Polonnaruwa Travel Guide

  • Polonnaruwa
    by mavl
  • Gal Vihara, Polommaruwa
    Gal Vihara, Polommaruwa
    by earthflyer
  • Burmese monks at Polonnaruwa
    Burmese monks at Polonnaruwa
    by chizz

Polonnaruwa Things to Do

  • Gal Vihara.

    Since I was a child I remember the famous video of Duran Duran and its wonderful Buddhas, well here my dream came through as i saw them live and in color. The Gal Vihara is a majestic group of Buddhas all cut from one long slab of granite, Four images of different sizes are carved out of a cliff about 56 yards long and falls away gradually at each...

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  • Rangkot Vihara.

    Outside the quadrangle, north of the city wall, stands the Rangkot Vihara a huge Dagoba (the largest in Polonnaruwa) constructed as other Dagobas in the country of a earth fill building, covered by a dome made of brick mantle and plaster.

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  • Atadage.

    The Atadage is the first Tooth Relic Temple of Polonnaruwa. It was built by Vijayabahu in the 11th century. The name Atadage means "House of Eight Relics". What remains of Atadage today are 54 stone pillars which once supported a timber upper floor where the relic was kept. A big Buddha statue stands near the end of the temple.

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  • Gal Pota.

    Located on the north side of the quadrangle, the Gal Pota is an old stone book that sings praises to king Nissanka Malla, also includes the foot note that the slab (Weighin 25 tonnes) was brought from Mihintale (100 kms away).

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  • Hatadage.

    This ancient shrine located in front of the Vatadage, is an ancient shrine built by Nissanka Malla to house the relic of the tooth of Buddha, and has three Buddha statues at the back end

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  • Satmahal Prasada.

    This ziggurat-style temple wich consists of six diminishing storeys is an example of south-east asia influence on Sinhalese architecture, and it really reminds me of other pyramid style temples i´ve seen in Angkor Wat and Tikal.

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  • Shiva Devalaya Nº 1

    South of the quadrangle, this Hindu temple is notable for the superb quality of the stonework, it used to had a domed brick roof now collapsed.

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  • Vatadage.

    The centerpiece of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Dalada Maluwa (the hall of the Tooth Relic), was a sacred precinct containing 12 magnificent buildings. Although there are numerous vatadage across Sri Lanka, the Vatadage at Polonnaruwa is the most famous. As with many other vatadage, it had a stupa in the centre with four Buddha images...

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  • Thuparama Gedige.

    Located in the quadrangle, a compound within its own rectangle of walls, guarding the richest collection of ancient buildings in any of Sri Lanka's ruined capitals. The Thuparama Gedige (hollow Buddihist temple with tick walls) is a fine example of the gedige style of temple architecture which flourished at Polonnaruwa, and the only one to survive...

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  • Council Chamber.

    A mond wich was once the site of King´s throne (the throne is now housed in the Colombo archaelogical museum) adnd was used also as a audience hall. At the bast of the council chamber are bas-relief elephants. At the entrance are two flights of steps with moonstones, franking them are Makaras (mythical dragon-like beasts). The wooden roof of the...

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  • Kumara Pokuna.

    Located in the southeast corner of the palace compound, near the Council Chamber is the Kumara Pokuna or bathing pool, a beautiful and very well preserved pool.

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  • Royal Palace.

    King Vijayabahu reunite the country after defeating the Chola invaders from India, and moved the capital from Anaradhapura, declaring Polonnaruwa as the new capital. A massive tank was constructed encircling the city and creating a stable defensive barrier against attacks. The royal palace was the center of the power, a huge palace of seven...

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  • Vejayanta Pasada (Royal Palace)

    On entering the site the first thing you see are the remains of the royal palace. The massive brick walls of its main hall give you an idea of its size. It is said that the palace had seven storeys.

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  • Parakramabahu's Council Chamber

    This is where the king would have met advisors and petitioners. The hall consists of a raised terrace studded with columns, the roof has long gone. It's set on a huge base supported by bas-relief elephants. The entrance has two flights of steps with moonstones and dragons.

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  • Gal Vihara

    This is a group of four Buddha statues carved out of a granite cliff-face. My favourite was the 14 metre reclining Buddha. There is also a 7 metre tall standing Buddha and two others showing the Buddha in a seated position.I found the statues to be fascinating and the area to be both spiritual & relaxing. The only negative is the metal roof...

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Polonnaruwa Hotels

  • Hotel Sudu Araliya

    If there's a hotel I have loved to bits in Sri Lanka, this hotel is the one! Not only because it had...

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  • The Royal Lotus

    Giritale, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

    Satisfaction: Average

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 2.5 out of 5 stars

  • Polonnaruwa Resthouse

    Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

    Satisfaction: Terrible

    Good for: Solo

Polonnaruwa Restaurants

  • another Sri Lankan buffet

    Let's face it - I'm not a fan of buffets.. usually the food is very indifferent and of no quality at all. Sadly this restaurant was not the exception. I guess I'll never understand why Sri Lankans are so fond if buffets The usual buffet-style Sri Lankan dishes - hot, spicy and not very good tasting. There must be better Sri Lankan food than this....

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  • Eating near Polonnaruwa

    Right next to one of the entrances to Polonnaruwa, you will find the Rest House Polonnaruwa which has a small restaurant overlooking the lake.The restaurant is quite old and a photo of Queen Elizabeth II's visit here in 1954 is proudly displayed in the corridor nearby. In some ways, the hotel looks as though it has not changed since the 1950's, but...

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  • The queen visited it, but don't bother

    We were treated to a lunch at the rest house where the queen had lunch in 1954. Not a lot changed then. I really believe the food we were served was from 1954! Awful, and dirty. Would recommend that you safe your money, go elsewhere. It is a tourist trap.

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Polonnaruwa Nightlife

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    What's better than finishing the day with an ayurvedic massage, especially if you are on a honeymoon? Nothing that we could think of - so there we went - ended up having a 2 hours long full-treatment. it included a full body massage, a foot massage, a face massage, a head massage, a steam bath and a herbal bath. The masseurs and masseuses were really nice and friendly, and their treatment top quality. Worth the money even if clearly overpriced. The centre is located inside the Hotel Sudu Araliya, in a little cottage in the garden.

    Dress Code: naked, please

    the entrance to the ayurvedic centre

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Polonnaruwa Transportation

  • Lal Lanka Tours (tuk tuk)

    If you are planning to visit the cultural triangle why not save yourself time and get yourself a great tuk tuk driver. Lal has one of the most comfortable rides in Sri Lanka with car seats fitted into his piaggo. The extra boot space means your luggage can easily fit without you feeling uncomfortable. He is based in Sigiriya usually stationed...

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  • Bus???

    In our case we used a bus from Anuradhapura to reach Polonnaruwa. it was a slow trip in an old fashioned bus and as usual crowded. We even had a break down....!!!Beware though to tell the driver to let you get off at Polonnaruwa "Old Town" close to Seylan Bank. The bus and train station are actually 3 kms away from there at the town of Kaduruwela....

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  • Bus and train stations

    Both the train and bus stations are in Kaduruwela, four kilometres east of town. Buses generally pass through town though so you should be able to hop off in the centre near the post office. You could hop on here as well when leaving, but if you want to make sure you have a seat you should go out to the bus station.

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Polonnaruwa Local Customs

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Updated Dec 13, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When you are visiting the temples - if you stay on the fild - or in some buildings that were not sacred (the library, the royal palace, the meeting hall) - you can keep your shoes on. As soon as you are visiting a sacred place, however, you'll see a sign asking you to remove your shoes in sign of respect. If you think the ground is going to be too hot, bring some socks. if you think you'll get bored taking off your shoes all the time, bring some sandals.

    piedini???

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Polonnaruwa Warnings and Dangers

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Written Dec 14, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mine is a warning, as there's nothing you can do about... but the cumulative cultural triangle ticket costs (November 2004) 40 dollars - which is the most expensive ticket I have ever bought. If you are going to visit two of the following attractions, it's worth to buy the ticket: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla.

    ticket

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Polonnaruwa Off The Beaten Path

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Written Dec 13, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Parakrma Samudraya is a lake -in fact it's the largest man-made lake in Sri Lanka. it's not just a simple lake - however - it's an historic lake built by King Parakrama the Great (Parakramabahu I) during the time of Polonnaruwa's golden age. Back then it was even more important than it is today: it provided water for acres and acres of cultivated land: 18,200 acres of land to be precise. More numbers? It was built by merging 5 minor lakes into 1; 1000 men were employed in its construction and it took 12 years to be built. Today it's still used for irrigation purposes, but it's also a well-known spot for birdwatchers.

    Parakrma Samudraya

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Polonnaruwa Favorites

  • Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura?

    If you have limited time to spend sightseeing around Sri Lanka, a question rises: Should someone visit Polonnaruwa and/or Anuradhapura. The answer is simple: if you are a fan of ancient history then both sites are a must to visit in order to have a complete idea of Sri Lankan history. If you prefer to take a just a glimpse of antique Sinhalese...

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  • Cultural Triangle Ticket

    Polonnaruwa is included in the Cultural triangle Ticket which represents a good value to get rather than paying for each site separately.This cost around 40$ (!!) and covers six sights (Anuradhapura, Sigirirya, Polonnaruwa, Nalanda, Medirigiriya, Ritigala BUT NOT Dambulla caves and certainly NOT the temple of the tooth in Kandy. The ticket is valid...

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  • Polonnaruwa in a nutshell

    Polonnaruwa is located in the north-central part of Sri Lanka. It is an ancient Ceylonese capital - possibly the most beautiful of them all. It became the residence of Ceylon's kings in 368 A.D and for about one thousand years it remained the country's "capital". My fondest memory is just about anything I saw. The Gal Viharaya was just as...

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Explore Deeper into Polonnaruwa
Vatadage
Things to Do
Kumara Pokuna (Royal Baths)
Things to Do
Gol Potha (Book of Stone)
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Lotus Pond
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Galvehera
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Lankathilaka
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Shiva Devale No.1
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Audience Hall
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Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu I
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Potgul Vihara (Library Museum)
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Wonders with stone...
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Southern Group
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Lotus pond
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Gal Vihara: The rest Buddha statues
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Gal Vihara: The reclining Buddha
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Alahana Pirivena: Gal Vihara
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Alahana Pirivena: Kiri Vihara
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Alahana Pirivena: Kiri Vihara
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Alahana Pirivena: Lankatilaka
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Alahana Pirivena: Rankot Vihara
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Quadrangle: The “Vatadage”
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Quadrangle
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Royal Palace group: Council Chamber
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Royal Palace group: The Royal Palace
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Navigating in Pollonaruwa
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Polonnaruwa Quadrangle
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Pabulu Vehera
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Northern Monuments: Tivanka Image House
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Northern Monuments: Gal Vihara
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Northern Monuments: Lankatilaka
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Northern Monuments: Rankot Vihara
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Siva Devala 2
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Pabulu Vihare
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Quadrangle: Nissankalata (Lotus Mandapa)
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Quadrangle: Satmahal Prasada
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Quadrangle: Hatadage
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Quadrangle: Vatadage
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Royal Citadel: Vejayanta Prasada
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Royal Citadel: Kumara Pokuna (Prince's Bath)
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Royal Citadel: Council Chamber (Audience Hall)
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Map of Polonnaruwa

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