness), bulls (decay), geese (purity) and serpants (lust and desire) move towards the sacred lotus flower, representing nirvana, at the centre.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful evocative ruins and statues
  • Cons:If you are in a tour party you may feel rushed moving around the site
  • Last visit to Polonnaruwa: Sep 2002
  • Intro Updated Oct 18, 2003
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