With a rich history dating back to 2,500 years, a former capital, the kingdom of Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with spectacular ancient structures, monuments and artifacts from the bygone era. The ruins of this once-majestic kingdom are considered one of Sri Lanka’s most popular and prominent cultural sites, and tops the list of most popular tours to historical places in Sri Lanka. Embark on a Polonnaruwa tour, which is included in Amaya Beach Excursions, to dive right into the island’s Cultural Triangle, a location made famous by Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer music video.Visitors must take time out to explore these countless sacred and palatial confines occupying this ancient city.

History of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was the second royal capital city of Sri Lanka. Firstly a military base for the invading South Indian Chola army who moved there from the then-capital of Anuradhapura, it was overthrown by the Sinhalese King Vijayabahu in 1070 who kept Polonnaruwa as his capital city. It became a fully-fledged city during the reign of King Parakramabahu I who built large structures, beautiful parks and a water tank. The following King Nisanka Malla ended up bankrupting the city by trying to copy King Parakramabahu’s actions. Polonnaruwa remained the country’s capital city until the late 13th century, at which point the glory of the city has diminished and the capital was moved to the Western side of Sri Lanka.

Must-Visit Places in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa has many fascinating places to visit. Here are just a few must-see sights in Polonnaruwa.

The Palace

The buildings that make up the former Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa date back to the reigh of King Parakramabahu I. It was once a massive palace with archaeologists claiming it had once been seven stories high. Currently it is in ruins, with some walls and structures that once held up the higher floors.

Gal Vihara

The sculptures at Gal Vihara are some of the most impressive ruins in Polonnaruwa. It features four gigantic Buddha statues in various positions carved into granite stone, dating back to the 12th century.


The Lankatilaka temple is home to a colossal Buddha statue (headless) and is framed by 17m high walls.

Audience Hall

The audience hall at Polonnaruwa has beautiful stone-carved elephants on the walls, with stone lions on the top of the stairs.


The Quadrungle is a cluster of ruins that are located on a raised-up platform grouped together by a wall. There are many must-see sights inside this Quadrungle itself, such as the Vatadage and a Dagoba with four magnificent statues of Lord Buddha.