After the end of a devastating civil war that lasted decades, the island of Sri Lanka is currently enjoying a tourist boom. Separated from the southern tip of India by the thinnest thread of water, the island is renowned for its stunning beaches, extensive tea plantations, vast forests and rich biodiversity. While ecotourism has become a major focus on the island, Sri Lanka also has a number of historical and cultural places of interest. In total, there are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the tropical island and all but two of them represent places of cultural and historical importance.
The historic city of Polonnaruwa was the first Sri Lankan landmark to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list along with the city of Sigirya in 1982. The city is a part of the North Central Province and is the site of the oldest of Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdoms after Anuradhapura. It was King Vijayabahu who is credited with shifting the capital to Polonnaruwa in 1070 CE after repelling the Chola invaders, although it is his grandson, Parakramabahu I, who is considered the saviour of the city as it only began to flourish under his reign.
Parakramabahu I considered water a divine gift and put in place a vast irrigation system to ensure that no drop goes wasted. Both agriculture and trade thrived and Polonnaruwa grew and became prosperous. The most popular remnant of the irrigation system is the Parakrama Samudraya, which translates to ‘The Sea of Parakrama’. Tourists should definitely consider stopping by this ancient city; in addition to the old ruins one can also visit the Lankatilaka Temple, Thuparama, the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, the Statue at Gal Vihara, the Medigirya Vatadage, and the Statue of Parakramabahu.
One advantage of visiting this island nation is its small size which allows tourists to visit all the major attractions in a short period of time. While public transport in metropolitan areas is quite developed it lags in more remote areas. For optimal comfort and minimal hassle tourists should consider renting a car. Malkey Rent a Car is a good option when it comes to Sri Lanka car rental. They are also a good choice for airport transfers Sri Lanka has to offer.
Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.