Polonnaruwa Kingdom or the Ancient city of Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka for three centuries between the 11th to 13th centuries after the destruction of the Anuradhapura Kingdom in 993. It is located in the north central province of Sri Lanka. Due to its archeological prominence and ancient technological superiority, UNESCO declared Polonnaruwa a World Heritage in 1982 under the name of the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa.

History of Polonnaruwa Kingdom

Polonnaruwa was the first declared capital city by King Vijayabahu, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the nation once more under a local leader. During the time of the great King Parakramabahu who led the country between the times of 1153 – 1186 sustained such heroic scales in rice cultivation by constructing the massive irrigation network with reservoirs that look like natural in land seas. Sri Lanka became known as the Granary of the Orient. Polonnaruwa consists of ruins of the glorious kingdom of the Great King Parakramabahu. The richness and the glamor of this kingdom are still evident. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers.

The time of King Parakramabahu was considered as 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.

Ruins of Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu

Originally this was a seven storied building with approximately 1000 chambers, built by the King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186) located within the archaeological site of Polonnaruwa UNESCO World Heritage. The Palace was called as Vijayantha Prasada. Since it has consisted of 7 stories, the building also called “Sath Bumupaya” (in Sinhala).  The remaining huge walls with thickness over one meter and part of stairs and the foundation walls give you an idea about the size of the building. These massive walls over a meter thick going up to about 30 FT and the bottom half of the main stairway which led to upper floors can be seen today and parts of melted brick walls caused by intense heat when this was set fire by Chola invaders at the end of Polonnaruwa era. This can be highlighted as an important sight for archaeological educational tour in Sri Lanka. 

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