The Hidden Gem of Sri Lanka


Nestled amidst the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, the Archaeological Museum stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s illustrious history and cultural heritage. This museum, located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa, offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the rich past of this ancient city. With its impressive collection of artifacts and engaging exhibits, the Archaeological Museum in Polonnaruwa is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

A Glimpse into Polonnaruwa's History

Polonnaruwa, often referred to as the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka, was established as a royal city in the 11th century AD. It served as the capital of the country during the reign of King Parakramabahu I, a period marked by significant cultural and architectural achievements. The city thrived as a center of trade, culture, and Buddhism, leaving behind a treasure trove of historical remnants that have captivated archaeologists and historians for centuries.

The Museum's Architecture

Before delving into the museum’s impressive collection, visitors are greeted by its architectural splendor. The building itself is a fusion of traditional Sri Lankan and modern architectural styles, harmoniously blending with the surrounding historical landscape. The use of stone, wood, and intricate carvings pays homage to the rich heritage of Polonnaruwa.

The Museum's Exhibits

The Archaeological Museum in Polonnaruwa boasts an extensive collection of artifacts, sculptures, and relics that chronicle the city’s history. The exhibits are thoughtfully curated, offering visitors a chronological journey through the various dynasties and eras that shaped the city.

  1. The Anuradhapura Period: The museum begins with artifacts from the Anuradhapura period, showcasing the cultural influences of India and the indigenous Sinhalese traditions that shaped early Polonnaruwa.
  2. The Polonnaruwa Period: The heart of the museum’s collection revolves around the Polonnaruwa period. Visitors can marvel at intricately carved stone statues of Buddha, Hindu deities, and royal figures. These sculptures provide insights into the artistic and religious practices of the time.
  3. The Colonial Era: As European colonial powers made their presence felt in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa also witnessed significant changes. The museum features artifacts and documents that shed light on this tumultuous period in the city’s history.
  4. Archaeological Discoveries: The Archaeological Museum proudly showcases some of the most remarkable findings from ongoing excavations in Polonnaruwa. These discoveries continually add to our understanding of the city’s past.

Interactive Learning

One of the highlights of the museum is its commitment to providing an interactive learning experience. In addition to the traditional exhibits, there are multimedia presentations, informative panels, and guided tours available. These resources offer deeper insights into the significance of the artifacts on display, the historical context, and the techniques used by ancient craftsmen.

Preserving the Past for the Future

The Archaeological Museum plays a crucial role in the preservation of Polonnaruwa’s heritage. The artifacts are meticulously conserved and restored, ensuring that future generations can continue to explore the city’s history. Moreover, the museum actively engages in research and conservation efforts to safeguard the surrounding archaeological sites.


A visit to the Archaeological Museum in Polonnaruwa is a journey back in time, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating history of this ancient city. From its architectural splendor to its vast collection of artifacts, the museum serves as a gateway to understanding the cultural, religious, and artistic achievements of Polonnaruwa’s past. It is not only a testament to the city’s rich heritage but also a testament to the enduring fascination that history holds for us all. So, if you find yourself in Sri Lanka, make sure to set aside some time to explore this remarkable museum and the captivating history it preserves.

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Useful Tips

  • Opening Hours and Entry Fee: The museum is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. However, it is advisable to check the timings before your visit. The entry fee for foreigners is approximately $15.

  • Museum Guides: It is recommended to hire a guide or avail the audio guide service offered at the museum. They can provide detailed explanations and historical anecdotes about the exhibits, making your visit more informative and enriching.

  • Photography: Photography is allowed within the museum, so don’t forget to capture the remarkable artifacts and memorable moments during your visit.
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