Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa bears witness to several civilizations, notably that of the conquering Cholas, disciples of Brahminism, and that of the Sinhalese sovereigns during the 12th and 13th centuries. This immense capital created by the megalomaniac sovereign, Parakramabahu I, in the 12th century, is one of history's most astonishing urban creations, both because of its unusual dimensions and because of the very special relationship of its buildings with the natural setting. It is also a shrine of Buddhism and of Sinhalese history. The tooth of the Lord Buddha, a remarkable relic placed in the Atadage under Vijabayahu, was considered as the talisman of the Sinhalese monarchy: its removal by Bhuvanaikabahu II confirmed the decline of Polonnaruwa.

After the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993 by Rajaraja, Polonnaruwa, a temporary royal residence during the 8th century, became the capital. The conquering Cholas constructed monuments to their religion (Brahmnism), and especially temples to Shiva where fine bronze statues, today in the Museum of Colombo, were found. The reconquest of Ceylon by Vijayabahu I did not put an end to the city's role as capital: it became covered, after 1070, with Buddhist sanctuaries, of which the Atadage (Temple of the Tooth Relic) is the most renowned.

 

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Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura has been made royal capital by the king Pandukabhaya in 380 BC. It remained residence and royal capital for 119 successive Singhalese kings till the year 1000 AD when it was abandoned and the capital moved to Polonnaruwa. You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest dagoba of Sri Lanka, remains from palaces, temples, monasteries, ceremonial baths and the temple of the holy Bo-tree. This tree was grown from a sapling of the very tree under which more than 2500 years ago the Buddha found enlightenment.

With the dawn of the second century BC, adventurers from across the Palk Strait had begun to settle down in the northern coast. One such intruder called Elara, became supreme in almost whole of the North and reigned from Anuradhapura. He was later challenged by the ruler Gemunu, son of King Kavantissa. Later this independent ruler, Gemunu of the South met in combat with Elara and the latter was killed. For the first time a single kingdom for the island arose. Dutugemunu's reign saw the culmination of Buddhism Dutugemunu (161-137 BC) contributed immensely for the religion of Buddhism. Anuradhapura Kingdom lasted one thousand and five hundred years. Despite the intrusions and clashes of South Indian Chola, Pandyan and Pallava, there prevailed stability in the continuity of the Anuradhapura civilisation. Due to the strong diplomatic relations among the countries like Rome and China, in first century AD. Fa-Hsien visited Sri Lanka. And in seventh century, Hisuen T'sang regretted his failure of his attempt to reach Sri Lanka.

 

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