After finishing off with the first part of Polonnaruwa (only ‘first’ because that’s where we visited first), we drove a few minutes to another big part of this ancient Sri Lankan city – starting with Satmahal Prasada, a 6 layer pyramid-esque structure (used to be 7 layers) with figurines on the walls, which are still visible…
…before carrying on to Polonnaruwa Vatadage, an almost 900 old structure which is believed to have held the ancient Relic of the Tooth (which is, as it sounds – the canine tooth of the Buddha left to the King at the time for veneration).
To think these structures have been here for almost 900 years is almost as impressive as the structures are detailed. Again, I don’t know if I’m alone here half of this historical structures still existed in Sri Lanka. Obviously this is part of why its always great to have a local’s recommendation like we did with Evaneos as it makes all the difference when it comes to visiting places like this where your knowledge is rather limited.
As with other religious sites in Sri Lanka, you have to walk around them in a clockwise manner (which is done as its believed that the Buddha blesses you on your right arm).
Note: You’re also not allowed to wear shoes inside any of these places so leave your proper shoes at home and come in flip-flops you can leave outside.
Wandering around the ancient city of Polonnaruwa leaves you with no shortage of access to so much of Sri Lanka’s history (hence why a visit to the museum prior to visiting is highly recommended as you get a lot more context before you arrive here).
I could go on and on about the different structures we say here and why they’re quite important but two things –
a.) I can’t pretend to be an expert on Sri Lankan history after spending just a couple of hours here (I can however tell you that it’s very fascinating and worth seeing in person)… and
b.) there’s already a Wikipedia article on this great and ancient city so why re-invent the wheel? (Which I doubt would be half as detailed anyway).
We moved on eventually to the third part of this ancient city…
…which by the way, has more than its fair share of monitor lizards (so, heads up).
This part of the city is called Gal Vihara and its where you can find the 12th century carvings of the Buddha statues in the rock.
These statues are absolutely impressive and a proper reminder of the architectural and artistic prowess of Sri Lankans…
…not to mention, a sacred monument for Buddhists the world over.
We finally finished off the city with a visit to Lankathilaka temple, passing by a couple of stupas on the way.
Lankathilaka temple is perhaps (in my opinion) one of the most impressive sites here. It is towering (impressive so) and still holds on to almost 900 years of history rather intactly.
See what I mean?
You can’t take photos at the museum but there’s a re-creating of what this would have looked back in it’s hey days that truly bring to life how magnificent this structure was.
At this stage, I know it’d only been a couple of days so far in Sri Lanka but the ancient city of Polonnaruwa was already one of my favourite sights to see in Sri Lanka and one that I couldn’t recommend highly enough to add to your itinerary when you visit!