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Giritale - The Hidden Treasure of Polonnaruwa

Found within the historical region of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, the small quiet city of Giritale is rich with heritage. Due to its unique position, Giritale provides to be the ideal base for the adventurous traveller to explore Polonnaruwa and take a safari to the Minneriya National Park. 


The tranquil and almost mystical aura of Giritale is further enhanced with its origins. Legend reveals that its past can be traced as far back as the beginning of Anuradhapura. The first King of Sri Lanka to make Anuradhapura his capital, Pandukabhaya had named the hill like area ‘Giri’. He took this initiative to please his wife and queen Swarnapalee, the daughter of Girikanda Siva.

Unravelling the story further, it is said that a soothsayer foretold that Unmada Chithra mother of King Pandukabhaya was to have a son, and he would kill all his uncles and take the throne. The uncles as a preventive measure, kept Unmada Chithra locked her in a tower with the intention of not letting her be visited by any man. However, she did conceive a child, a son – Pandukabhaya.

Prince Pandukabhaya lived all his life in hiding and in secret. If his identity was known, he would be killed by his uncles. When he came of age to rule, he did fulfil the prophecy and killed his uncles except for Girikanda Siva and claimed the throne. 

Complementing its antiquity, the picturesque Giritale Tank is one of the largest reservoirs in the country. 


Attractions in Giritale

Nestled amidst the serene landscape is the breathtaking Giritale Tank. The calm and luxuriously placid environment will enchant your senses.

Giritale Tank 

The most popular attraction here is the Giritale Tank. Built during the time of King Agbo II of Anuradhpura, the tank was renovated to epic proportions during King Parakramabahu’s I of Polonnaruwa’s reign. It is one of the largest and technologically advanced reservoirs in the island. 

Set in granite, the sluice gates on the bund can be easily seen. When the tank bund is full and water is at its brim, the sluice gates open and excess water is extracted via a canal. It’s a primary example of the hydraulic prowess the early kingdoms possessed.

Today, the Giritale Tank and its surroundings have become a vital part for the wildlife in the area. Along with its sister tank Minneriya, the Giritale tank is a major source of drinking water to the animals of the region. It is also a demarcated area for bird watching and is known to be an Important Bird Area. 

Wildlife Museum 

Situated very near to the tank, the little but important wildlife museum is an informative trip. If you have missed any animal to view, the museum is an excellent alternative for curious visitors. The museum displays skeletal remains of black leopard, white deer and the last elephant in Sri Lanka with crossed tusks. 


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