The ancient city of Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka. Today, it is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a huge archaeological site (122 hectares) with perhaps Sri Lanka’s most impressive artifacts and ruins.

The site houses the ruins of Sri Lanka’s largest Buddhist University called “Alahana Pirivena”.  The city is an important stop for Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims because of many Buddhist monuments and ruins attested to various historical incidents. In the past, the city gained influence under South Indian rulers who were ousted by the Sinhalese rebels during the eleventh century CE. The ruins of Polonnaruwa are popular for their blend of Anuradhapura and South Indian architecture. This is because the ancient inhabitants of Polonnaruwa were a mix of Buddhist and Hindu elite. In the face of growing South Indian power, the kingdom of Polonnaruwa was short-lived and abandoned around 1300 CE. The ruins of Polonnaruwa were mostly unknown until colonial explorations started in the Northern wildernesses of the island. The city has inspired many people through its liberal approach to Buddhist art and Hindu sensuality. It is a place where Buddhist monuments and Hindu shrines stand side by side. The kings of Polonnaruwa extended the Anuradhapuran irrigation system to this kingdom as well. The main site lies on the bank of a large ancient reservoir. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa is the earliest form of contemporary Sinhalese culture.

Citadel of Polonnaruwa
Citadel of Polonnaruwa - Ancient City Of Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Rock Temple
Rock Temple in Polonnaruwa UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Sacred Quadrangle
The Sacred Quadrangle - Ancient City of Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra, Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka
Nissanka Latha Mandapaya (Nissanka’s Lotus Pavillion)
Nissanka Latha Mandapaya - Nissanka’s Lotus Pavillion - Anceint city of Polonnaruwa
Statue of Parakramabahu or Pulasthi
Statue of Parakramabahu or Pulasthi - Ancient City Of Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka

Things to do in Polonnaruwa

Cycling in Polonnaruwa

Cycling in Polonnaruwa is the perfect way to explore the ruins. It takes the pace out of traveling and gives you enough time to discover your favorite places. Cycling can really benefit you as rushing through Polonnaruwa can really make your Polonnaruwa experience less charming. The site is more than 122 hectares and hundreds of ruins are scattered everywhere. Besides, cyclists are more than welcome to the archaeological park with shaded trees, green grass and paved roads between the ruins.

Advantages of cycling in Polonnaruwa
  • Takes the pace out of traveling
  • Gives your visit a free vibe
  • Ensure a good experience
  • Enjoy the scenery and let the wind run through your hair
  • Snap superb photos
  • Explore all the ruins which everybody miss out on
  • Cyclist guides are available.
Things to know when you go cycling at Polonnaruwa
  • Motor vehicles are also permitted into the park and there are no bicycle lanes. Thankfully, drivers are more disciplined inside the park.
  • It will be hot. Do not forget your biggest water bottle.
  • A ticket is only valid for a day (Which means you still will have to manage time)
  • Make sure your legs and shoulders are covered. (or you won’t be allowed to enter many places.)
  • Ancient granite pavements and traditional sand yards are hot in the bright sun and you will be asked to take your shoes off when entering. (Bring a pair of socks!)
  • Street hawkers will love you.