An ancient and compact city, Polonnaruwa features 12th-century stone sculptures, an old irrigation system with huge tanks, and the Gal Vihara: three enormous Buddha figures—one reclining (it's 44 ft/13 m long), one standing and one sitting. The statues, located in a cluster along a dirt road, are revered as being among the most sacred monuments in Sri Lanka. There are also palace ruins and great bas-reliefs and friezes (especially the elephants carved around the Audience Hall). Allow at least a half-day to see this ancient city. Travelers on a limited schedule might want to see Polonnaruwa instead of Anuradhapura (it's easier to reach, and the sites are much closer together). Polonnaruwa can be seen as a long day trip from Kandy, but it's best visited from Habarana. 110 mi/175 km northeast of Colombo.

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