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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Must see things in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – cultural masterpieces
Joanna James Joanna James
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Must see things in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – cultural masterpieces

Though the glory days of Polonnaruwa which is one of Sri Lanka's ancient capitals are long gone, travellers arriving here will experience a truly magnificent display of priceless cultural symbolisms.


The Royal Palace

Seen as testament to the reign of King Parakramabahau 1, the Royal Palace takes its place as one of the most stupendous engineering marvels of the ancient world. Featuring amongst a group of buildings that saw the light of day during the great king's time, the palace presently represents the ruins of a magnificent structure. Measuring 31 meters by 13 meters, this creation once housed 50 rooms and was bolstered by 30 columns which further had access to multiple levels that were made solely by human hands.


Audience Hall

The Audience Hall which was often used by King Parakramabahu 1 to meet with his officials during yesteryear is now an iconic symbol of architectural value. This is largely in part to the stone carvings that beautify the hall in more than on way. Whilst stone carvings of elephants in different postures adorn the walls, the entrance to the Audience Hall features depictions of lions on either side and upon venturing inside, ruins of stone work scatter the entirety of the hall.


The Lankathilaka Buddha statue

Found within towering walls which measure approximately 17 meters in height is the impressive Lankathilaka Buddha statue which one must pay a visit to if staying at any of the nearby Sigiriya hotels such as the Aliya Resort & Spa. Having walked up the steps and through the aisle which leads to the statue, travellers like yourself will witness fine examples of masonry in its immediate vicinity which continue to withstand the test of time.


Gal Viharaya

Hewn out of solid granite are three representations of Lord Buddha which can be found at the Gal Viharaya. The 7 meter tall standing Buddha, a sitting Buddha together with a 14 meter long reclining Buddha forms an integral part of the cultural appeal which is an ever present force when one begins to scour each section of the Gal Viharaya.


Rankot Vehera

Largely dominated by thick foliage around it, the Rankot Vehera retains a special place in the hearts of your average historian and that too for good reason. The vehera is recognized as being Polonnaruwa's largest dagoba and is the 4th largest of its kind in the country. It is believed that the vehera was constructed during the rule of King Nissanka Malla.


Shiva Devale No. 2

Seen as an example of the South Indian influence, the Shiva Devale No. 2 is one of the few buildings which has remained intact through changing times. Built entirely out of stone, the devale is a Hindu temple and goes back to the days of the Chola invaders who arrived in Polonnaruwa during the early years of the 11th century. The shrine is covered in intricate details that pay homage to the Hindu faith and is surrounded by gravel paths & beautiful gardens that would warrant more than a casual stroll.