Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was my last stop in the Cultural Triangle. I had no more time for archaeological sites and the North of the country was really hot.

During the Xth century, South Indian Chola Dinasty conquered Anuradhapura and chose Polonnaruwa as their new capital city in Sri Lanka. Its kings built huge buildings, temples to commemorate their conquests and extended parks to embellish the city.

Exploring Polonnaruwa was easier than Anuradhapura because the archaeological site is more compact. It has also more different kind of sights.

My visit started at the museum, which is also the place to buy the tickets for the archaeological site. This museum is an excellent introduction to the site where each room is dedicated to a particular area of Polonnaruwa. I enjoyed especially the models trying to reconstruct the temples and main structures of the site and the artifacts of that period found around. After the museum, I negotiated a tuk tuk for two hours, which was enough time to visit the main sights.

After the impressive royal palace and few administration buildings and ponds, I visited the area called “the Quadrangle”. This is a compact area containing the most fascinating temples of the ancient city. My favourite one was the Vatadage (a circular relic house) with four entrances decorated with sculpted guardstones and moonstones leading to four Buddhas and a central dagoba (or stupa). The ensemble is really beautiful and I really took my time to admire the serene Buddhas and the elaborated stone decoration.

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Just in front of the Vatadage there is the Hatadage, a tooth relic chamber. It was used to host the sacred tooth of Buddha during Polonnaruwa hey- days. The only standing Buddha at the bottom of the chamber is really beautiful between all those columns.

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Even if I was short of time I could not miss the Gal Vihara, a group of four Buddha images all cut from the same granite slab. The most impressive one is the 14m reclining image of the Buddha entering parinirvana. I found his head, gently laid on the pillow, and the expression of his face very sweet.

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At noon I was back to the guesthouse, ready to take another bus to my next destination. This time I arrived to Kandy with the (heavy) rain.

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