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Polonnaruwa

The extraordinary ancient city of Polonnaruwa was the island's medieval capital between the 11th and 13th century. Built alongside a huge man-made lake (referred to as a sea in Sinhala), there is an outstanding collection of well-preserved remains of palaces, bathing pools, stupas and exquisite rock sculptures of the Buddha, all testifying to its brief but brilliant period as the island's capital. The Archaeological Museum is a must-see and also holds a fine collection of bronzes and sculptures - many are elaborately carved images of Hindu deities, testifying to the overwhelming Indian influence in the city's culture.

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The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling