Polonnaruwa

Travel Guide
Polonnaruwa

Discover the sublime array of Buddhist art and architecture decorating this ancient town. Then go elephant spotting at glorious national parks.

The temples, palaces and statues of Polonnaruwa epitomize the majestic beauty of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. Step back in time to the 12th century, when Polonnaruwa was the nation’s medieval capital and a flourishing center for trade and religion. Marvel at shrines celebrating the Buddhist and Hindu faiths. Enjoy the city’s picturesque setting on the shores of two reservoirs framed by national parks teeming with wildlife.

The Polonnaruwa Museum is a good place to start your visit. Here purchase tickets for the archaeological ruins. Find displays portraying life during the city’s golden age. Learn about the three ruling kings: Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu I and Nissanka Malla. See examples of exquisite Shiva sculptures.

Go to the Quadrangle, which shelters the finest ensemble of ruins. Among these is the circular-shaped Vatadage, supposedly built to house the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Nearby are the 13th-century Shiva Devale No. 1 temple and the Chola-era Shiva Devale No. 2 temple. Walk south along the waterfront to see a group of columns that once supported the Royal Palace.

North of the Quadrangle lie the city’s most imposing landmarks, including the Alahana Pirivena, Menik Vihara and Rankoth Vihara temples. Gaze up at the large stupa of the Jetavana monastery. Admire the four rock-hewn Buddha statues at Gal Vihara temple. Note the ecclesiastical-like aspects of the enormous Lankatilaka Temple.

After exploring the sights, walk along the water’s edge of Parakrama Samudra reservoir. King Parakramabahu I created it to supply water to the city and to protect his kingdom from invaders.

Polonnaruwa’s location in the Hill Country makes it an excellent base for wildlife adventures, most notably spotting Asian elephants. Drive to Kaudulla National Park or Minneriya National Park within a 1-hour drive north or to Wasgamuwa National Park in a 2-hour drive south.

Polonnaruwa is about 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Colombo. Get here via long-distance buses and trains. Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Kandy, Sigiriya and other towns in the Cultural Triangle are all reachable by bus.

Tishan Holiday Resort
Tishan Holiday Resort
3 out of 5
No: 1580, Bendiwewa, Polonnaruwa, North Central Province
The price is $16 per night from Dec 11 to Dec 11
Situated in Polonnaruwa, this resort is within 3 mi (5 km) of Parakrama Samudra, Hatadage, and Kiri Vihara Temple. Lankatilaka Temple and Gal Viharaya are also ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (16 reviews)
"The food and staff were amazing. The grounds are beautiful too. The rooms are ok"

Reviewed on Dec 25, 2019

Tishan Holiday Resort
EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa
EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa
3.5 out of 5
Pothgula Mawatha, Polonnaruwa, North Central Province
The price is $130 per night from Nov 28 to Nov 28
Situated on the waterfront, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, and Nissanka Latha Mandapaya. Pabula ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (43 reviews)
"Had a good time and I wish if you had more vegetarian options as I am vegan. Hopefully next time😊"

Reviewed on Mar 18, 2020

EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa
Hotel Sudu Araliya
Hotel Sudu Araliya
3.5 out of 5
New Town, Polonnaruwa, North Central Province
The price is $93 per night from Dec 3 to Dec 3
This family-friendly Polonnaruwa hotel is located in the historical district, within 2 mi (3 km) of Parakrama Samudra and Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum. ...
3.4/5 Good! (37 reviews)
"Beautiful property. Air conditioning is okay. Dinner is very good."

Reviewed on Dec 1, 2019

Hotel Sudu Araliya
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Back of Beyond - Pidurangala
Back of Beyond - Pidurangala
3 out of 5
Kurulu Uyana, Pidurangala, Sigiriya, Dambulla
The price is $55 per night from Nov 28 to Nov 28
Situated in a rural location, this villa is within 1 mi (2 km) of Pidurangala Rock and Ancient City of Sigiriya. Sigiriya Museum and Minneriya National Park ...
4.6/5 Wonderful! (31 reviews)
exactly what we wanted
"Totally perfect. Just what we were looking for - bush, close to both rocks, near to town, fabulous staff,great food,comfy tree house ."

Reviewed on Feb 25, 2020

Back of Beyond - Pidurangala
Lakes Edge Holiday Bungalow
Lakes Edge Holiday Bungalow
Polonnaruwa, North Central Province
Situated in Polonnaruwa, this vacation home is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Parakrama Samudra and within 3 mi (5 km) of Hatadage and Kiri Vihara Temple. Lankatilaka ...
Lakes Edge Holiday Bungalow
Roo Mansala Boutique Villas
Roo Mansala Boutique Villas
2.5 out of 5
Thalkote, \N, Dambulla, Central Province
Situated in Sigiriya, this villa is within 1 mi (2 km) of Sigiriya Museum and Ancient City of Sigiriya. Pidurangala Rock is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) away.
4.5/5 Wonderful! (8 reviews)
A 4-Star Boutique Hotel in the Jungles
"We had a wonderful time at this hotel. It only has six rooms, but the quality of the hotel, the rooms, the food and the location was outstanding. My husband wanted to climb the Pidurangala Rock, and this place was so convenient to get to all the attractions as it is centrally located. Staff was so ..."

Reviewed on May 1, 2021

Roo Mansala Boutique Villas
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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