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November 21, 2003

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A short bus hop away from Anaradhapura is another ancient city with a catchy name: Polonnaruwa. We try to understand its history. The Indian Chola dynasty invaded in the late 900's, captured Anaradhapura, and then built up Polonnaruwa because it offered a better position against the rebel Ruhunu Sinhalese kingdom of the southeast. Despite these efforts, Vijayabahu drove the Indian interlopers from Sri Lanka, retained Polonnaruwa as capital, and his grandson, Parakramabahu erected huge buildings and gardens, the city flourished, until Parakramabahu's son, Nissankamalla, bankrupted the kingdom pursuing massive expansion plans. Whew! In a nutshell, these kings with tongue twister names ruled Polonnaruwa as Sri Lanka's capital from the 10th to 14th centuries.
Forget learning historic facts. It's good enough to relax among the old buildings and breathe in history.
Don't take a picture of Buddha's statue with people, so please move along Jill you ham!
Polonnaruwa has miles of deserted tracks and small ruins tucked in creeping jungle. We rented bicycles and rode along deserted byways, easier to navigate than the city's convoluted past.