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Historical Places to Visit in Polonnaruwa

Present Day Polonnaruwa is located around 228 kilometres northeast of Colombo. Sri Lankan aborigines were claimed to have settled in Udumbara girl or Doomarakka Pbbatha, a cave nearby this region. During the 6th century BC, the cave was identified as "Vijitha Grama," according to Mahawamsa. Furthermore, It also mentions the visit of Princess Baddakachchana's on her journey to Anuradhapura. As we already know, the city has a magnificent heritage and a rich background to itself. As per Mahawamsa, this was the site where the only face-to-face battle between King Elara and King Dutugemunu took place. Read on to find out about the popular places to visit in Polonnaruwa

How to travel

Distance from the Airport – 196 km

By Road

196 km. A 4 to 4 ½ hour’s drive

Colombo – Habarana - Polonnaruwa Highway – with traffic

By Train

Colombo – Jaffna Express train – 6 hours

Travel from Colombo fort railway station as you can get tickets for 3rd class and 2nd class. (3rd class railway tickets price is very cheap)

3rd class is very crowded sometimes not recommended for tourists.

To pre-book a rail journey contact a travel agency

For more information, log in to –

By Air

Colombo – Polonnaruwa – 30 mins
The following travel companies that are mentioned offers localized chartered flights and Helicopter tours :

01 Parakrama Samudra (Reservoir)


Parakrama Samudra (also known as King Parakrama's Sea or the Sea of King Parakrama) is a shallow reservoir (wewa) located in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. It is made up of five different wewa (reservoirs) (thopa, dumbutulu, erabadu, bhu, kalahagala tanks) connected by a narrow channel of streams.

Built around 386 AD, the northernmost reservoir is known as Topa wewa (Sinhalese wewa is almost identical to the English word lake or reservoir, but used in a unique Sri Lankan technique). The reservoir was expanded and the centre section is also known as Eramudu wewa, was added during the reign of King Parâkramabâhu I, while the southernmost section, Dumbutula wewa, was constructed during his reign. The statement "do not allow even a drop of rainfall in this land go to the sea without use" inspired the construction of this wewa (reservoir). The wewa (reservoir) was so vast that it was given the name samudhraya (ocean), but there was another reason for it, we know that waves erupt in tanks, but the Sarakrama Samudhraya was so huge that the waves were identical to ocean waves.

02 Pulasthi rishi statue

The Statue of Parakramabahu I is a stone sculpture built during the Polonnaruwa period of ancient Sri Lanka, found near the Pothgul Vehera in Polonnaruwa. Its exact identity is unknown, while it is popularly assumed to be a statue of Parakramabahu I. It has also been suggested that it is a sage statue. The statue, carved on a huge boulder, represents a stately figure with a solemn look carrying a book or yoke. If you are a history buff, this is one of the mandatory places to visit in Polonnaruwa.

03 Island Park


Deepa Uyana is a park located outside and to the west of King Parakramabahu's palace, expanding to the Parakrama Samudraya's shores. King Nissanka Malla's council chamber is reported to be here. Deepa Uyana was previously known as the Dipuyyana in Pali, which means "an Island Garden." According to inscriptions, King Nissanka Malla had dubbed the Deepa Uyana "Kalinga Uyana."

04 Archeological Museum - Polonnaruwa


The Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum houses artefacts discovered during excavations in the medieval city of Polonnaruwa, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is an awesome place to begin your tour to Polonnaruwa, especially because the museum's models of the city's buildings allow the visitors to visualize how the city might have looked like a couple of hundred years ago.

Visitors can learn about this former capital by subject as they move around the museum, with a series of Chola bronzes serving as a highlight. This should definitely be in your list of things to do in Polonnaruwa.

05Royal Palace of king Parakramabahu


The remaining half of the building can be accessed from the south. The large center hall, spanning 13x31m, which has been utilized most likely for political gatherings. The roof is supported by 36 wooden columns with noticeable sockets in their brick bases. Since these wooden pillars were prone to deterioration, they were covered with brick and mortar. Beam sockets for the following floor level were retained by thick flanking walls. Scholars believe that massive walls were required to compensate for the foundation's shallow depth. The ground floor, as is customary, is open to the public.

06Hindu Temple – God Shiva temple


This is one of Polonnaruwa's earliest dated monuments. It was dubbed after Raja Raja Chola’s queen, Mahadevi Iswaramudaiyar, Rajendra Chola’s mother. As a result, the Kovil was named Manawan Mahadevi Iswaramudaigar Kovil. The symbols used for worship are the Lingam and the Yoni. As a result, it was thought to be in a temple dedicated to fertility. It was created with granite stone slabs using the grove and peg method and to this day it is still in a remarkably outstanding shape. At present, this temple continues to remain operational. In the Polonnaruwa museum, some of the exquisite bronze sculptures found in and around shrines are on display.

07Sacred Tooth Relic Chamber (Heta da ge)


In Polonnaruwa, there is an ancient shrine known as Hetadage. During the Polonnaruwa era, King Nissanka Malla built it to preserve the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It is assumed to have been a two-storey construction, with just sections of the brick and stone walls remaining after the upper floor was destroyed. Hetadage is located near the Dalada Maluva's north side, and its southern entrance directly faces the Polonnaruwa Vatadage's entrance. The Gal Potha and Atadage are located on the Hetadage's eastern and western shores, respectively. The term "Heta" means "sixty," and the Hetadage is thought to have been created in sixty days, hence the name.

08 Sacred Tooth Relic Chamber (Ata da ge)


Polonnaruwa Atadageya was the temple in the Polonnaruwa kingdom that used to accommodate the precious Tooth relic of Lord Buddha. This temple used to be a two-story tower with a length of 75 feet and a width of 45 feet. King Vijayabahu I built Polonnaruwa Atadageya in the 11th century after defeating the enemy army and uniting the land together.

09 Nissanka Latha Mandapaya


Nissanka Latha Mandapaya is a remarkable and historic structure and is one of the mandatory places to visit in Polonnaruwa. A mandapaya is a pillared structure with open sides on all four sides and a roof that shields the people indoors from the sun. King Nissanka Malla, who governed the kingdom of Polonnaruwa from 1187 to 1196, built Nissanka Latha Mandapaya. It lies near the western entrance to the Dalada Maluva, which is the area where the city of Polonnaruwa's most precious and ancient monuments are located.

10 Circular Relics Chamber (vata da ge)


The Polonnaruwa Vatadage, one of the kingdom's finest and most remarkable structures, has a long and rich history. This complex, which is thought to be the only one of its sort in Sri Lanka, it is said to be where the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was placed after the capital was moved from Anuradhapura in the 11th century.

11 Galpotha


Nishanka Malla carved this peculiar inscription to warn the people to behave well, not to hand over the crown to anyone other than a member of the Kalinga clan, and to tell them of his foreign invasions and states. The piece of stone was transported from Mihintale by his soldiers, a distance of around 100 kilometres.

12 Sathmahal Prasadaya (seven-storied palace)


It's supposed to be a seven-story Dagaba. According to archaeologists, identical structures can be found in the Vat Kukut Monastery in Lamphun, Thailand. There is no inner space in this monolithic building.

13Gal Viharaya – Rock Temple


The Great King Parakramabahu the 1st built this majestic monument. The term Gal vihara means "rock shrine" in English. During an exploration carried out in 1820AD, Lt. Fagan discovered it. Another name for this shrine is Uttararamaya.

14 Temple of Marbles (Pabalu Vehera)


The Pabalu Vehera, is an oddly formed brick structure, it is beleived to have been most likely commissioned by Queen Rupavati, one of the consorts of the great Parakramabahu of Polonnaruwa. In comparison to the former kingdom of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa has a great number of monastic structures. The name Pabalu Vehera is derived from the glass beads discovered in the area of the monastic complex, but the area's true name is unknown. From the exterior, this fairly remarkable structure appears to be a stupa on another stupa, a bizarre but attractive design not seen anywhere in the country.

15 Rankoth Vehera (Golden Pinnacle Stupa)


Rankoth Vehera is a stupa in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka's historic capital. Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa, who ruled the nation from 1187 to 1196, constructed the stupa. The Rankoth Vehera was constructed simlarly to the traditional styles of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya's stupas, and it looks quite similar to Ruwanwelisaya. In fact, a stone inscription near the stupa gives it the name "Ruwanweli." However, it was later given the name Rankoth Vehera, which has been in use even today. In Sinhalese, ran denotes gold, kotha denotes a stupa's pinnacle, and vehera denotes a stupa or temple.

16 Alahana Piriwena Complex


This is a big monastic complex in the city's northwestern outskirts that spans 80 hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area was given the name Alahana because of the numerous crematory stupas. It's a big educational complex with various faculties (mullas), and it's thought to have been established during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great (1136-1186AD), making it almost 800 years old.

17 Lanka Thilaka Viharaya – The Image House


The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was ruled by Parkramabhu I (Pali Mah Parkaramabhu 1153–1186AD). He unified the three minor kingdoms of the island during his reign from the capital city of Polonnaruwa, becoming one of the last rulers in Sri Lankan history to achieve so. He oversaw the growth and refinement of his city, as well as the construction of enormous irrigation systems, the reorganization of the country's army, the reformation of Buddhist customs, the encouragement of the arts, and military campaigns in South India and Burma. One of his most famous proverbs is "not even a little water that falls from the rain must run into the ocean without being made helpful to man."

18 Ancient Bikku Hospital


According to legend, King Maha Parakramabahu founded numerous hospitals. It's possible that this is one of them. The archaeologists believe that this hospital was divided into two sections, one for residential use and the other for outdoor use. Surgical scissors, clippers, surgical blades, and wound incisors were also discovered during excavations on this site. As narrated by the archaeologists, they pointed out that during ancient times there had been many surgical operations that were being carried out.

19 Kiri wehera


This enormous stupa is reported to have been constructed by King Parakramabahu the Great's queen ("Subadra"). This stupa is regarded as the second-largest in the Polonnaruwa district. The diameter is around 88 feet and the height is approximately 80 feet. In the area, there are also other modest shrine dwellings to be viewed.

20 Angamadilla National Park


Angammedilla National Park is one of Sri Lanka's newest national parks. On June 6, 2006, the area was classified as a national park. Angammedilla was once a forest reserve within the Minneriya-Girithale Sanctuary, which was established on February 12, 1988. The park was established primarily to safeguard the Parakrama Samudra drainage area. If you are a nature enthusiast, this should be on the top of your things to do in Polonnaruwa list.

21 Flood Plains National Park


The Mahaweli River development project has four national parks, and one of them is the Flood Plains National Park. The park was established on August 7, 1984. The Mahaweli flood plain runs through the national park, which is a rich feeding habitat for elephants. Elephants roam between Wasgamuwa and Somawathiya national parks, and Flood Plains National Park is considered an elephant passage.

22 Medirigiriya Circular Relics Chamber


Of all the similar structures on the island, this vantage is thought as being the most attractive and well-preserved structure. The Mandala giriya is another name for it. Furthermore, the name Medirigiriya is another name for the shrines and temples that are located on an elevated rock surface in the heart of a 100-acre Buddhist complex. To get there, take the Habarana-Polonnaruwa road. Batticaloa ((route A11) turn to hingurakgoda from minneriya junction route B155 travel 3.5km and 16km along road B287 to reach Medirigiriya. The ruins are at Ambagaswewa. The Vatadage, which is constructed on an elevated rock platform with a stupa in the centre, is the complex's significant feature. There are four Buddha sculptures facing the four directions. Almost all of the beautifully sculpted rock pillars that use to support the timber framework in order to hold the roof covering for the entire tower are still in place, and it has thought to have been built in the 3rd century Bc during the Anuradhapura dynasty.

23 Minneriya National Park


Minneriya National Park is located in Sri Lanka's North Central Plains, 182 kilometers from Colombo and is one of the top places to visit in Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa is the closest significant city to Minneriya National Park. The Minneriya National Park is centered on the reconstructed largly historic Minneriya Rainwater Reservoir, which irrigates a large region of the Polonnaruwa district. Minneriya National Park, which is part of the elephant passage that connects Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa parks, allows visitors to witness elephant herds all year. The greatest time to visit Minneriya National Park is from May through October, when the renowned Gathering of wild elephants takes place.

24 Kaudulla National Park


In Sri Lanka, Kaudulla National Park is located near Gal Oya. It is well renowned for its enormous elephant herds, with up to 300 elephants present at any given time (probably the largest in Asia). Because the Minneriya National Park is adjacent to Kaudulla, elephants travel between the two parks at different times of the year. It is best to c heck which park the elephant flocks are currently in before planning your visit. Around 3 p.m, while the flock gathers at Kaudulla tank for an early supper, is the optimum time to visit.

25 Minneriya Lake


Minneriya Tank is a reservoir in Sri Lanka built by the Anuradhapura Kingdom, an ancient civilisation. The lake was created after King Mahasena ordered the construction of a dam over the Minneriya River. The tank has a total area of 4,670 acres (18.9 km2).

The Minneriya Tank was constructed by King Mahasen (276–303), who ruled over Anuradhapura. This tank covered 4670 acres, and its 13-meter-high dam, which ran for 2 kilometers, stored nearly 20 billion gallons of water. The water came from the Amban River, the Mahaveli River's primary tributary, 48 kilometers away, via the Elahara canal, which was completed by King Vasabha (65–109) before his time.

26 Girithale Tank


The Giritale Lake (ගිරිතලේ වැව) is one of the most well-known reservoirs in the Polonnaruwa area. It is supposed to have been constructed by King Agbo and is one of the deepest tanks ever created during the Polonnaruwa period. Because of the lake's popularity and tranquil surroundings, there are numerous hotels and vacation cottages in the neighborhood. It might be considered one of the nicest sites in Polonnaruwa to spend a couple few days.

27 Wasgamuwa National Park


Wasgamuwa National Park (Wasgomuwa) is 36,900 hectares in size and is flanked on the east and west by the Mahaweli Ganga and the Amban Ganga. The elevation ranges from nearly 500 meters at Sudu kanda hill to about 76 meters along the Mahaweli Ganga. For keen hikers, the combination of a number of tiny reservoirs and the Sudu kanda mountain range provides excellent trekking prospects.

28 Thivanka Image House


King Parakramabahu constructed this as part of the Jethavanaramaya complex. The image of Lord Buddha is known as "thivanka" because it is bent in three places and stands around 6 meters tall. This location features some wall paintings that look a lot like Sigiri paintings. The venue is now well-maintained and closes at 6 p.m. The guy there has given a thorough explanation of the location's history.

29 Dimbulagala Ancient Temple


Dimbulagala Raja Maha Vihara is 16 kilometers south of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka's ancient capital. A number of caves cut into the rock in the Dimbulagala mountain include Brahmi writings on their dripping ledges. The British named this medieval forest monastery and holy abode since time immemorial, home to some of the most valuable remains of early frescoes, the Gunners Quoin. Due to the efforts of Kithalagama Sri Seelalankara Thera, this Buddhist monastery, which had been abandoned since the time of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, was restored to its current form in the 1950s.

30 Maduru oya National Park


Maduru Oya National Park is 314 kilometres from Colombo and is located in the Dry Zone. The Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance designated it as a national park in 1983. The elephant habitat in Maduruoya is well-known. Leopards, sloth bears, samburs, spotted and barking deer, wild boars, and wild buffaloes are some of the animals that you can find here. It spans 58,850 hectares in total. Madura Oya National Park is one of the best places to go for a family getaway. You can stay here if you want more pleasant surroundings.