Nola Mcmahan

Nola Mcmahan

Published: 14 Sep 2023


Polonnaruwa, located in the heart of Sri Lanka, is a treasure trove of ancient history and breathtaking landmarks. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital of the country and served as a center of political and cultural significance. With its rich historical past and archaeological wonders, Polonnaruwa attracts visitors from all over the world.

In this article, we will explore 20 unbelievable facts about Polonnaruwa that will leave you amazed and intrigued. From ancient temples to intricately carved statues, from grand palaces to stunning reservoirs, Polonnaruwa offers a glimpse into a bygone era. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an immersive journey through time as we delve into the extraordinary landmarks and historical marvels that make Polonnaruwa a true gem of Sri Lanka.

Table of Contents

Ancient Royal City: Polonnaruwa

Located in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is an ancient royal city that served as the capital of the country during the 11th and 12th centuries.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Polonnaruwa is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, owing to its historical significance and well-preserved ruins.

Architectural Marvels

The city boasts magnificent architectural marvels, including intricate stone carvings, towering stupas, and grand palaces.

The Royal Palace

One of the main attractions in Polonnaruwa is the royal palace, which once housed the king and his courtiers during their reign.

Gal Vihara

The Gal Vihara, also known as the Stone Temple, is renowned for its colossal standing Buddha statues carved out of solid rock.

Rankoth Vehera

The Rankoth Vehera is a massive stupa that stands tall as one of the largest dagobas in Polonnaruwa.

Parakrama Samudra

Polonnaruwa is known for its impressive irrigation system, with the Parakrama Samudra being one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the ancient world.

Ancient Hindu Temples

Apart from Buddhist monuments, Polonnaruwa is also home to several ancient Hindu temples that display exquisite craftsmanship.

Intricate Stone Carvings

The stone carvings found in Polonnaruwa depict various scenes from the daily life, religious events, and mythological tales of ancient Sri Lanka.

Lion Throne

The iconic Lion Throne, also known as the Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, is a stone structure that served as a ceremonial platform for the ancient kings.

Global Trade Hub

Polonnaruwa played a significant role in global trade during its prime, attracting merchants and traders from various parts of the world.

Monastic Complexes

The city houses numerous monastic complexes where Buddhist monks used to live and practice their teachings.

Sacred Bo Tree

Polonnaruwa is home to a sacred Bo tree believed to be a sapling of the original tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

Ancient Medical Practices

The ruins of Polonnaruwa reveal evidence of advanced medical practices that were prevalent during that era.

Sixty-four Yogini Shrine

Polonnaruwa is home to the Sixty-four Yogini Shrine, a circular temple dedicated to the female deities of ancient Sri Lankan mythology.

Thivanka Image House

The Thivanka Image House features stunning wall paintings showcasing the artistic prowess of ancient Sri Lankan painters.

Lotus Pond

The Lotus Pond in Polonnaruwa is a serene water reservoir adorned with lotus flowers, creating a picturesque setting.

Annual Esala Perahera

Polonnaruwa hosts the annual Esala Perahera, a grand cultural procession that showcases the rich heritage and traditions of Sri Lanka.

Capital of the Chola Dynasty

During the Chola Dynasty’s reign, Polonnaruwa became the capital and experienced significant cultural and architectural development.

Cycling Tourist Destination

Polonnaruwa offers a unique experience for tourists, with cycling being a popular way to explore the ancient ruins and enjoy the scenic beauty of the city.


In conclusion, Polonnaruwa is a truly remarkable destination with a rich history and unparalleled architectural marvels. From the ancient ruins of the Royal Palace to the intricate stone carvings of Gal Viharaya, every corner of Polonnaruwa tells a captivating story. The city’s well-preserved landmarks and temples are a testament to the grandeur of Sri Lanka’s past civilizations.

Visiting Polonnaruwa is like stepping back in time, allowing you to immerse yourself in the splendor of ancient Sri Lanka. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking an awe-inspiring travel experience, Polonnaruwa should be at the top of your bucket list. Its grandeur, cultural significance, and stunning landscapes make it an unforgettable destination for travelers from all around the world.


1. How do I get to Polonnaruwa?

Getting to Polonnaruwa is relatively easy. The city is located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. You can reach Polonnaruwa by taking a domestic flight to the nearest airport, which is in Sigiriya. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Polonnaruwa.

2. What are the must-visit landmarks in Polonnaruwa?

Some of the must-visit landmarks in Polonnaruwa include the Royal Palace, Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa Museum, Rankoth Vehera, and the Quadrangle. Each of these sites offers a unique insight into the ancient history and architectural brilliance of Polonnaruwa.

3. Is it safe to visit Polonnaruwa?

Yes, Polonnaruwa is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, like any other place, it is always advisable to take necessary precautions and be aware of your surroundings. It is recommended to follow the advice of locals and take guidance from authorized tour guides when exploring the area.

4. What is the best time to visit Polonnaruwa?

The best time to visit Polonnaruwa is during the dry season, which falls between May and September. During this time, the weather is pleasant with less rainfall, allowing for easier exploration of the city’s landmarks. However, Polonnaruwa can be visited throughout the year.

5. Are there any accommodations available in Polonnaruwa?

Yes, there are various accommodation options available in Polonnaruwa, including hotels, guesthouses, and resorts. These establishments cater to a range of budgets and offer comfortable stays for visitors. It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.