The best examples of brick-work are to be found among the ruins of Pollonarua, where the mortar that was originally used shows the remains of the burned pearl-oyster shells from which it was made.
The very interesting and in many respects unique ruins of Anuradhapura, like those pertaining to the city of Pollonarua, with its curious and enormous mass of crumbling brick-work in the shape of a dagoba surmounted by a temple, are supposed to have been thus mouldering in the dust for more than six centuries.
The pyramids and dagobas are crude, barbaric embodiments of bulk and imposing loftiness; the other is a realization in marble of a poetic dream. The former are remarkable only for magnitude; the latter, for its exquisite grace. There is sufficient evidence still left us to show that the olden city of Pollonarua was laid out in a perfectly systematic way, and built up in the most regular manner.
Anuradhapura, as wonderful in its way as Pompeii or Herculaneum, is known as the ancient capital of Ceylon, and Pollonarua as the mediæval, but even the former is antedated by other half-buried cities in the island, that of Bintenne, for instance, which exhibits ruins of great interest and of admitted antiquity.
We met at Pollonarua one enthusiastic traveler who had neither eyes nor ears for anything else but that which related to the almost forgotten past. The mouldering ruins of Ceylon were food and drink to him, with which he gorged himself to repletion.
Sufficient is recorded of the personal character of Wijaya, the early conqueror of the island, to prove his utter barbarity, so that we are naturally led still more to wonder whence came the artists for artists they were who designed and built such cities as Anuradhapura and Pollonarua, the first of which was probably founded during his reign.
The ruins of what is known as the Treasure House of Pollonarua are unusually interesting, as exhibiting some of the finest and best preserved bas-reliefs to be found in Ceylon, and as showing also certain marked peculiarities of skill in architecture which prevailed in pre-Christian times.
There are also a few bazaars, a post-office, telegraph station, and a court house, which serve, by affording a strong contrast to the former splendor which reigned here, to emphasize the historic grandeur of the defunct capital. Oriental Dagobas. Ancient City of Pollonarua. Laid out like our Modern Capitals. Unexplored Ruins. Elaborate Stone Carvings. The "Buried Cities."