• Polonnaruwa


Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka

The venerable city of Polonnaruwa was once the capital of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa and the Cholas people. Today, it’s famed as one of the best planned and most majestic of Sri Lanka’s relic cities. This historic city is a treasure trove of artefacts reminiscent of a Golden Age in Sri Lanka’s history and one of the country’s most beloved UNESCO World Heritage sites.

An archaeological gem

Visitors to the old city are first greeted by the imposing walls of what remains of the Royal Palace and the intricate elephant carvings of its Audience Hall. Further into the historic city, the ruins become more religious in nature: odes to the former inhabitants’ beliefs, with many Buddhist Dagba temples and giant Buddhist statues, concentrating at the Sacred Quadrangle.

Ancient Polonnaruwa is a time capsule of Sri Lanka’s past, a once beautiful and vibrant capital city with design and splendour fitting of a capital in its prime. Although the streets have been reclaimed by nature, and its inhabitants toque macaques, there is something irrepressibly majestic about the city.

Six kilometres from the ruins, the city has also developed the thriving “New Town” – renowned for its cleanliness and beauty, and the expansive Parakrama Samudra reservoir.

Top Tips from our Experts


Destination Manager

“Basing yourself in the new town of Polonnaruwa for a few days gives you excellent access to a number of local sites beyond the UNESCO city ruins, all just a short tuk-tuk ride away.”


Senior Destination Manager

“When visiting the Vatadage, remember to remove hats and shoes before entering, and follow the local practice of strolling clockwise around the monument.”