Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum

Polonnaruwa, North Central Province, Sri Lanka

Lucy Davidson

15 Apr 2021

About Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum

The Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum exhibits finds excavated from the medieval city of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO-listed site.

This is a great place to start a trip to Polonnaruwa, particularly as its models of the city’s buildings allow visitors to imagine how it would have appeared hundreds of years ago.

Moving through the museum, visitors can learn about this former capital by theme, with a highlight including a series of Chola bronzes.

History of Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum

The Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum provides an overview of what visitors can expect at the Polonnaruwa Archaeological Site through a display of artefacts and replica models of some of the archaeological sites.

One of these replica models includes a model of a dagoba (a monument to display a statue of Buddha), which is now only made up of pillars, but would have originally had a roof.

Highlights on display include a bronze chest, ancient medical tools, and bronze statues of Parvarti and Shiva Nataraja (the Hindu god, who is a divine dancer, and is depicted here standing on a baby), their baby Ganesh, and Sivakamasundari.

The exhibition goes into detail about three great kings of Sri Lanka and the civilisation, education, and religion that they brought to the people in the area of Polonnaruwa.

Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum Today

Today, visitors can enjoy the museum as an accompaniment to the entire Archaeological Site, which includes hundreds of thousand-year-old monuments – tombs and temples, stupas and statues – in amongst a sprawling forested area.

It is worth hiring a local guide for a more through level of detail and knowledge of the whole area, and taking a map of the whole World Heritage Site from the front desk of the museum to help guide you through the whole Archaeological Site is also recommended.

It is fascinating to consider that barely 5% of the old city has been excavated, and yet, between the Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Sites themselves, there is still a huge amount to see.

Getting to Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum

From the capital city Colombo, Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum is reachable in around 4 and a half hours by car, via the Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Trincomalee Hwy/Ambepussa – Trincomalee Hwy/Colombo Rd/Kandy Rd/A6 roads.

From within Polonnaruwa itself, the museum is a 30 minute walk via Maradankadawala-Habarana-Thirukkondaiadimadu Hwy/A11, or around 5 minutes by car via the A11.

For those who wish to deepen their knowledge of this historical period and its monuments, a particular highlight is Lankatilaka Vihara, an ancient and sacred Buddhist temple, which is a 5 minute drive and 45 minute walk from Polonnaruwa.

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