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Polonnaruwa is a historic city located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. It was the second capital of the country, following the ancient city of Anuradhapura, and served as the capital during the 11th and 12th centuries. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Polonnaruwa was established as the capital of the country by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century after Anuradhapura was abandoned due to continuous South Indian invasions. The city reached its peak during the reign of King Parakramabahu I, who is credited with many significant constructions, including the Parakrama Samudra, a vast reservoir that still provides water for irrigation in the region.

Polonnaruwa is known for its well-preserved ancient ruins and archaeological sites. The main attractions include the Royal Palace, the Quadrangle, the Gal Vihara, and the Rankot Vihara. The Royal Palace complex showcases the grandeur of the ancient kingdom, while the Quadrangle houses several important structures like the Vatadage, Thuparama, and Hatadage.

The Gal Vihara is a rock temple featuring four colossal statues of the Buddha carved out of a single granite rock. It is considered a masterpiece of ancient Sinhalese stone carving. The Rankot Vihara, on the other hand, is the largest dagoba (stupa) in Polonnaruwa, standing at an impressive height of over 50 meters.

Tips for Tourists:
1. Wear comfortable footwear as you will be doing a lot of walking and exploring the ancient ruins.
2. It is advisable to hire a local guide who can provide you with detailed historical information about the sites and help you navigate through the complex.
3. Carry sufficient water and sunscreen, as the area can get quite hot and humid, especially during the midday hours.
4. Respect the cultural and religious significance of the sites by dressing modestly and refraining from any disrespectful behavior.
5. Renting a bicycle is a popular way to explore the ruins, as the sites are spread out and can be easily accessed on two wheels.

Visiting Polonnaruwa offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and witness the architectural and cultural marvels of ancient Sri Lanka. The city's rich history and well-preserved ruins make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in immersing themselves in the country's vibrant past.