|Province||North Central Province|
|Polonnaruwa||Before 1070 AD|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (Sri Lanka Standard Time Zone)|
|Official name||Ancient City of Polonnaruwa|
|Criteria||Cultural: i, iii, vi|
|Inscription||1982 (6th Session)|
Po?onnaruwa (Sinhala: ?, romanized: Po?onnaruva; Tamil: , romanized: Polaa?uvai) is the main town of Polonnaruwa District in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Kaduruwela area is the Polonnaruwa New Town and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first established by the Chola dynasty as their capital in the 10th century. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.
Currently the new Polonnaruwa is undergoing a major development project known as the "Awakening of Polonnaruwa" under the concept of President Maithripala Sirisena. It envisions the development of all sectors in Polonnaruwa including roads, electricity, agriculture, education, health and environment will be developed comprehensively.
The name Polonnaruwa is of unknown origin and was adopted by the traveller James Emerson Tennent. Its Tamil form, Pulainari, is mentioned in Tamil inscriptions found at Polonnaruwa of the Chola period. The name was perhaps a contraction of its ancient name Pulastya nagara or Pulatti nakaram meaning city of the Hindu sage Pulastya.
It was renamed under Chola rule as Jananathapuram or Jananathamangalam. The place was later known as Vijayarajapuram as mentioned in the records of Jayabahu I, which probably was derived from the name of Vijayabahu I.
Polonnaruwa was established by the Cholas as capital city under the name Jananathapuram in the 10th century. Under this period flourished Hinduism. Raja Raja Chola I built Vanavan Mahadevisvaram, a Shiva temple at Polonnaruwa named after his queen, which presently is known as Siva Devale. The temple among other contained Ganesa and Parvati statues of bronze. Sri Lanka was under this period ruled under Rajendra Chola I directly as a Chola province. However, following the year 1070 AD ended the Chola rule in the island, and Polonnaruwa was captured by Vijayabahu I.
Trade and agriculture flourished under the patronage of the king, who was so adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted and each was to be used toward the development of the land. Hence, irrigation systems that are far superior to those of the Anuradhapura Age were constructed during Parakramabahu's reign - systems which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. The greatest of these systems is the Parakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama. The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was completely self-sufficient during King Parakramabahu's reign.
With the exception of his immediate successor, Nissankamalla I, all other monarchs of Polonnaruwa were slightly weak-willed and rather prone to picking fights within their own court. They also went on to form more intimate matrimonial alliances with stronger South Indian kingdoms until these matrimonial links superseded the local royal lineage. This prompted an invasion by the Aryacakravarti dynasty King Kalinga Magha in 1214, who founded the Jaffna kingdom (1215-1624 CE).
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Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic cities in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers. Its beauty was also used as a backdrop to filmed scenes for the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Near the ancient city, there is a small town with several hotels (especially for tourists) and some glossy shops, and places to fulfill day-to-day needs. There are government institutions in a newly built area called "new town," about 6 km away from the town and the main road. The largest school in the district, Polonnaruwa Royal Central College is situated at new town.
Polonnaruwa is the second largest city in North Central Province, but it is known as one of the cleanest and more beautiful cities in the country. The green environment, amazing ancient constructions, Parakrama Samudra (a huge lake built in 1200), and attractive tourist hotels and hospitable people, attract tourists.
Another draw for tourists is the city's population of toque macaques. The monkeys have been living in the ruins since human occupation and continue to thrive here long after the humans left.