Polonnaruwa was declared the capital of the island when the Kingdom of Anuradhapura fell. King Vijayabahu I chose this city as his capital after defeating the Chola invaders. Anuradhapura flourished under the reign of several influential kings and the country too steadily continued to grow and stabilise.
The Golden Age of Polonnaruwa dawned when King Parakramabahu I, ascended the throne. His vision, to use every single drop of water that fell from the skies, resulted in the creation of remarkable irrigation systems that baffle people even today. Paddy cultivation was a challenge in the dry zone, but the visionary king certainly made the impossible possible. The vast ‘Parakrama Samudra’ (Sea of Parakrama) was one of the greatest feats achieved during this time and the reservoir still glistens like a sea of hope in the heart of Polonnaruwa.
Many architectural marvels were also constructed during the era of Polonnaruwa. Things to do here certainly should include exploratory tours to discover the wonderful appeal of these majestic attractions. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa is, after all, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Gal Vihara, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, Rankoth Vehera, and Hatadage are some of the most prominent sites that can be explored on foot or by cycle.
Paying a visit to the Polonnaruwa Museum too will give one, a fascinating insight into the past of this one time capital, and all the legacies, its great kings left behind. Thriving among the old ruins are also large families of toque macaques (monkeys), who interest visitors just as much as the monuments.