The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is as vaste and huge as it is impressive and so, try as I might, I haven’t been able to fit all of the photos into one blog post. The page would take forever to load if I tried to cram it all in so I’ve split it into two posts.
After our visit to the UNESCO World Heritage ancient city of Anuradhapura, I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Polonnaruwa but suffice it to say, I was even much more impressed as a whole by Polonnaruwa!
I’ve got to admit, if not for our itinerary with Evaneos Travel (who organised all of it with locals on ground) I don’t think I would have known to visit Polonnaruwa. It’s not a place I’ve heard of prior to wanting to visit Sri Lanka but it’s a place I knew I couldn’t wait to see as soon as I heard about it.
Polonnaruwa is just so huge, so well preserved and oh soooo old. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the second main capital of Sri Lanka after fighting sent people away from Anuradhapura (that story is more complicated than I’ve made it sound – you can see the full deets on Wikipedia).
Our day started off with breakfast by the pool before meeting with our driver and heading out on the relatively short drive to Polonnaruwa.
Before we started though, we learnt our lesson from our first day in Sri Lanka that we needed to cover our legs at the temples and so we stopped off in the nearby city in search of sarongs and loose trousers to wear at the temples. There’s no way I would be trying to squeeze into skinny jeans for a second day in a row.
Turns out, this was a lot easier said than done. We found a couple of places that did have the right clothes but at exhorbitant prices (*according to our driver). My bartering pride meant that we insisted on trying to get a great bargain rather than pay almost 4 times the price.
Some places had just the material which we could buy and take to a tailor to finish it up for us. Not quite what we had in mind…
…and so we soldiered on with our shopping expedition, which for me, just ended up being a chance to explore this city on foot.
And in considerable heat too! (Seriously, we thought the Maldives were hot when we were there just a few days before but Maldivian heat has nothing on Sri Lankan heat!)
Eventually, we found out way to an air-conditioned shopping mall where we proceeded to cool off rather shamelessly in front of the air-conditioning unit before carrying on to grab the necessary clothes and make our way over to Polonnaruwa.
On arrival, we were greeted by a rather large monitor lizard, which I have to admit, looked creepy and scary at the time but seeing as no one else seemed bothered by them, I figured I didn’t need to be either. (I still kept a considerable distance away from them).
We started off at the Royal Palace…
…which is a lot bigger close up than it looks from far away!
Before you visit the ruins, you get to stop off at the museum where you can see what the Royal Palace would have looked like back in the day and it was very impressive!
And when you think of the fact that it was built almost a 1,000 years ago, it leaves you even more impressed.
The palace grounds spans for ages and would take a while to explore every bit of it so we did a quick lap around it and headed off in search for the next sight here…
Going past the Council Chamber (below)…
…making our way to Kumara Pokuna – the Royal Baths.
And boy what a grand bath it is too! 🙂 (Perhaps now you can start to see why I found Polonnaruwa so impressive).
After leaving the bath, we headed to explore the Council Chamber in more depth…
…where you should definitely look our for the engraved details on the ruins.
I was so fascinated by trying to see every little detail that I pretty much always had everyone else constantly waiting for me. Thing is, at this stage, I had no idea how much bigger the whole city was. Little did I know that it spanned for much further than we’d initially seen.
Our next stop was a temple which we’d seen on the drive in.
Again, I’m still very impressed by how well preserved all of these ruins are. This is definitely one thing about Sri Lanka that no one told me before I arrived. Not only is there so much rich and fascinating history, there’s also so much proof of it left! Some of these ruins have been discovered fairly recently (compared to say, Western Europe) and archaeologists still say that there’s still so much more to discover in Sri Lanka! Exciting times (and even more reason to return)!
We left the temple and headed to another section of the ancient city, the bit that is home to the Dalada Maluva, one of the most sacred sites in Polonnaruwa.
But more on that in the next part of this post! 🙂