A visit to the City of Polonnaruwa

A World Heritage site and treasure trove of historic relics, the ancient City of Polonnaruwa is among the best planned archaeological sites in Sri Lanka and is not to be missed during your Sri Lankan tour.
Polonnaruwa was declared the first city by King Vijayabahu in the 11th century, replacing Anuradhapurawhich had been left abandoned to the invading armies from India. The city reached its golden age during the reign of King Parakramabahu during the 12th century and much of the grandeur and awe-inspiring monuments erected during this time are still present to this day.
Many of our Sri Lanka tours visit the City of Polonnaruwa, including our 15 Day Group Family Tour of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Honeymoon Tour. Plus, we can easily incorporate a visit to Polonnaruwa and other historic Sri Lankan sites during a Tailor-made Sri Lanka Holiday!

Some noteworthy ancient relics in the City of Polonnaruwa

There are many amazing ancient relics to enjoy during your City of Polonnaruwa tour:

Rankot Vihara

The largest stupa in the City of Polonnaruwa and the fourth largest in the entire country, Rankot Vihara is over five hundred feet in diameter and was built during the reign of King Nissankamalla.

The massive stupa is supported by four large Vahalkadas which are made of brick and used as places of offerings.


Built to house the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha, the ancient shrine of Vatadage was originally built out of stone, wood and brick, but only the durable brick and stone structures now remain.

Once built over two levels, the shrine contains three Buddha statues carved out of granite rock.

Statue of the King

One of the best known historic monuments in Polonnaruwa is the statue of what is believed to be King Parakramabahu, located on the southern side of the Parakrama Samudraya (vast lake).

The beautifully preserved three and a half meter statue of the king is carved into the rock face and depicts him holding a stack of manuscripts. It is still argued whether the statue is in fact that of King Parakramabahu or instead Sage Pulasti – the person the city of Polonnaruwa is named after.

Gal Vihara

Built in the 12th century by Parakramabahu I, Gal Vihara is the most visited monument in the City of Polonnaruwa. The ancient rock temple of the Buddha contains four rock sculptures of Buddha, each carves into the face of the imposing granite rock face.

The largest of the sculptures is the reclining depicture of Buddha, measuring over fourteen metres in length. The other three sculptures are the standing image which is nearly seven metres in height, and two seated images.

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