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Experiences in Polonnaruwa

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Discover the relics of Sri Lanka’s medieval capital

Polonnaruwa is the island’s oldest ancient kingdom, second only to Anuradhapaura. Polonnaruwa was declared the capital in 1070 by King Vijayabahu I after his victorious battle against the Chola (South Indian) invaders effectively ended their 50 year rule, and Sri Lanka was once more united under a Sinhalese leader. Though Polonnaruwa was abandoned in 1310 AD, it acted as the capital of Sri Lanka for over two centuries. King Parakramabahu I, who succeeded King Vijayabahu I, was largely instrumental in developing the kingdom of Polonnaruwa, by way of adding elaborate sculptures and temples adorned with beautiful, intricate carvings throughout most of the 12th century.

Spend a morning looking round these extensive and well-preserved ruins, either by bike or on foot. The entire complex is astounding, but there are several features which are particularly fascinating. Don’t miss the Satmahal Prasada, a seven-storey edifice which has such unusual and striking architecture that it still baffles historians, or the colossal sculptures of Lord Buddha at the Gal Vihara which date back to 1150AD – the standing Buddha measures a monumental 46ft.

 An alternative way to explore these ruins is to meet the monkeys of Polonnaruwa, recently eulogized in Disney’s ‘Monkey Kingdom’ movie. Get up close and personal with Sri Lanka’s three diurnal primates – the purple-faced leaf monkey, the toque macaque, and the grey langur – with an expert and learn all about these fascinating creatures and their life amongst the ruins.

Hosted Experiences

Polonnaruwa’s famous monkey population have made themselves at home amongst the ruins that were once glittering palaces and temples.

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Individual Experiences

Explore one of the national parks in the Cultural Triangle, accompanied by a naturalist in the safety of a 4x4.

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Polonnaruwa was the glorious medieval capital of Sri Lanka. Explore the ruins, which are divided into four main parts.

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