Polonnaruwa, The ancient glorious kingdom

Polonnaruwa, The ancient glorious kingdom
Above photo-Palitha Udayasiri
 
Just north of present-day Polonnaruwa town, 140km (90 miles) north of Kandy, are the ruins of ancient Polonnaruwa, which date from the late 10th century, when the Chola kings of southern India invaded Sri Lanka and conquered Anuradhapura. The invaders moved their capital to Polonnaruwa, strategically located for defence against attacks from the unconquered Sinhala kingdom of Ruhuna, in the southeast (which has lent its name to Sri Lanka's most visited national park). Their defences ultimately proved inadequate and in 1070 they were forcibly evicted from Polonnaruwa by the Sinhalese ruler Vijayabahu 1. Recognizing, however, that Anuradhapura's location made it vulnerable to any assault from southern India, he and his successors made their capital at Polonnaruwa, adding enormous temples,palaces, parks, gardens and huge tanks. By the 13th century AD, however, new waves of attacks from southern India forced the Sinhalese kings to abandon the north of the island, and the kingdoms of Kotte in the southwest (near modern Colombo), and Kandy, in the highlands, became the centres of Sinhalese power.
 
Suresh_Krishna Photography-http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2369326990047837447DXLuiP  Rankoth Vehera Palace of King Parakramabahu I, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Royal Palace, built by King Parakramabahu (1153-86) The Council chamber of the king Parkramabahu I, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Rankot Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Council chamber The Vatadage, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka The Vatadage, Polonnaruwa Seated Buddha inside the Vatadage, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Seated Buddha inside the Vatadage, Polonnaruwa A guardstone outside the steps of Vatadage, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka A guardstone outside the steps of Vatadage, Polonnaruwa Thuparama shrine, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Thuparama shrine, Polonnaruwa An image of the architectural style of the Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka An image of the architectural style of the Vihara, Polonnaruwa Hatadage, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Hatadage, Polonnaruwa Satmahal Prasada, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Satmahal Prasada, Polonnaruwa Peace amidst the ruins, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Peace amidst the ruins, Polonnaruwa Lotus Pond, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Lotus Pond, Polonnaruwa Lankatilaka, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Lankatilaka, Polonnaruwa Inside Lankatilaka, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka Inside Lankatilaka, Polonnaruwa

The ruins of the ancient city stand on the east shore of a large artificial lake, the Topa Wewa Lake, or Parakrama Samudra (the Sea of Parakrama), created by King Parakramabahu I (1153-86), whose reign was Polonnaruwa's golden age. Within a rectangle of city walls stand palace buildings and clusters of dozens of dagobas, temples and various other religious buildings.

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. To see many of the relics excavated from the site such as the stone lion which once guarded the palace of King Nissanka Malla, or the fine Hindu bronzes unearthed from the ruins of the Siva Devale Temple - you may have to visit the National Museum in Colombo, where they are kept. However, with the opening of the new Polonnaruwa Visitor Information Centre and its museum in 1998/9 some of the key exhibits were scheduled to return to the place where they were discovered.