Points of Interest - Dambulla


Yapahuwa is located a little way off the Kurunegala-Anuradhapura road, in the Wayamba province of Sri Lanka. Of all the ancient ruins in the country the Rock Fortress Complex of Yapahuwa is considered to be quite remarkable despite the fact that it isn't famous among most visitors. However, it is renowned as one of the best archeological site in the country. It is even rumored to be more significant than The Rock Fortress in Sigiriya.

History Of Yapahuwa

In the early 13th century Yapahuwa was the capital of the country and it housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha for 11 Years. King Bhuvanekabhu I, the son of the King Parakramabahu who at that time ruled Dambadeniya, was stationed at Yapahuwa in order to protect the Country from Invaders; built the palace and the temple. After the Fortress was abandoned monks converted it into a monastery and monks still reside among the ancient ruins. Even today signs of early defense mechanisms can still be seen among the ruins.

From the low lying forest plains the wonder rock dramatically breaks ground and soars over 100 metres high, sticking out like a sore thumb for all to see. 
But from its lofty perch it offers a vantage view of the vast expanse below thus providing clear and vital intelligence of any enemy movements. Thus it seemed the ideal bastion to keep the barbarians at the gate from making further incursions. Yapahuwa was not chosen for its attack potential but solely for its defense value; and the ruins that remain reveal by their design and placement, defense as its raison d'être, 
reason for existence.

Along with his court, Buvenekabahu brought with him the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha for it was considered the custom then that, where resided the Tooth Relic, there lay the capital of Lanka. It was the potent symbol of sovereign power and legitimacy of kingship.

Buvenekabahu, now safely ensconced in Yapahuwa, began fortifying his capital. As the first defense he built a moat over ten kilometres long, which completely circled his fort. Upon the embankment he erected an encircling wall and, further infield from the ramparts; he built his own palace next to which he located the Royal Council Chamber, which seated his 
war cabinet.

Leading up to this sanctum of the Tooth is the imposing, ornate stone stairway. The first flight of the staircase takes one to the first plateau to face the challenge of scaling the second flight, which is the steepest and the most demanding. Both these flights are functional in design with the steps built narrowly so much so that one has to place one's feet sideways to manoeuver to the top. This strategic device had been used to slow down the advance of any invading troops, giving the defenders ample time to repulse the attack.

On top of the rock the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree, and a rock shelter/cave used by Buddhist monks is visible. A couple of caves are seen at the base of the rock, one of which is a Buddhist Shrine whereas another cave has some inscriptions on it. The rock fortress has a strong resemblance to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.