Polonnaruwa

Poḷonnaruwa is the main town of Polonnaruwa District in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Kaduruwela area is the Polonnaruwa New Town and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country once more under a local leader. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Currently the new Polonnaruwa is undergoing a major development project known as the "Awakening of Polonnaruwa" under the concept of President Maithripala Sirisena. It envisions the development of all sectors in Polonnaruwa including roads, electricity, agriculture, education, health and environment will be developed comprehensively.

While Vijayabahu's victory and shifting of kingdoms to the more strategic Polonnaruwa is considered significant, the real "Hero of Polonnaruwa" of the history books is actually Parakramabahu I. It was his reign that is considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa. Trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the king, who was so adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted and each was to be used toward the development of the land. Hence, irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during Parakramabahu's reign - systems which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. The greatest of these systems is the Parakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu's reign.

With the exception of his immediate successor, Nissankamalla I, all other monarchs of Polonnaruwa were slightly weak-willed and rather prone to picking fights within their own court. They also went on to form more intimate matrimonial alliances with stronger South Indian kingdoms until these matrimonial links superseded the local royal lineage. This prompted an invasion by the Aryacakravarti dynasty King Kalinga Magha in 1214, who founded the Jaffna kingdom (1215-1624 CE). Local power passed into the hands of a Pandyan dynasty king following the Jaffna kingdom invasion of Lanka in 1284, who moved their capital to Dambadeniya. Polonnaruwa was also called Jananathamangalam during this brief period under the Pandya.

Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic cities in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Near the ancient city, there is a small town with several hotels (especially for tourists) and some glossy shops, and places to fulfill day-to-day needs. There are government institutions in a newly built area called "new town," about 6 km away from the town and the main road. Polonnaruwa is the second largest city in North Central Province, but it is known as one of the cleanest and more beautiful cities in the country. The green environment, amazing ancient constructions, Parakrama Samudra (a huge lake built in 1200), and attractive tourist hotels and hospitable people, attract tourists.

Another draw for tourists is the city's population of toque macaques. The monkeys have been living in the ruins since human occupation and continue to thrive here long after the humans left.

 

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