Polonnaruwa Day Tour

Being the second-largest kingdom in Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa has much in store for archaeologists, history lovers, and those who simply want to learn more about Sri Lanka. Today, the city is one of the best planned archaeological relic sites across the country, standing as evidence of the greatness and discipline of the first rulers of Polonnaruwa. UNESCO declared Polonnaruwa as a World Heritage site, thereby making it a popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

When you visit Polonnaruwa, you will see why it is one of the most beautiful and green cities in the country. It is home to stunning ancient constructions hospitable people, the huge man-made lake from 1200 A.C. (Parakrama Samudraya), the stone colossal statue of Buddha and the Lankathilaka Temple.

Religious Significance of Polonnaruwa

Groups of Buddhist pilgrims visit Polonnaruwa for its ruins, temples, stupas and Hindu Kovils.

• Rankot Vihara – largest stupa in the city at 180 ft high.

• Lankathilaka Gedige – built during Parakramabahu’s reign.

• Kiri Vihara – was surrounded by forests; rediscovered in the 19th century.

• Shiva Devale – Hindu Temple built in the 13th century.

History of Polonnaruwa

When the armies of the Tamil Cholas invaded and looted Anuradhapura in AD 993, Polonnaruwa became the country’s capital and remained so for 77 years. From its outlook, Polonnaruwa has a cosmopolitan mix of cultures – Indian Hindu and Sinhalese Buddhist. In 1073, King Vijayabahu drove the Cholas away but kept Polonnaruwa as his capital city. For the next forty years, bloody civil war continued and King Vijayabahou dies in 1161. King Parakramabahu then captured Polonnaruwa, assuming he uithen controlled the entire island nation. He was known as the last great king of Sri Lanka as a result of the series of building works and expansion in Polonnaruwa.
In 1293, Sri Lanka was taken over by the armed forces of South India, abandoning Polonnaruwa to the jungle.

Strategic importance

Known as a camp city, Polonaruwa was a safe hideout for armies, thereby giving it the name ‘Kandavuru Nuvara’. The city stretched for several kilometers along the east of the majestic reservoir – Parakrama Samudra, and was protected by 6kms of durable encircling walls.

At a glance

Is this day tour for me?

Polonnaruwa is a mandatory destination for anyone who is interested in Sri Lanka tourism, particularly for those in the field of history and archeology. It is one of the cities in the cultural triangle and can be explored by bicycle to make it more fun!

Can it be tailor-made?

Yes, this Polonnaruwa day tour itinerary can be customized according to your requirements.

When to go

Polonnaruwa is in the dry zone and has tourist-friendly sunshine all year round. According to observations regarding the weather in Polonnaruwa, it has been noted that the latter part of the year sees a significant drop in hot and humid temperatures. Regardless, a Polonnaruwa day tour is a must on your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary.


Hotel – Tour – Drop

Things you will do

Explore the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa (by foot or bicycle)

Undertake religious blessings at the Ancient Gal Viharaya

Enjoy an authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry meal at the famous Piyumali House

Catamaran ride in Parakrama Samudra.

Places you will visit

Polonnaruwa Museum
Polonnaruwa Museum

To discover the protected ruins that are fenced off to an archaeological site, slightly north of the modern-day town. Worth the visit for insightful displays of life in the ancient capital and some exclusive exhibits.

Polonnaruwa Day Tour Banner
The Quadrangle

The Dalada Maluwa (Terrace of the Tooth Relic) is located at the heart of the ancient city and is known as the Quadrangle. It was the sacred precinct of ancient Polonnaruwa and was the most important of the cluster of religious shrines. The Quadrangle is a cleverly designed circular shrine with carved outer walls and elaborate moonstones at each of the four entrances.

Lankathiklake Viharaya
The Lankathilaka

An image house with impressive walls soaring to a height of 55 ft, enclosing a large, headless Buddha statue that is squashed inside the high, narrow space.

Gal Vihara Buddha Statue
Gal Vihara

Four Buddha statues are located here, chopped out of granite cliff face. Gal Vihara is the peak of ancient Sri Lanka’s rock-carved art. A majestic 46 ft reclining Buddha is the highlight here: a figure so beautiful that it inspired centuries of Sinhalese art.

As experienced on Instagram

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Real people, real views

How they experienced it

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Not to miss in this tour

Carved walls of the Quadrangle.

Recovered Chola bronzes at the Polonnaruwa museum.

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