If you love art and are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, a visit to the historic city of Polonnaruwa is a must. Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was even declared as the capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura was conquered by the Cholas in 993 AD. Many kings ruled here and built various stupas, monasteries, and palaces. Today, remains of these monuments are still present and attract various art and history-buffs. There is a nominal fee for the entry tickets. Here are the top three places to see in Polonnaruwa for an insight into the rich past of Sri Lanka.
Royal Palace Group is the first site that you will come across after entering the complex of the Ancient City. The buildings date back to 1153 AD to the reign of King Parakramabahu I. The Royal Palace of the king is colossal and has 50 rooms. While it remains one of the most impressive structures even today, archaeologists claim that it had seven floors in the past. At present, only a few of the walls and structures remain, yet it astounds visitors.
The Sacred Quadrangle is a close set of remarkable monuments, situated on an elevated platform surrounded by walls. It is the most compact set of buildings in the complex of the Ancient City and is a must-visit attraction for people who love architecture and art. The terrace is quite elaborate and has four entrances lined with guard stones. All the four entrances lead to the dagoba situated in the centre.
Rankot Vihara is one of the best maintained and also the largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa. The traces of forest vegetation growing on the Ancient City remind one of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. While strolling around these antique structures, one can’t help but think about the architects of the past who had planned the whole city in such detail and about the archaeologists who discovered it in the dense wilderness.