Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura

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Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura


I recently published a blog post titled “Sigiriya or Kandy?” I was inspired to compose that article after receiving a few emails from readers who were unsure which pace to take for their vacation. Likewise, the article’s title, “Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa,” is strikingly similar. A substantial volume of emails is received from readers across the globe, and a subset of those emails specifically addresses the question, “Should we travel to Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa?”
The following are some inquiries that our readers pose: “What are the operating hours of Polonnaruwa?” “What is the dress code for Polonnaruwa?” “Is it worthwhile to visit Polonnaruwa?” “What is the distance between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa?” “Is it worthwhile to visit Anuradhapura?”
Tourists with a limited amount of time to spend in Sri Lanka frequently have questions in this category, whereas others, even those with plenty of time, prefer to stick to just one or two places while on vacation and set aside some time for relaxation. Certain generations of travellers and families, aged 60 to 70, prefer to cover little ground during their journeys.
Consequently, the purpose of this discourse is to assist you in determining whether Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa merits your time. Both locations have been on my itinerary numerous times, and I find them to be equally intriguing. Each of these locations contains an abundance of historical landmarks.

Is a visit to Anuradhapura worthwhile?

Due to the fact that it is an archaeological menagerie that displays the engineering prowess of individuals from several millennia ago, I believe it is worthwhile to pay a visit. For instance, Abhayagiriya Gadoba (stupa, pagoda) remains an awe-inspiring edifice, and its original dimensions were considerably more expansive. During King Walagambhu’s second reign (89-77 BC), he constructed Abhayagiri Daboba, which stood at a height of 115 metres and was one of the most imposing structures of its era.
Anuradhapura, an archaeological city, is replete with such magnificent structures; among them, Jetawanarama stands out as the second largest brick structure of antiquity. Delightful structures abound in the city, with the majority of them continuing to be venerated and respected by their devotees. Additional locations that we highly recommend to seasoned travellers include Twin Pond, Samadhi Buddha, Thuparama dagoba (3rd century BC), Lankarama, Isurumuniya, Moonstone, Sri Maha Bodhi, and Guard Stone. Visiting each of these locations could potentially consume approximately five hours due to their extensive geographical dispersion.

Is a visit to Anuradhapura worthwhile?

Anuradhapura, an expansive metropolis, is partitioned into three significant zones: the Jetawanarama complex, the Abhyagiri Monastery complex, and the Mahavihara complex. Each temple complex was characterised by its extensive size and variety of facilities, including monastic quarters, Buddhist learning centres, stupas or pagodas, hospitals (Ayurveda), auditoriums, parks, meditation centres, and libraries.

Is a visit to Polonnaruwa worthwhile?

I have visited the Polonnaruwa historical site on multiple occasions, and it is highly recommended that you pay a visit if you have an interest in Sri Lankan history and culture. The Polonnaruwa archaeological site conceals dozens of intriguing structures, including lakes, palaces, Hindu shrines, and audience halls, among others.
The historical city of Polonnaruwa is typically visited from the vicinity of the Parakrama palace, an edifice that was devastated as a result of the south Indian invasion. Aside from audience chambers, the Parakrama palace is located within the city’s core, where few other structures can be found. One beholds magnificently conserved structures, commencing from the Parakrama Palace and culminating in the Gal Vihara at the far end of the historical city of Polonnaruwa. Unlike Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is a more recent location, which accounts for the better condition of its monuments. In contrast, the quantity of monuments in Polonnaruwa is considerably diminished in comparison to that of Anuradhapura, and the monument complex in Anuradhapura occupies a considerably larger area than that of Polonnaruwa.

What does the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa tour entail?

Both Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are locations that are associated with the study of Sri Lankan history. In contrast, the age of the historical monuments varies considerably. While the dilapidated structures of Anuradhapura date back several thousand years, certain edifices, including the Abhyagiri dagoba (pagoda or stupa) and Ruwanweli dagoba, were constructed prior to the birth of Christus.
Monuments in Polonnaruwa are considerably more recent in construction than those in Anuradhapura. The majority of Polonnaruwa’s historical monuments were constructed between the 10th and 11th centuries AD, while the majority of Anuradhapura’s historical structures were constructed between the 3rd and 10th centuries BC.

Historical Museums

In addition to exploring monuments, museum visits are crucial for comprehending the historical background of Sri Lanka. Although both locations feature museums, the Anuradhapura museum is considerably less well-organized than its Polonnaruwa counterpart. The Polonnaruwa museum‘s artefacts are considerably better organised and provide a clearer image of the ancient structures that can be observed at the location. The invasion of the Parakrama palace, for instance, reduced it to its foundation and a few walls; it had been a seven-story structure at its height. By paying a visit to the museum prior to entering the historical city, one can observe a scale model of the Parakrama palace, which makes it effortless to comprehend the palace’s immense magnitude.

Comparison between Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura


Anuradhapura                                                               Polonnaruwa

From 3rd century BC to 10 century AD                       10-11 century AD

Monuments are older                                                   the monuments are younger

Spreads over huge area                                               spreads over small area

Many dozens of monument                                        Number of monuments less

Lot of ground to cover need a vehicle                      can explore by foot, bile of vehicle

The city tour lasts about 4-5 hours                            City tour lasts about 2-3 hours

Reaching out to Anuradhapura

The distance between Colombo and Anuradhapura is 200 kilometres, the drive in a private vehicle takes approximately four hours. Air and rail transportation options are also accessible to those who desire to visit Anuradhapura. Trains destined for Anuradhapura depart from the mail railway station located in Colombo. To reach Anuradhapura from Colombo or the airport, one may reserve a seaplane or helicopter; the destination would be the domestic airport of Anuradhapura.

Reaching out to Polonnaruwa

The primary means of transportation to access the Polonnaruwa monuments is by road. The private vehicle voyage from Colombo to Polonnaruwa, which is 220 kilometres long, takes approximately five hours. Air and rail conveyance can both be reserved from Colombo. Polonnaruwa is accessible by three trains per day from Colombo. Polonnaruwa-bound flights depart Colombo twice daily.

Distance from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa

Customers occasionally inquire whether Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa can be covered in a single day. The answer is primarily determined by the site of departure of the journey and can be either YES or NO. You can visit both Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in a single day if you embark on the excursion from a location such as Sigiriya or Habarana. Travelling from a distant location such as Colombo or Kandy, however, would impede the opportunity to visit both locales owing to the considerable duration of transportation. A hotel situated in close proximity to either Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa would provide an ideal base from which to explore both locations, as the distance between the two is barely over 100 kilometres and the driving time is approximately two hours.

Other activites that can be done in Anuradhapura, polonnaruwa

While most visitors to these cities anticipate visiting significant historical monuments, there are a few other worthwhile activities that you may wish to partake in if time permits. A few of the available activities include village tours, wildlife safaris and visits to national parks, Ayurvedic massages, cooking classes, village lake boating, temple visits, jungle trekking, and bird viewing.
Hopefully, after contemplating the aforementioned factors, you are now able to determine whether your Sri Lankan tour itinerary will include Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa. Should you require further information regarding Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, please feel at liberty to reach out to us at admin@seerendipitytoiurs.com.