The best things to do in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is a worldwide heritage delight. The town is full of assets to entertain those who enjoy the most the cultural elements of a place. Polonnaruwa is one of the three cities part of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, along with Sigiriya and Anuradhapura. The ancient city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. In this article we will explain to you the best things to do in Polonnaruwa.

The ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Probably, if you arrive in this city, it is because of your interest in the ancient city. After the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993, Polonnaruwa became the second capital of Sri Lanka and since then it is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. It comprises the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city built by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. 

The best things to do in Polonnaruwa

The quadrangle

In Polonnaruwa there is the so-called Quadrangle, a complex made up of historical ruins from the 11th to 13th centuries. It is a complex of large dimensions, which includes important buildings. Entrance to the ruin complex is expensive, 25 dollars at the moment (2022). They don’t accept Euros and you cannot pay by card. Let’s say that this kind of customer unfriendly manners always happens only in countries with high corruption indexes. 

Kumara Pokuna

The Bathing Pool known as Kumara Pokuna has a lotus island in the center and two of its prevailing crocodile-mouth fountains. It is located in the Royal residence grounds and is one of the must-do’s of your things to do in Polonnaruwa. The lush green all around the pool gives an incredible look to the pool.


It is a circular building of 18 meters in diameter. Formerly it housed the sacred tooth of Buddha, currently in Kandy. You will be able to climb to the top and observe various figures of the seated Buddha. You can also see several moonstones, which are semicircles carved into the ground that show the cycle of life according to Buddhism.

Lata Mandapaya

In Lata Mandapaya you will see several columns arranged in the shape of a lotus flower. In the center, there is a small dagoba. Dagobas are typical Buddhist buildings in Sri Lanka.

King Parakramabahu Palace

We speak about a palace of 10 meters tall, one-meter thick wall palace, with 55 rooms. King Parakramabahu built it in the eleventh century. Archeological unearthing has found that upper floors of this tall building were made of wood and polished with unpredictable wood carvings. Currently there is not much to see but the visitor can get a quick idea about how magnificent the building was in the past. 

Rankot Vihara

This place is an enormous dagaba of 54 meters height, standing still in very good condition. It’s the biggest dagaba in the town. It is difficult to miss it since it is in the archaeological part of the ancient city. Because of that you will be able to visit it calmly with not lots of people around.

Gal Vihara

The Gal Vihara, also known as rock-monastery, is a temple built on a rock, famous for its Buddhas. This building was built in the 12th century by Parakramabahu I. It is famous, above all, for its images of Buddha. It has four giant sculptures of Buddha carved in stone. One of the most remarkable sculptures is a 15 meter long lying Buddha.

More things to do in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is located in a very rich territory. There are many things to do around Polonnaruwa. There are cultural and natural spots nearby. Check here some of your options:  

Where to stay in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is a tourist destination with plenty of options for your vacations. Check on our map which are the most suitable for you!

Enjoy our discounts in the place

Dear Traveller, hope you liked the latest article from Besides the Obvious! If you would not like to miss any of our travel stories, destination ideas, don’t forget to subscribe!

2 Replies to “The best things to do in Polonnaruwa”

    1. We spent a great time there regardless the sad crisis the country is still facing. We hope that will be over soon. Sri Lanka deserves the best luck. Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: