Polonnaruwa, just like Anuradhapura (Read — Tour of Anuradhapura), is another of Sri Lanka’s most famous royal ancient towns. About 50 kms away from Habarana where we were staying (Read Review of Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana), we started off soon after breakfast since we also wanted to go to Sigiriya in the evening.
Polonnaruwa ruins is spread across sprawling grounds, extremely green and extremely well maintained. Here, amongst the ruins of the temples, libraries, baths, courts and courtyards, get a glimpse of life inPolonnaruwa under the rulers of the 9th century. Stories and folklore that have flowed through centuries not only take you back to that era, but also impress you by the scale of discipline and planning that went into making the Polonnaruwa town. The manmade lake, Parakrama Samudra, the many canals tell tales of how the farming community was helped by their rulers; the many temples, once again, reinforce how deeply religious people had been in those days.
Just like the town of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, too is scattered over a huge area. The tour of the complete ruins easily take about 3-4 hours, depending on your levels of interest and curiosity. The tour starts with a visit to the state-run archaeological museum that houses relics of that era, as well as stories of every site in the ruins. Give it a careful reading, for all of those come live when you are at the ruins.
We started off with the much revered statue of King Parakramabahu, a little beyond the lake, and then went deep to the Gal Vihara – the place that houses two statues of Lord Buddha, one standing and one, lying down; Kumara Pokuna, the bath; Thuparama, the library; Shiva Dewalya and Hatadage; the towering Lankatilaka Temple; the Satmahal Prasada and more. The ruins captivate you like no other. Its layers of history, its many generations of folklore and the picturesque sites can bind you to hours of story-telling and romancing with the camera……
Musts for the Polonnaruwa Ruins Tour:
- Get your tickets from the Museum.
- Like in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa too is deeply religious. And hence, you will have to adhere to the dress code — for women, arms, legs and necklines need to be covered; no shorts for men. Children are exempted.
- Wear good walking shoes since you will need to walk a lot even when your car drops and picks you from point to point.
- The ruins are rich in history. Hence, strongly recommend you to avail the services of a guide.
- Carry snacks and enough water. The day we went to Polonnaruwa, it was drizzling and raining by turns. But we figured that on sunny days, it will be very hot. Hence, wear enough sunscreen….and carry umbrellas, be it for the sun or the rains…
- We also saw many tourists going about the sites in bicycles. Should you be keen to do that, suggest you enquire at your hotel, and not take one at the sites where the rent could be exorbitant.
For a complete itinerary for a Sri Lanka trip, read — Best Itinerary and Blogs for a Sri Lanka Road Trip