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PLACES OF BUDDHIST RELIGIOUS INTERESTS Sri Lanka is known for its rich Buddhist culture and history and offers many places of religious and historic significance. ADAM’S PEAK - HISTORICAL SITES Though not the highest mountain of Sri Lanka, the striking pyramid of Adam's Peak (7,360 ft) is certainly the most remarkable. A depression in the rocky summit resembles a  huge footprint, which has been venerated as a sacred sigh from remote antiquity. This was identified by Buddhists as the Buddha's footprint, by Hindus as that of Shiva, and  by Muslims as Adam's. Later the Portuguese attributed it to St. Thomas the Apostle.  The Mahawamsa tells how the sacred footprint was imprinted by the departing Buddha on his third visit to Lanka, but the site did not become an object of regular Buddhist  pilgrimage until the Polonnaruwa period, when Vijayabahu I built resting houses for pilgrims and King Nissankamalla himself, in the year 1201, climbed to the top and  worshipped the spot. The Muslim tradition of a footprint of Adam, first of the prophets, goes back to gnostic sources as early as the Mahawamsa itself. According to the legend, Adam was hurled  from Paradise for his disobedience and stood in penance for a thousand years on one foot at the top of Adam's Peak, after which he was reunited with Eve on Mt. Arafat  overlooking Mecca. By the ninth century, this footprint was consequently considered one of the most sacred sites in the world.  ANURADHAPURA - HISTORICAL SITES History of Anuradhapura  Although people may have lived in this area since as early as the 10th century BC, Anuradhapura became a great city after the arrival of a cutting from the Bodhi Tree ('tree  of enlightenment'), the Buddha's fig tree, in the 3rd century BC. The sacred branch was brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns.  Anuradhapura went on to become a Ceylonese political and religious capital (4th century BC) that flourished for 1,300 years. In its prime, Anuradhapura ranked alongside  Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions—its four walls, each 16 miles (26 km) long, enclosing an area of 256 square miles (663 km²)—in the number of its  inhabitants, and the splendour of its shrines and public buildings. What to See at Anuradhapura  There is much to see at Anuradhapura, including the sacred Bodhi tree, eight major palaces, monasteries and monuments. The Sri Maha bodhiya is perhaps the oldest living tree in the world. Around 245 BC, Sanghamitta Theri brought with her a branch of the Bodhi Tree under which the  Buddha attained enlightment. The tree was planted on a high terrace about 21 feet (6.5 m) above the ground and surrounded by railings. Today, the tree is one of the most  sacred relics in Sri Lanka, respected by Buddhists all over the world. A wall was built around the tree during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha, to protect it from wild  elephants. Ruwanwelisaya After defeating the Tamil king Elara, King Dutugemunu of Sri Lanka built this magnificant stupa. The stupa is known as Ruwanwelisaya, Mahathupa,  Swarnamali Chaitya and Rathnamali Dagaba. The compound is supported by stone elephants, and the surrounding wall is decorated with 1,900 figures of elephants - 475 on  each side. Successive kings added to the palace over the years.  Thuparamaya Thera Mahinda himself introduced Theravada Buddhism and also chetiya worship to Ceylon. At his request King Devanampiyatissa built Thuparamaya  in which was enshrined the collarbone of the Buddha and is considered as the first dagaba built in Sri Lanka, after the introduction of Buddhism. This chetiya was built in the  shape of a heap of paddy. This dagaba was destroyed from time to time. During the reign of King Agbo II it was completely destroyed and the King restored it. What we have  today is the construction of the dagaba, done in 1862 AD. As it is today, after several renovations, in the course of the centuries, the monument has a diameter of 59 ft (18  m), at the base. The dome is 11 feet 4 inches (3.45 m) in height from the ground, 164½ ft (50.1 m) in diameter. The compound is paved with granite and there are 2 rows of  stone pillars round the dagaba. During the early period vatadage was built round the dagaba.  Lovamahapaya is situated between Ruvanveliseya and Sri Mahabodiya. It is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya. In ancient times the building included  the refectory and the uposathagara. (Uposatha house). There was also a simamalake where the sangha assembled on poya days to recite the formula of the confessional].  The famous Lohaprasada built by King Dutugemunu described as an edifice of nine storeys, was a building of this class. One side of the building was 400 ft (120 m) in  length. As the roof was covered with tiles made of bronze, this was known as the Brazen Palace. There are 40 rows, each row consisting of 40 stone pillars and a total of  1600 stone pillars were used for the building. It is believed that it took 6 years for the construction of the building and the plan was brought from the heavens. The building  was completely destroyed during the reign of King Saddhatissa. Abhayagiri Dagaba King Valagamba ascended the throne in 103 AD. He waged war with the Tamils and was defeated. When he fled, a Nigantha named Giri shouted  words of derisive mockery at him. Later the king collected an army attacked the Tamils by slaying the last of their leaders, and recovered the throne he had lost. It is said that  he demolished Nigantaramaya (the temple of the Niganthas) and built the Abhayagiri Vihara in the same premises. Shortly after this event, the monks of the Mahavihara took  disciplinary action against one of the bhikkus of the Abhayagiri Vihara, for violating a rule of the vinaya. Thereafter the bhikkhus of the Abhayagiri Vihara founded a separate  sect there. King Valagamba's reign is marked by an important event - the first schism in Buddhism in Ceylon. Most learned bhikkhus lives in Abhayagiri Vihara. It consisted of  a large library. It is recorded that during the reigns of King Voharakatissa and King Gothabhaya this library was destroyed and the heretical monks driven away. King  Parakramabahu renovated Abhayagiri Vihara, then the height is said to have been 140 cubit]s. In the year 1875, Abhayagiri Vihara which had a diameter of 307 feet (94 m) at  its base, stood to a height of 231 feet (70 m). The relics of the Buddha are said to have been enshrined in a figure of a bull made out of thick GOLD.  Jetavanarama King Mahasen (273-301 AD) built this largest stupa in Ceylon, and possibly the whole world. A part of a sash tied by the Buddha is believed to be  enshrined here. Its height is said to be 400 feet (120 m). This is considered as the largest stupa in the whole world. This stupa belongs to the Sagalika sect. The compound of the stupa is 8 acres (3 ha). One side of the stupa is 576 feet (176 m) in depth. The 4 flight of steps at the four sides is 28 feet (8.5 m) in depth. The doorpost to the shrine  which is situated at the courtyard is 27 feet (8 m) in height. It is a foot (0.3 m) underground. There are some stone inscriptions in the courtyard with the names of donors  inscribed. Mirisaveti Stupa King Dutugamunu after defeating King Elara, built the Mirisaveti Stupa. After placing the Buddha relics in the scepter, he had gone to Tisawewa for a  bath leaving the scepter. After the bath he returned to the place where the scepter was placed, and it is said that it could not be moved. The stupa was built in the place  where the scepter stood. It is also said that he remembered that he partook a chilly curry without offering it to the sangha. In order to punish himself he built the Mirisavetiya  Dagaba. The extent of this land is about 50 acres (20 ha). Although the king Kasyapa I and Kasyapa V renovated this, from time to time it was dilapidated. What stands today  is the renovation done by the cultural Triangle Fund.  Lankarama was built by King Valagamba, in an ancient place at Galhebakada. Nothing is known about the ancient form of the stupa, and later this was renovated. The  ruins show that there are rows of stone pillars and it is no doubt that there has been a house built encircling the stupa (vatadage) to cover it. The round courtyard of the stupa  seems to be 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. The diameter of the stupa is 45 feet (14 m). The courtyard is circular in shape and the diameter is 1332 feet (406 m).  Isurumuniya is situated near Tisawewa and was built by King Devanampiyatissa to house 500 newly-ordained children of high caste. King Kasyapa I (473-491 AD)  renovated this viharaya and named it as "Boupulvan, Kasubgiri Radmaha Vehera". This name is derived from names of his 2 daughters and his name. There is a viharaya  CONNECTED to a cave and above is a cliff. A small stupa is built on it. It can be seen that the constructional work of this stupa belong to the present period. Lower down on  both sides of a cleft, in a rock that appears to rise out of a pool, have been carved the figures of elephants. On the rock is carved the figure of a horse. The carving of  Isurumuniya lovers on the slab has been brought from another place and placed it there. A few yards away from this vihara is the Magul Uyana.  COLOMBO - GANGARAMAYA TEMPLE  Gangaramaya Buddhist temple is a beautiful and vibrant temple with a history that dates back over 2,000 years. This temple was said to have been built in the 19th century  by a trader and ship owner named Don Bastion, who had played a leading role in reviving Buddhism.  Located beside a Holy Bo Tree on the waters of Beira Lake, the temple is only accessible by crossing a wooden bridge. According to historical records, the Lord Buddha is  reputed to have preached under this Bo tree which is considered as a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi and is over 100 years old.  This Temple is famous for its imposing buildings, and is complete with a chetiya, bo tree, image house, Simamalaka, relic chamber containing the relics of the Buddha and  Arahat Seevali, museum, library, pirivena, and residential, education and alms halls. The Nawam Perahera, conducted by the Gangarama temple is a major tourist attraction. The perehara was initially started in 1979 and has been held uninterrupted in the  month of February since then. This beautiful festival of arts has over 1,000 performers and over 100 elephants brought from different parts of the island is the highlight of the  pageant. DAMBULLA - DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE  The Dambulla Rock Temple had first been constructed during the rein of King Vattagamini Abhaya ( 103 BC and 89-77 BC ). The Sinhalese often call him as King Valagamba.  During a South Indian invasion the king had to abandon his Anuradhapura Kingdom . For 12 years, King Valagamba was in hiding and had frequented these caves for his  safety. After regaining the kingdom of Anuradhapura and becoming the King, to show his gratefulness for his safe place, he converted those caves into Buddhist Temples by  constructing walled partitions under the rock overhang which spans the entire area as a single large cave. He got drip ledges made along this large cave and made it suitable  to withstand rainy weather and avoided water seeping inside the caved areas. The three cave temples named as Devarajalena, Maharajalena and the Paccimalena were  constructed by him.  After King Vattagamini Abaya's rein, for several centuries this cave temple had not come under the patronage of any other Kings until Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 AD ), who  made Polonnaruwa his kingdom. He had done renovations to the Cave temples and it is believed that there were Buddhist monks dwelling in this and nearby caves at that  times. King Keerthi Sri Nissankamalla (1187-1196 AD ) was much involved in uplifting the place with many additional Buddha images being constructed and gold plating some seventy three Buddha images in the cave temple.  King Buwanekabahu (1372-1408 AD), King Vickramabahu III (1360-1374 AD), King Rajasinha I (1581-1591 AD) and King Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592-1604 AD ) are the  other Kings merited with the uplifting of the status of the Temple at various times of the years gone by.  Another interesting fact is that the Archeologists state that this cave and other numerous caves around the main rock had been in use for dwelling in pre historic times too  from the evidence found so far.  JAFFNA - DAMBAKOLA PATUNA MAHA VIHARAYA Two significant incidents that took place in the 3rd Century B.C. stand out in Sri Lanka's nearly 2250 year old history which brought about a social, religious and a cultural  revolution in the country. As a messenger of Emperor Dharmashoka of India, Arhat Mahinda arrived in Lankadeepa on a Poson Full Moon Poya Day with the gift of the  Dhamma which was soon embraced by King Devanampiyatissa and his citizens. Arhat Mahinda's historic visit was soon followed by the arrival of Arhat Sanghamitta on an  Unduwap Full Moon Poya Day with a sapling of the Southern bough of India's Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was Arhat Sangamitta  who pioneered the Order of Bhikkhuni (Bhikkhuni Sasana) in Sri Lanka. Thus Unduwap poya day which falls on December is a day of great significance to Sri Lankan  Buddhists. Upon the request of King Devanampiyatissa, his nephew Aritta gave his consent to undertake the tour to India in order to meet Emperor Asoka and make arrangements to  bring a Bo Sapling from Sri Maha Bodhi, provided he was permitted to enter the Order on his return. As the mission was a success Arhat Sangamitta and retinue arrived in  Dambakola Patuna Port with the Bo Sapling placed in a golden bowl. The king Devanampiyatissa got into sea up to a neck-deep depth and received the Sri Maha Bodhiya.  After performing the necessary rituals, the Bo Sapling was ceremoniously carried to Mahamevuna Uyana in Anuradhapura and was planted at an auspicious time during  Rehena Nekatha. Over a thousand men entered the Order on that historic day, reveals Mahavamsa. Arhat Mahinda Thera, King Devanampiyatissa, and Arhat Sanghamitta  participated in the historic ceremony along with Kshatriyas of Kataragama, Chandana Grama and Thiwakka and Brahmins. The seeds of the tree which was given to the King  by Arhat Mahinda was sown on his advice. Later the eight saplings were planted in areas like Thiwakka Bamunugama, Kataragama, Chandanagrama, Thuparama, Isurumuni Vihara, Palamu Se Maluwa and Segiri Aaramage. Thirty two saplings from those trees were planted all over the island. The Sacred Bo Tree remains there to this day, not only  as the oldest tree in the world but also the only tree in the world which has an authentic history, attracting thousands of devout Buddhists.  JAFFNA - NAGADEEPA PURANA RAJA MAHA VIHARAYA The temple situated in the island of Nagadeepa which is 30 km from Jaffna on road and another 15 minutes in a ferry attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year  despite its extreme location. The Stupa of the temple is known as Rajayathana stupa and was constructed nearly 2700 years ago by 2 Naga Kings Chulodara and Mahodara, whose dispute over the gem  adorned golden throne, was settled peacefully by Lord Buddha. In gratitude the throne was offered to the lord Buddha, was returned to the Naga Kings and was later  enshrined in the Rajayathana stupa. The temple was a flourishing pilgrim’s site until it was repeatedly plundered by the provincial Tamil kings and Portuguese during the 17th Century. The temple was forgotten  with time until it was unearthed and reconstructed in 1941 and the end of a thirty years old war had seen a revival of pilgrimage to the site.  KANDY -  TEMPLE OF TOOTH RELIC   Literary sources INDICATE that the sacred Tooth Relic was received by king Vimaladharmasuriya I with great veneration and placed in the new three – storied shrine built by  him near the royal palace. The Dutch Plan of 1765 shows the ground plans of two shrines. The one at the back should be the original one built by the king. His successor was  Senarat (1603 – 1634), a brother of the deceased king had to face severe opposition from the contenders. He had to live in such distant places as Mahiyangana. He was able  take the Tooth Relic to a safe location at Madamahanuvara in the hills enveloped with thick forest cover. Even under these difficult conditions, king Senarat was able to give  due honor to the sacred Tooth Relic by placing it in a suitable shrine. Rajasimha II (1634 – 1686) succeeded king Senarat. As the Portuguese interference in local political  affairs was intensified, Rajasimha sought the aid of the Dutch to circumvent the situation.  This action did not meet the approval of the people and a chaotic situation arose again, even to the extent of ceasing the holding of the annual Tooth Relic festival and the  king leaving the palace. However he was able to rebuild the sacred Tooth Relic shrine into a two-storied structure and place the Tooth Relic therein. After Rajasimha II,  Vimaladharmasuriya II (1686 – 1706) occupied the throne. He was a peace-loving ruler and was able to maintain harmonious relations with the Dutch and attend to many  religious activities. The higher ordination of monks was re-established with the help of Burmese monks. He built a new three-storied Relic House for the sacred Tooth Relic.  This probably constitutes the structure shown in front in the Dutch Plan of 1765. The king is also credited with the preparation of a grand golden casket for the sacred Tooth  Relic and he held great festivities and rituals in honor of the sacred Tooth of the Buddha. Next in line of the ruling house was King Viraparakrama Narendrasimha (1707 –  1739). He was the last Sinhalese king of a long line of rulers and is credited with the protection of the sacred Tooth Relic and ritual honors accorded to the Relic. He rebuilt  the Tooth Relic shrine making it two-storied. The chronicle provides a graphic description of the decoration of the shrine with murals of jatakas, etc. At the recent bomb blast  of the Tamil Tigers, amidst destruction and devastation of the Dalada Maligava premises, the structure of this shrine known as Vadahitina Maligava was miraculously saved.  The falling off of the top plaster of some parts of the walls of the inner shrine has revealed some of the original murals that would belong to the re-builder of the shrine,  Narendrasimha. The next ruler was Sri Vijaya Rajasimha (1738 – 1746) of South Indian Nayakkar origin, who became converted to Buddhism under the influence of Venerable Valvita  Saranankara. He was recorded in the Chronicle, Mahavamsa, as having opened the relic casket and seen the sacred Tooth Relic with his own eyes. With this incident, the  king went into raptures and held a ceremony for the sacred Tooth Relic, surpassing all other festivities held in the past.  The second Nayakkar ruler was King Kirti Sri Rajasimha (1746 – 1779).He was able to get down monks from Siam (Thailand) under the leadership of Venrable Upali, to hold  the Higher Ordination ceremony of the novices including Venerable Welivita Saranankara, who later was declared the Chief Sanghanayaka (Sangharaja) of the Malvatta  Chapter. King Kirti Sri remains the greatest benefactor of the sacred Tooth Relic. Many festivities and rituals were instituted by him, including the addition of the Dalada  Procession to the end of Esala festival, which was at the time confined only to the four Devales of Natha, Visnu, Kataragma and Pattini. The external interference in local  politics resulted in the invasion of Kandy by the Dutch and the Sinhalese seeking the aid of the British, who had already engaged themselves in the maritime TRADE. For  about an year, the Tooth Relic was hidden away in the hills in safter sites. The king too fled to Hanguranketa. Finally, the Tooth Relic was brought back to Kandy and placed  in the shrine with much veneration and ritual worship was commenced. Thereafter, the third Nayakkar, Rajadhi Rajasimha (1779 – 1787) became king. Being a devoted Buddhist, he too continued the ritual worship CONNECTED with the sacred  Tooth Relic. It was at this time the two European powers, the Dutch and the British, were enhancing their struggle for supremacy over the island.  At this moment, the last king of the Sri Lankan ruling house, Sri Vikrama Rajasimha, (1797 – 1815) also a South Indian Nayakkar, occupied the throne. His short period  ended with the occupation of the island by the British in 1815. Under the prevailing calamitous situations, the Buddhist monks were able to take away the Tooth Relic to many  safer locations. The British Governor at the time was Robert Brownrig who showed some keenness to safeguard the religious activities of the Buddhists, particularly those  CONNECTED with the sacred Tooth Relic. The Britishers had realized the importance of the Tooth Relic to the natives, and therefore, did their best to please the Buddhists  by showing much munificence to the worship of the sacred Tooth Relic. They too seemed to have realized the value of the Tooth Relic as the palladium of kingship. John  D'Oyly, who was in charge of Kandy at the time, was originally averse to Buddhists under the Governor Maitland, but subsequently under the influence of Governor Brownrig,  played a friendly role towards the Buddhist religion. Elaborate preparations in the form of festive celebrations and even processions were performed with a view to receiving  the sacred Tooth Relic back in the Dalada shrine in Kandy. KATARAGAMA - KATARAGAMA RAJA MAHA VIHARAYA Located in close proximity to the Kataragama town, this charming holiday home provides comfortable accommodation in twenty two elegantly furnished, spacious bedrooms.  Each room comes with an attached bathroom with a choice of A/C or Non A/C offered among the rooms. A spectacular view of the golden crops are available from the patio  where one can relax and enjoy a cup of warm tea as the gentle breeze caresses your skin.  The modestly decorated large dining hall greets its quests with mouthwatering vegetarian dishes, prepared by our experienced chefs. While the garden is relatively small, the  colourful flowers in bloom and the surrounding paddy fields add to the beauty and serenity of this charming holiday home. Inside, the cozy living room which also makes for a  TV room is the perfect location to enjoy those quiet evenings.  Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara. - Colombo  Roughly 10 kilometres from the centre of Colombo, the Kelaniya Temple is one of the most well known Buddhist temples in the Colombo area and, in my opinion, one of the  most beautiful in Sri Lanka. Built on the banks of the Kelani River, (which flows from Sri Pada/Adam's Peak), the temple is said to be particularly sacred, as the Buddha  visited the site on his third visit to Sri Lanka.  The Temple Site As you arrive you will pass a multitude of food carts and a large rather dreary looking water feature. After climbing a set of stairs to the temple courtyard you are immediately  greeted with a small water fountain and the main temple building, which soars above you with its beautiful sculptures of carved elephants and Hindu gods and astrological  images. The stark white stupa (dageba) is situated to the right of the temple and the bell tower and the sacred Bodhi tree, adorned with Buddist flags, to the left. There are  people praying by the huge statues and people light wicks in terracotta pots filled with coconut oil.  The Temple Building Inside, the temple building is divided into four sections or 'houses', all of which have a distinctly different style. In one of the houses you will find a seated Buddha statue and  in another, a magnificent reclined Buddha statue and two additional seated Buddhas. Unfortunately, the original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in AD1510, so all of  the paintings are fairly modern (18th and 20th century). Still, the murals that line the walls and ceilings of the temple are incredible, depicting historical scenes of Buddhism  and the major events of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The beauty and detail of the patterns and designs on the temple walls will leave you in awe.  MIHINTALE - MIHINTALE MAHA STUPA  Where Buddhism Blossomed in Sri lanka   Mihintale is only 12 kM away from the famous Anuradhapura city. The sacred forest mountain Missaka Pabbatha where King Devanampiya Tissa met Arhat Mahinda Thera  and his companions is situated in Mihintale. Prior to that the Lord Gautama Buddha had visited this place on his Third visit which was called as Missaka Pabbatha then.  Being one of the sixteen places (Solosmasthana) the Lord Buddha had visited in Sri Lanka, this is regarded as one of the most important sacred places by the Buddhists in  Sri Lanka.  The area of Mihintale surrounds with a jungle and there are rock boulders scattered around the mountainous area. There are many caves which were earlier used by monks  for meditation in a quite surrounding away from the main city of Anuradhapura.  There is abundance of ancient stone architecture surrounding the many Stupas, monastic complexes and other sacred places. Asoka , the Emperor of India who became victorious after fighting a long war was disillusioned and sought Buddha's refuge to heal up his inner self. Becoming an ardent  Buddhist, he let his son and the daughter be ordained as a Bhikku and a Bhikkuni (Buddhist priest and a nun named Mahinda and Sangamitta) whom later became Arhats. Arhath Mahinda and his companions came to Sri Lanka as a delegation sent by Arahath Moggali Putta Tissa with the patronage of Emperor Asoka on the 236 th year of the  Buddha parinirvana. The Sinhalese architecture, paintings and sculpture were a result of the Buddhism which nourished these throughout the centuries that followed. Mihintale architectural feats are mainly visible in Kanthaka chetiya Vahalkada, Alms Hall, Ancient Stairway, Kalu Diya pokuna and at ancient Hospital.  POLONNARUWA - HISTORICAL SITES  Polonnaruwa bears witness to several civilizations, notably that of the conquering Cholas, disciples of Brahminism, and that of the Sinhalese sovereigns during the 12th and  13th centuries. This immense capital created by the megalomaniac sovereign, Parakramabahu I, in the 12th century, is one of history's most astonishing urban creations,  both because of its unusual dimensions and because of the very special relationship of its buildings with the natural setting. It is also a shrine of Buddhism and of Sinhalese  history. The tooth of the Lord Buddha, a remarkable relic placed in the Atadage under Vijabayahu, was considered as the talisman of the Sinhalese monarchy: its removal by  Bhuvanaikabahu II confirmed the decline of Polonnaruwa.  After the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993 by Rajaraja, Polonnaruwa, a temporary royal residence during the 8th century, became the capital. The conquering Cholas  constructed monuments to their religion (Brahmnism), and especially temples to Shiva where fine bronze statues, today in the Museum of Colombo, were found. The  reconquest of Ceylon by Vijayabahu I did not put an end to the city's role as capital: it became covered, after 1070, with Buddhist sanctuaries, of which the Atadage (Temple  of the Tooth Relic) is the most renowned YAPAHUWA - RAJAMAHA VIHARAYA  Strong, dry breezes ruffle the quiet serenity of the temperate country side. Wild grass thrust through pleasantly undulating ground while a lone lizard revels in brilliant  sunshine, poised on one of many ancient stone ruins. Overhead looms the Yapahuwa rock, 300-foot isolated fortified wonder with a history dating back to the 13th Century.  In that era, Yapahuwa was Sri Lanka’s seat of governance and home to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the  Buddha. Today it is one of the country’s most unique and important  sites of historic interest containing abundant traces of ancient battlements and remnants of king Buvenekabahu’s (1273-1284 AD) kingdom. It is also home to the singular Chinese-looking ‘Yapahuwa Lion’ stone sculpture, the likeness of which is reproduced in the country’s newest Rs. 10 note. Historians compare  Yapahuwa to the Sigiriya rock fortress but note that it was built on a much smaller scale.  Its most remarkable masterwork remains an ornamental stairway that conducted the royal palace. Surrounding vistas of breathtaking beauty enriches the climb to the top;  rambling jungle, rolling hills and sunbathed rocks combine to create a picture-perfect tableau. Yapahuwa is in the Pahala-visi-deka Korale, Wanni Hatpattu, of the Northwestern Province. Situated on the outskirts of Kurunegala, it is just three miles from the Maho  railway station. For those choosing the rail option, hop off at the Maho station and either use the bus service that shuttles back and forth or, if adventurous enough, trek  through the scenic countryside.  The right footwear and a sun-hat are recommended for the entire expedition. The Yapahuwa rock rises abruptly from the plains. On its southern and eastern faces, terraces  retained by walls permit access to the summit. The king had enclosed the city with a towering wall and a moat, protecting the palace within. A cave temple was built for monks  at the apex.  It still contains statues of the Buddha and paintings of the Kandyan period.  Unlike Sigiriya, however, the palace was not constructed at the summit of the 91-metre flat-topped crag but on a lower level. Meanwhile, evidence suggests that the  settlement on the rock was more urban than rural. 
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