Kingdom of Polonnaruwa
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|Historical states in
present-day Sri Lanka
|History of Sri Lanka|
The city is situated on the left bank of River Mahaweli. Archeological evidence and accounts in chronicles suggests that the city is as old as Anuradhapura. The Vijithagama settlement made by Vijitha in 400 BC is thought to be situated near the town.
Name Pulathisipura is derived from the gardian sage of the city Pulasthi there are several theories on the name Polonnaruwa.According to the most accepted one word is derived from conjunction of to words Pulun which means cotton in sinhala and Maruwa which mean exchanging.So Pulun+Maruwa=Polonnaruwa
After ruling the country for over 1,200 years from the Kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka was captured by Cholas in 1017A.D.Chola King Rajarajan I captured Anuradhapura and taken king Mahinda V as a captive to India. Mahinda V died in India on 1029. Cholas shifted the capital to Polonnaruwa and ruled Sri Lanka for 52 years. Polonnaruwa was named as Jananathamangalam by the Cholas. King Vijayabahu I defeated Cholas and regained the Sinhalese lineage. Polonnaruwa had previously been an important settlement in the country, as it commanded the crossings of the Mahaweli Ganga towards Anuradhapura.
Some of the rulers of Polonnaruwa include Vijayabahu I and Parakramabahu I (Parakramabahu the Great). Most of Polonnaruwa that remains today dates from after the 1150s, as the extensive civil wars that preceded Parakramabahu's accession to the throne devastated the city.
The Kingdom of Polonnaruwa was abandoned in the 14th century, and the seat of government for the Sinhalese kings was moved to Yapahuwa. Although many factors contributed to this, the leading cause of the abandonment of Polonnaruwa as the kingdom of Sri Lanka was its susceptibility to invasions from south India.
The kings who ruled in Polonnaruwa engaged in foreign trade. During the period of king Parakramabahu I, Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in paddy and also had exported to many Southeast Asian countries as well as to India. The people of Polonnaruwa had many of their requirements fulfilled except salt, which they had to bring from the coastal area.
Buddhism continued to be the main religion in Polonnaruwa era. Before the Sinhala kings' rule, there was a strong influence of Hinduism caused by Cholas. It is evident from the removal of cow shape in Polonnaruwa moonstone and also by the presence of Shiva temples in Polonnaruwa. After Chola rule a lot of vihars were renovated by Vijayabahu I and Parakramabahu I. Various divisions or Nikayas in Buddhism were united by Parakramabahu I.
The kings who ruled during this period built Buddhist schools for monks which were known as the Pirivena. And also the Brahmins were the only group which had the rights to have education. Pali and the Sanskrit were the official languages.
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