Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, rose to fame after the decline of Anuradhapura. The largest man-made reservoir, the Parakrama Samudraya, was built during King Parkaramabahu’s reign and it is larger that the Colombo harbour. The ruins of Shiva Devales and Hindu style decors show the blend of the influence of Hindu culture on Sinhala Buddhist culture. In the complex of Gal Viharaya, there are imposing Buddha sculptures in granite. This is one of the most evocative pieces of sculpture in the world. A unique style of brick work architecture is also seen at Lankathilake Viharaya.
The other interesting places are the ruins of the King’s Council Chamber, the Royal Pavilion, Kiri Vehera and Gal Viharaya. All these places show the high standards of stone craft and artistry of this era.There are 658 villages in the district under seven local government authorities. From the sixth century A.D. onwards Polonnaruwa became increasingly important and demographic expansion in the area is indicated by the construction of shrine rooms, an alternative residence for the Anuradhapura kings and hospitals at Polonnaruwa during the reigns of Silakal (518-31), Aggabodi-III (629- 30) Aggabodhi-IV (667-83) and UdayaI (793-801). The South Indian Chola empire which conquered the northern part of Sri Lanka in 1017 A.D. established its capital in Polonnaruwa for 53 years until 1070 A.D. After the Cholas were expelled, the Sinhala kings too selected Polonnaruwa as their capital and it flourished for nearly two centuries until 1215 A.D. Once again the South Indian invader Magha conquered Polonnaruwa in 1215 and with his atrocious rule the Sinhala nobility drifted to the South west and established kingdoms in Dambadeniy and Yapahuwa.