Polonnnaruwa, 216 km from Colombo
, was the capital of Sri Lanka
during the medieval period ( 11 c – 13c). Anuradhapura
remained as capital for about 15 centuries.
With the growth of South Indian
Empires and frequent invasions by them ,
was no longer safe as the Capital of
the Sinhala Kings. It was because of this that Capitals started moving to the
south. The first capital after Anuradhapura
was Polonnaruwa. After a few centuries
capitals started to move further southward.
Capitals changed from one city to another very fast. Sri Lankan historians call this the
“southward drift “ - shifting of
capitals to the south of Sri
Lanka. Polonnaruwa remained as the capital
of Sri Lanka for the longest
period during this post Anuradhapura
era. While a large number of the places of historical and archeological
interest are scattered over a very wide area at Anuradhapura ,
at Polonnaruwa a large number of
such places are found within a
very small locality.
Satue of King Parakramabahu
Polonnaruwa goes back to 2c BCE.
Historians are of the view the first inhabitants of Sri Lanka is considered to be the area
in which such pre historic
tribes had settled down. Habarana forest is considered to be the area in
which of ‘Sabara’ tribe had lived
in. ‘Sabara’ is the ancient name given
to present day ‘Vedda’ community . The
name ‘Habarana ‘ is considered to
have derived out of the word ‘Sabara” ,
people who were inhabiting around Habarana during pre historic times. Out of
pre historic settlements as well as cemeteries found in Sri Lanka,
the largest number is found in the North Central
Province. Similarly ‘Veddas’ who are considered to be
the descendents of pre historic tribes
live in this region even today.
These appear to confirm the view of historians that the earliest human
settlements in Sri Lanka
were in the North central province in which Polonnaruwa is situated in. consisted of pre historic
tribes. Habrana which is situated close to Polonnaruwa
as well as inscriptions of the Polonnaruwa period refer to Polonnaruwa as
‘Pulasthipura’ or ‘Pulathisipura’. This
name was given to Polonnaruwa in honor of the ancient ‘Rishi’ called
is the main occupation of those residing at Polonnruwa from very ancient times.
Most of the residents of Polonnaruwa at
present , are colonists settled by the Government under several irrigation
schemes. Polonnaruwa being a historic city with many ruins of archaeological interest,
thousands of local as well as foreign tourists
visit Polonnaruwa annually . Polonnaruwa
became a capital city only in the 11th century; therefore
the works of Polonnauwa are preserved
quite well. Since the places of interest at Polonnaruwa are situated
within a small area, one could see them within a few hours.
important events of world history took
place during the Polonnaruwa period. These include the birth of prophet Mohammed, the beginning
of the dark ages in Europe and the
reign of the kings of Wan dynasty of China.
King Parakramabahu, the Great is considered as the greatest king of
the Polonnaruwa period. His services extended to almost every aspect of human
life of that time . His reign brought about vast changes to the economy,
administration, culture, religion etc.
However his greatest work is considered to be ‘ Parakrama Samudraya ” (
the sea of Parakrama), the tank he built
by joining tanks called Giritale Wewa , Thopa Wewa and Kaudulu Wewa. It is generally
accepted that the country was very prosperous during his reign. What is
startling is that there is no record of building a tank by a Sri Lankan king
for the next seven hundred years. Polonnaruwa period therefore is considered as
a very prosperous period of Sri Lankan history.
The tanks in and around Polonnaruwa are as follows:
- Mahagalkadawala wewa
- Magala wewa
- Kantale wewa
- Parakrama Samudraya
- Siyambalagamu wewa
- Kawdulu wewa
- Maha Vilachchiya wewa
- Panikkan kulam wewa
- Hurulu wewa
- Giritale wewa
Old City of