Polonnaruwa, is a World Heritage Site comprising of ancient ruins of monuments built by the Cholas and those of the magnificent garden-city created by king Parakramabahu I. This period was considered the golden age of Polonnaruwa in the 12th century. The site holds outstanding ruins of the Royal Palace, the Audience Hall, Gal Viharaya, frescoes and colossal statues of reclining Buddhas. Other interesting features include a statue believed to be that of King Parakramabahu and the expansive Parakrama Samudraya reservoir extending as far as the eye can see.
The old city on the shores of Lake Thopawewa had been made with manual labour alone, a formidable task in the 12 th century. The rectangular city wall holds the remains of the ancient city with its numerous palaces and temples. One can view the well preserved foundations of the royal palace and the king’s audience hall. Irrigation systems coming down from the times of kings supply water till today for paddy cultivation. An outstanding site in Polonnaruwa is the Galviharaya known as the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge. Set against the natural environment, it carries giant standing and reclining sculptures of the Buddha carved out of natural rock and is an ideal place for meditation. Walking through this awe-inspiring ancient city ruins, one cannot but wonder what its real state must have been in ancient times