Day Tour to Safari & the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. Visit the second most ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka. A site with enormous Buddha sculptures, stupas and rich in history and architecture. The irrigation systems that are far superior to that of the Anuradhapura Age and to this day supply the water essential for paddy cultivation. The toque macaque, which is the breed of monkeys living in the ruins have been thriving in this kingdom for centuries. They were featured in the Disney’s nature film entitled Monkey Kingdom.
Minneriya National Park was originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary so as to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance. It was built by King Mahasen in third century AD. A great number of elephants are attracted to grass fields of the reservoir during the dry season. The national park’s faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies. The park is also an important habitat for the two endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka: purple-faced langur and toque macaque. Additionally, you may catch sight of the sambar deer and axis deer, leopard and the sloth gray slender loris.
Watadage is a type of Buddhist structure that is more or less unique to the architecture of ancient Sri Lanka that may have some Indian influence. Watadages were built around small stupas for its protection. Often enshrined in the stupa is a relic. Circular in shape, they were commonly constructed from stone and brick and adorned with elaborate stone carvings. Watadages may have also had a wooden roof, supported by a number of stone columns arranged in several concentric rows. Only ten Watadages now remain in Sri Lanka. The builders of many of these monuments are unknown, as are their time of creation. The oldest of such construction is believed to be the one surrounding the Thuparamaya. The best form of a Watadage is generally believed to be the Polonnaruwa Watadage.
Atadage Dalada Maligaya was built by King Vijayabahu I (1070-1110). This is where the sacred tooth relic of Buddha was housed previously. The building is built on 54 stone pillars and the tooth relic was kept on the second floor. The access to the second floor is through a granite stair case. Few steps of the stairs that still remain, led to the upper chamber of the building. There were three Buddha statues at the bottom but only the center one remains as of today. “Ata” in Atadage means eight. It is believed that this building was called this name probably because it used to house eight relics including the sacred tooth relic or because it was completed in eight days. The moonstone has been brought from Anuradhapura to be placed here. On the left side of this building is the “Velikkara” inscription stone which is of significance. It is written in the Tamil language and explaining that the tooth relic was protected by a hired Tamil army and not by the Sinhalese.
The Gal Viharaya, is a rock temple situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The central feature of the temple is four rock relief statues of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granite rock. These are considered to be some of the best examples of ancient Sinhalese sculpting and carving arts. It has a significantly different style from the previous Anuradhapura period. This is where Parakramabahu I held a congregation of monks to purify the Buddhist priesthood, and later drew up a code of conduct which has been recorded in an inscription on the same rock face containing the images of the Buddha.
I would like to take some time to get to know your travelling style and preferences. If you like to move fast to cover as many places as possible or prefer to take it slow & easy and spend more time at certain locations.