For an excellent day’s cycling in Sri Lanka, the ancient world heritage city of Polonnaruwa is a perfect choice as it offers here tens of glorious ruins of ancient temples and shrines scattered all around the area eagerly waiting to be explored.
Cycling this ancient city around was high on my anticipated list but the thought of cycling here initially was a bit of concern looking at the tuk-tuk drivers occupying the road. But Knocking it off the list was the right choice as this is the best way to see the ruins of Polonnaruwa!
Even with good roads and plenty of leafy spots with refreshing local drinks almost at every entrance, cycling here is great fun to enrich with the historical treasures of Sri Lanka.
Looking at the gigantic statues at the ruins, one thing will surely spring up in your mind. How exciting this ancient history of Sinhalese culture could be! Being a key part of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, This UNESCO World Heritage site was the second capital of Sri Lanka and home to Sri Lankan royalty and the Sacred Tooth Relic. This erstwhile Kingdom was established by King Vijayabahu in the late 11th Century after defeating the Cholas. Eventually, Polonnaruwa was ruled by three prominent Sri Lankan Sinhalese monarchs: Vijayabahu, Parakramabahu I, and Nissanka Malla. This city prospered under the reign of King Parakramabahu, who believed in unifying Sri Lanka and subsequently expanded the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa while building magnificent temples, palaces, pools, and a comprehensive irrigation system which is still in use today. This history gets exciting looking at the ruins with close proximity.
Cycling here gives a perfect medium and the most preferred way to traverse the area but do watch out for the monkeys and grey langurs. These cheeky inhabitants are much popular among travelers for being mischievous at times. They say a monkey ran up a tree with a traveler’s passport! Now you should be cautious!
Though every ruin is a treasure exploring but the Royal Palace Complex - shaped like lotus stems, The book Library - the oldest library in Sri Lanka, Palace Complex of King Parakramabahu - Once a 1000 room palace spread over 7 levels is now just a remnant of past, Sacred Quadrangle - believed to house the tooth relic of the Buddha, Two Stupas in excellent condition, Buddha Image House and an incredibly impressive collection of 4 massive Buddhas each carved from one long granite slab are some of the masterpieces of Sri Lanka Buddhist art and were commissioned by Parakramabahu the Great.
Two things you need to keep in mind! Avoid taking photos of people standing with their backs against Buddha statues and enter holy places inside the complex barefooted. It violates the sanctity of the sacred sites.