Take a cycling tour of the 02nd capital of Sri Lanka – Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, for a look at some of the island’s most dazzling ruins. Polonnaruwa is the ancient heart of Sri Lanka which dates back to 12th century with an impressive stone culture recalls an inspired past.
Polonnaruwa is belongs to North Central Province, Sri Lanka. It remains as one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, which was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982. The kingdom was first established by the Chola dynasty as their capital in the 10th century under the name Jananathapuram. Under this period Hinduism flourished.
The ruins of the ancient city stand on the east shore of a large artificial lake, the Topa Wewa Lake, or Parackrama Samudraya (the Sea of Parackrama), built by King Parakramabahu I (1153-86), whose reign was Polonnaruwa‘s golden age. Within a rectangle of city walls stand well-preserved dagobas, moonstones, beautiful parks, massive buildings and stunningly beautiful statues. A scattering of other historic buildings can be found to the north of the main complex, outside the city walls and close to the main road to Habarana and Dambulla.
You will be shifted to the past from present while you are wandering via these impressive sites. Enjoy a guided cycling ride around the Sea of Parackrama (Parackrama Samudra), a vast 12th-century man-made water reservoir which is also one of the main highlights in this wonderful ancient city. This is an irrigation tank built, as the name indicates by King Parakramabahu the Great. The waters of the Parackrama Samudraya circle the ancient city and its environs, and in ancient times served as a moat against invading armies. An intricate network of irrigation canals supplied water from this reservoir to surrounding paddy fields, ensuring that agricultural production could be carried out year-round. The hitherto rain-fed agricultural practices were transformed, and Polonnaruwa became the rice growing capital of ancient Lanka.
You will be visited noteworthy ruins like Royal Palace – the Palace of King Parakramabahu I. The Palace must have been an imposing edifice, and the chronicles describe it as “seven stories high, furnished with a thousand chambers”; King’s audience hall; Statue of King Parakramabahu - a striking rock carved statue which is believed to be that of the great King Parakramabahu, who was responsible for Polonnaruwa’s golden age; Shiva Devale No:1 - a Hindu temple of chaste and restrained line dedicated to God Siva was probably built during a period of Indian domination in the thirteenth century; Vatadageya - an elegant circular relic house lavished with moonstones and guard stones; Nissanka Latha Mandapaya - a sacred hall of unknown purpose, and it was built by Nissankamalla; Thuparama - brick-built vaulted shrine is the oldest image house in Polonnaruwa, which once carried a Buddha statue; Sathmahal Prasada - a square pyramidal tower in seven tiers – a Dagaba of novel design; Atadage and Hatadage - two temples with embellished fine carvings built to house the sacred tooth relic during the 11th and 12th century; Ran Koth Vehera (The Golden Pinnacle Dagaba) - the largest and most impressive dagoba in Polonnaruwa; Lankathilake (The Image House) - a gigantic intricate clay image house which preserves a colossal Buddha statue; Gal Viharaya - a group of four beautiful Buddhas in perfect condition, cut from one long slab of granite and many more.
This is one of the best ancient cities in the country that gives a big experience within a short period of time as the monuments are in a more compact area. You will be cycling about 10km on soft surfaces as you whizz between the ruins. Although nearly 1000 years old, it is much younger than Anuradhapura and generally in better repair. Cycling expedition in Polonnaruwa - one of the better kept ruins of ancient Ceylon will be fun and easy to reach!