Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura

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Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura

I recently wrote a blog post titled “Sigiriya or Kandy?” in response to several questions from readers who were undecided about which place to visit during their Sri Lankan vacation. This article’s title, “Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa,” is quite similar. I receive a lot of letters from people all across the world, and some of them specifically ask, “Should we visit Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura?”
The following are some queries we receive from readers: “What are the opening hours and dress code for Polonnaruwa?” “Is Polonnaruwa worth visiting?” “How far is it from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa?” and “Is Anuradhapura worth visiting?”
These kinds of inquiries are frequently made by tourists who have a tight schedule for their trip to Sri Lanka, while some travellers prefer to spend as little time travelling as possible and limit their vacation to one or two destinations while saving some time for leisure. On their travels, several families and tourists in their 60s and 70s always want to avoid covering a lot of territory.
Thus, my goal is to assist you in choosing between visiting Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Having visited both locations numerous times, I found both to be equally fascinating. They both have a considerable number of historical monuments.

Is a trip to Anuradhapura worthwhile?

Since it is an archaeological zoo that displays the engineering prowess of humans who lived several thousand years ago, I think it is worthwhile to see. For example, the stupas at Abhayagiriya temple are magnificent even in modern times, yet they were formerly considerably larger than they are now. Abhayagiri Daboba, which stood 115 feet tall during King Walagambhu’s second reign (89–77 BC), was one of the biggest buildings at the time.
The historic city of Anuradhapura is home to numerous magnificent buildings of this type. Among these is Jetawanarama, which was formerly the largest brick building in history. Numerous intriguing structures of this kind can be seen around the city, and the majority of their followers continue to honour and revere them. Other locations that we suggest for seasoned travellers are Twin Pond, Samadhi Buddha, Thuparama Dagoba (3rd century BC), Lankarama, Isurumuniya, Moonstone, Sri Maha Bodhi, and Guard Stone. Because they are spread out across a large area, it might take five hours to visit all of those locations. How do you feel now?

Is a trip to Anuradhapura worthwhile?

The vast city of Anuradhapura is split into three main sections: the Jetawanarama complex, the Mahavihara complex, and the Abhyagiri Monastery complex. Each of the many temple complexes, which covered a sizable area, contained amenities such as Buddhist learning centres, pagodas or stupas, Ayurvedic hospitals, audience halls, parks, mediation centres, libraries, and monastic quarters.

Is a trip to Polonnaruwa worthwhile?

I have visited the Polonnaruwa historical site numerous times, and if you enjoy learning about and experiencing culture and history, I heartily suggest going. Several intriguing monuments, including palaces, lakes, Buddhist temples, Hindu shrines, audience halls, and several other buildings, may be found inside the Polonnaruwa archaeological complex.
A journey to the old city of Polonnaruwa often begins close to the palace of King Parakramabahu, which was demolished during the invasion by the South Indians. There aren’t many more buildings in the inner city, such as audience halls, except for the Parakrama palace. You may witness well-preserved monuments all the way from the Parikrama Palace to the Quadrangle and Gala Vihara at the extreme end of the Polonnaruwa mediaeval city. Polonnaruwa’s monuments are in better shape than those of Anuradhapura because the latter is older. Nonetheless, Polonnaruwa has a significantly smaller number of monuments than Anuradhapura, and Anuradhapura has a substantially larger total area of monuments than Polonnaruwa.

What do Polonnaruwa and the Anuradhapura tour offer?

The terms Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa refer to the exploration of Sri Lankan history, respectively. The deteriorating monuments of Anuradhapura date back many thousand years, and some of the buildings, such as the Ruwanweli dagoba and the Abhyagiri dagoba (a pagoda or stupa), were created before the time of Christ. However, this is where the historical monuments differ in age.
Compared to the monuments of Anuradhapura, the ones of Polonnaruwa are far younger. The majority of Anuradhapura’s historical constructions date from the third century BC to the tenth century AD, whereas Polonnaruwa’s historical monuments were constructed primarily between the tenth and eleventh centuries AD.
Accompanying monument visits with museum visits is essential to comprehending Sri Lanka’s past. Both locations have museums; however, Polonnaruwa’s museum is significantly more well-run than Anuradhapura’s. The Polonnaruwa Museum’s relics are much more arranged and paint a good image of the historic buildings that may be seen there. For instance, the Parakrama palace, which was once a large seven-story building, was reduced to just a few walls and a foundation following the invasion. It is easy to determine the imposing scale of the Parakrama palace if you visit the museum before entering the old city, where you can see a model of the palace.

A brief comparison of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura

Some comparisons between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Anuradhapura                                                               Polonnaruwa

From the third century BC to the tenth 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                                        The number of monuments is less

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

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

Getting around in Anuradhapura

The trip by private automobile takes about 4 hours, and the distance is 200 km from Colombo to Anuradhapura. For those who want to travel to Anuradhapura, there are also air and rail options. Trains headed for Anuradhapura depart from Colombo’s mail railway station. One can arrange for a seaplane or helicopter to travel to Anuradhapura from Colombo or the airport; the Anuradhapura domestic airport would serve as the landing site.

Getting around in Polonnaruwa

The primary means of transportation to the Polonnaruwa monuments is by road. A private vehicle trip from Colombo to Polonnaruwa covers 220 miles and takes about 5 hours. Bookings for both plane and rail transport are possible from Colombo. Three trains departing from Colombo each day travel to Polonnaruwa. There are two daily flights from Colombo to Polonnaruwa.

Distance between Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura

Our customers occasionally inquire about the possibility of seeing Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura on a single-day trip. The trip’s beginning position mostly determines whether the response is yes or no. You can see both Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in one day if you begin your vacation from a location such as Sigiriya or Habarana. But, because of the time required for travel, it will not be feasible to see both locations if you start your trip from a faraway location like Kandy or Colombo. Since it only takes two hours to travel the little over 100 km between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, staying at a hotel close to these two locations will make it easy to visit both.

Additional activities in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Most visitors to these towns come primarily expecting to visit historical landmarks, but if you have time, there are a few other worthwhile things you should definitely do. Participating in a cooking class, receiving an Ayurvedic massage, touring a hamlet, taking a wildlife safari, touring temples, going on a jungle tour, and observing birds are a few of the activities.
I hope that after reading through the above information, you will be able to determine whether to visit Mount Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura when visiting Sri Lanka. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] if you need any additional advice regarding Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

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