Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 68

The next famous city we loved visiting in the Cultural Triangle
was Sri Lanka‘s medieval capital, Polonnaruwa, prospering from
the 11th century A.D. to the 13th century A.D. Polonnaruwa
replaced Anuradhapura as the capital city of Sri Lanka, due to the
invasion of South India. This city’s monuments are very close
together. Polannaruwa is famed for her beautiful sculptures. The
most outstanding is the Sitting, Sleeping and Standing Buddha,
in the Gal Vihare. The great ruined capital city of Polannaruwa
is one of the undisputed highlights of the Cultural Triangle – and
possibly of the whole island. King Vijayabahu had repulsed the Chola
invaders from South India. The Sinhalese kingdom he established at
Polonnaruwa enjoyed a century of magnificence under his successors,
Parakramabahu and Nissankamalla. They planned the city as one of
imperial pomp, creating one of the great urban centers of South Asia.
But eventually, extreme decadence bankrupted the city. Within the
century, their enfeebled successors were driven south by invaders
from southern India. Polonnaruwa was eventually abandoned to the
jungle, where it remained, hidden and virtually unknown, for seven
long centuries.
Visiting Polonnaruwa’s extensive and well-preserved remains
offers a fascinating snapshot of life in medieval Sri Lanka. You can
easily explore Polannaruwa thoroughly in one day. The glories of
that age can be found in the archaeological treasures that still give a
pretty good idea today of how it looked in its heyday. Roland Silva
especially loved Polannaruwa. The archaeological park is a sheer
delight to explore because there are hundreds of ancient structures
– tombs and temples, statues and stupas – in a compact location.
Furthermore, Polonnaruwa is also a good jumping-off point to
experience the national parks at Minneriya and Kaudulla where you
can be sure to see herds of wild elephants. So, be alert as they are a
common sightand something our children loved.
One of the most striking monuments to visit in Polonnaruwa is the
massive Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakramabahu), an irrigation
tank built by King Parakramabahu the Great. This was his largest
irrigation project and covered more than 15 square kilometers
of water. The stunning dam is almost 14 kilometers long and 12
meters high. The waters of the Parakrama Samudraya encircle the
ancient city, and during ancient times served as a moat against
invading armies.
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