Ancient ruins. Polonnaruwa temple. Sri Lanka
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Polonnaruwa Ruins


For three centuries Polonnaruwa was a royal capital of both the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms. Today's archaeological park is a delight to explore, with hundreds of ancient structures – tombs and temples, statues and stupas – in a sprawling forested core. Although nearly 1000 years old, it’s much younger than Anuradhapura and generally in better repair. You can see the site in a day, and the highlights in half a day.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Polonnaruwa attractions

1. Shiva Devale No 1

0.03 MILES

Just south of the Quadrangle, the 13th-century Hindu temple Shiva Devale No 1 displays the Indian influence that returned after Polonnaruwa’s Sinhalese…

2. Entrance to Ruins

0.04 MILES

This is where you will have your Polonnaruwa ticket checked, before entering the main site.

3. Thuparama Gedige

0.21 MILES

At the southern end of the Quadrangle, the Thuparama Gedige is the smallest gedige (hollow Buddhist temple with thick walls) in Polonnaruwa, but is also…

4. Atadage

0.21 MILES

A shrine for the tooth relic, the Atadage is the only surviving structure in Polonnaruwa dating from the reign of Vijayabahu I.

5. Latha-Mandapaya

0.21 MILES

The busy Nissanka Malla was responsible for the Latha-Mandapaya. This unique structure consists of a latticed stone fence – a curious imitation of a…

6. Quadrangle

0.21 MILES

A short stroll north of the Royal Palace ruins, the area known as the Quadrangle is literally that – a compact group of ruins in a raised-up area bounded…

7. Vatadage

0.21 MILES

In the southeast of the Quadrangle, the Vatadage (circular relic house) is typical of its kind. Its outermost terrace is 18m in diameter, and the second…

8. Audience Hall

0.22 MILES

Parakramabahu I’s Audience Hall is notable for the frieze of elephants, each of which is in a different pose. There are fine lions at the top of the steps.