Polonnaruwa- Ruins, Buddhas and Monkeys!!!

Trip Start Aug 07, 2013
Trip End Aug 22, 2013

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, August 17, 2013

After Dambulla, Sigiriya and Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa was our last stop in the cultural triangle before heading down to Ella.  Luckily we were able to fit it all in, but it did mean a few hours in the car. 

Polonnaruwa, an ancient royal city, was a cool place to stop and look round. Although not as spaced out and vast as Anuradhapura, it was still great to have our driver take us to the main stops so we could walk around and explore. Without that, it would have been a whole day's worth of sites all without shade! 

Among the ruins are pagodas, lotus pools, royal palace gates, temples and houses but it's easy to see the main attractions are the 3 buddhas (including the huge lying-down buddha). Protected by shelters that have been built around them, you have to remove your shoes (customary for temples) and walk towards the 3 buddhas across the gravelly ground which will scorch your soles thanks to the 32 degree heat! But it's worth the singe. These buddhas are beautiful, simple carvings and they're huge so it's easy to spend 20 minutes just looking at them. Unlike in the pagodas at Anuradhapura and some of the Dambulla caves, there are no gaudy/bright colourings. These, combined with the single statue at Gal Vihariya (also part of Polonnaruwa) make the place worth a visit. 

Costs are in line with the other cultural triangle sites, 2000 rupees for each foreign adult (10). Covered shoulders, bare feet and modesty are expected as you wander around, as well as no photos with backs to buddhas which is considered disrespectful. Even in the remote parts of the site, guides sit next to each buddhas to ensure these customs are observed. 

Wandering out of the site, we were surrounded by families of monkeys meandering and strolling to find food, from tiny babies to massive adults. Our discarded king coconut, put down at a table before entering the path to the buddhas, was swiped and ferried away by one monkey who went unnoticed by his friends and had himself a feast whilst the rest battled over bananas. It was a surreal encounter!


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