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Archaeological excursions in Polonnaruwa

Sri Lanka has had a long and tumultuous history, filled with kings, grand battles, amazing architecture and epic stories, and that’s what makes it such an attractive destination to enthusiasts of the Ancient World. Ancient ruins are scattered across the island, with their tell-tale facades beckoning visitors to explore its secrets.

If the prospect excites you, then Polonnaruwa is definitely the spot for you. Located 230km from Colombo, Polonnaruwa was once a kingdom and a former capital of Sri Lanka. Its history dates back 2,500 years, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lying by the Mahaweli River, many of Polonnaruwa’s once-sturdy structures have long since collapsed, but quite a few monuments still stand. For example,the Parakrama Samudraya, a 1,200-year-old lake, still irrigates paddyfields all around it. This is interesting because Sri Lanka had one of the best irrigation systems of the Ancient World, and this is testament to that.

When entering the city, you’ll fully believe the architects of ancient Sri Lanka were visionaries. First you’ll see the Royal Palace, a 31m by 13m behemoth. Though its many floors aren’t standing today, it’s still a formidable structure.

The royal pools on the ancient city’s premises are works of art, with intricate carvings bordering them, though swimming in them in the present day is simply not feasible.
Of course, the Vatadage is not to be missed! Smack middle of the famed Quadrangle is a circular relic house known as the Vatadage. Its terrace is 18m in diameter, with four entrances, each guarded by gorgeous stone guards, characteristic of Sri Lanka’s architecture at the time.

This and much more awaits for those who venture into Polonnaruwa, including a 14m reclining Buddha statue that will certainly take your breath away! Many tour operators provide their services for those who would like to explore Polonnaruwa thoroughly, so don’t hesitate to take a tour of the culturally rich city while you’re in Sri Lanka!