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Ancient ruins at Polonnaruwa - A view from our expert author


statue standing amongst ruins polonnaruwa sri lanka by Calvste shutterstockA statue standing amongst the ruins at Polonnaruwa © Calvste, Shutterstock

Once the fortified capital of the 11th and 12th centuries, this ruined city boasts more than 30 historical buildings.

Compared with the sombre atmosphere of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa in ruins is rather refreshing, helped by the freshness provided by the large lake, known as the ‘Sea of Parakrama’. The ruins are also better preserved, being of a much later date. The ruined city was the capital from the beginning of the 11th century, after Anuradhapura was destroyed by the Cholas from southern India. It reached a brief zenith in the 12th century before being ravaged by invaders. In its prime the city, encircled by 6km of strong walls, was inhabited by hundreds of people. Now it is the preserve of monkeys and birds, interrupted by archaeologists and curious visitors.

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