Polonnaruwa was the capital of the then Sri Lankan kingdom from around 993 AD to 1250 AD. The most notably and powerful of the great kings of Polonnaruwa was Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD). During his reign the entire region prospered to great heights.
This was the time the Gal Vihara with its great sculptures of the Buddha was created. The Culavamsa, a chronicle of records states that he repaired or built 165 dams, 3910 canals, 163 major tanks and 2376 minor tanks.
He is most famous for creating the enormous Parakrama Samudra (‘Sea of Parakrama’) a 2500 hectare man-made tank with a capacity of 134 million cubic metres. He also established a centralised system of administration where the whole country came under the personal rule of the king The ancient city of Polonnaruwa has traces of early settlement Parakramabahu I philosophised on this aspect when he said, “Let not a drop of water that falls on the good earth flow into the sea without serving man:” The ingenuity of the science of water storage, and the conservation of its use, is clearly stamped in every city of ancient times. Polonnaruwa is no exception. While the sea of Parakramabahu obtains its water from a branch of the Mahaveli Ganga, this Ambanganga is replenished from the upper ridges of the Mahaveli Ganga with the water being carried over a 70-mile course.
Birding highlights include seeing a large colony of Rose-ringed Parakeets which holds the Lion’s share of the nest holes found on the tall Colon Trees (Adina cordifolia). We also look for the endemic Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, well-camouflaged Blue-winged Leafbird, highly vocal Large Cuckooshrike, the beautiful songster White-rumped Shama and the migrants Forest Wagtail, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Indian Pitta.