Polonnaruwa – yep, another Unesco World Heritage listed site – is a vast maze of ruins dating back to before 1070 AD. It is evidently the second most Ancient city in Sri Lanka.
After Anuradhapura was invaded by India, Polonnaruwa became the next capital so you can see the remnants of the King’s palace, the giant Stupas – one of the largest I’ve seen – temples, and the tooth relic.
We only had a couple of hours in Polonnaruwa, not nearly long enough to do the place justice, but long enough to get a sense of the city, it’s vast size, and to see the highlights.
Fortunately our driver, who was with us for our entire trip thanks to Amaya Lakes Resort, advised us not to get a guide and drove us to all the “must see” ruins.
The museum at the entrance is excellent. It gave us great context not just of this city, but also of Anuradhapura and Sigiriya.
The museum is quite vast, with lots of photos and scale models of what the relics would have looked like at their peak. It provides an interesting insight into the cultural, religious and political history of the country and a good insight into the cultural sites to visit.
Of course there are the usual touts here trying to sell you everything from stone monkeys to jewellery and postcards but they are not as abundant as in some other parts of the world and while persistent are generally pleasant enough.
You can hire bikes to ride around, which would be a lovely way to see the sites, but the day we were there it was incredibly hot.
It’s also worth noting many of the relics are religious sites and so you have to remove your shoes and walk around the stone paths in bare feet – it’s best to get there early before the stone has become too hot or perhaps wear socks – the ground gets incredibly hot in the sun.