Sri Lanka | Yapahuwa, the forgotten capital protected by lions

Yapahuwa was the ancient capital for a very short time in fact only 12 years.This was an extremely turbulent time for the Sinhalese kingdom was falling because of a mixture intrigue, a betrayal and invasions from the south of India.

Recognizing the defensive potential of Yapahuva, the King Buvenekabahu I decided to build the capital there. He built a  fortress with a double line of defensive walls separated by a moat. Inside the fortification, at the foot of solid rock, was the Royal Palace and the Royal Council Chamber.

Widok ze świątyni , Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka
View of Royal Council Chamber, Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka

Here you will find an unusual stone staircase, that still exists today. The staircase leads to the above-grounded Sacred Tooth Temple. Two stone lions look from the top. A nearby valley give us a nostalgic  glimpse of the short time of splendor of this once ancient capital.

Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka, Skała na której mieściła się forteca
The rock in Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka,

It was a hot January morning when we arrived to Yapahuwa. An empty parking lot, and a small ticket office in the corner. On the way to the modest museum, we were accompanied only by a gang of curious monkeys. Compared often with Sigiriya, the rock fortress in Yapahuwa gives way to the former, both with greatness and popularity. The lack of crowds is an undoubted advantage. We wander pass a few old fortifications, overgrown by time and nature. The road leads to a bare lonely rock which suddenly rises over the tops of the trees.

Yapahuwa, dawne umocnienia

We stand in front of the stone stairs. From the bottom it seems that they lead straight into the rock. On the top was the Temple of the Buddha Tooth. Anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the holiest relic, a sign of the highest authority in the kingdom,  had to overcome these stairs.

Yapahuwa, Schody do Swiątyni Zęba
Yapahuwa, The stairway to the Temple of the Buddha Tooth

The first short stage is the 24 steps, at first seemingly easy to climb, however the steps are so small that you have to walk with your feet sideways. The next stage is much longer but also much steeper, supposedly set at 70 degrees. We walk slowly, step by step,  in our own  way  overcome the next 65 steps. I wonder how soldiers defeated them when they attacked Yapahuwa in full battle gear. A stairway restrained by stone handrails, narrows upwards. It is yet another barrier for the hill invaders. Now we are at another platform, one moment of rest and we attack the last part, which is guarded by two stone lions.

Yapahuwa, średniowieczna stolica Sri lanki
The entrance to the Temple, Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka
Wejście do świątyni, Yapahuwa,Sri Lanka
The entrance to the Temple, Yapahuwa,Sri Lanka

This is the most beautiful part, a real mastery of sculptural art, opening the entrance to the temple that used to be here. Today, only a little remains of the sacred place. It was first destroyed by the Indian invaders, then by the Portuguese, and the rest  destroyed by time and mother nature.
A year after the death of King,  Yapahuwa was captured and destroyed, and the holy relic was taken by India. After nearly four years of diplomatic efforts, it returned to Island again, but not to Yapahuwa.

From this place which was once a temple, a rocky path leads to the top. There are ruins of a stupa, and a small natural water pond nearby. A pleasant blowing breeze gives a freeling of wonderful solace, and unrestricted vista in reward for the whole ordeal of climbing.

Yapahuwa, Caves where lived monks 
Yapahuwa, Droga na szczyt Góry
Yapahuwa, Way to the top
Yapahuwa, stupa i jeziorko na szczycie
Yapahuwa, stupa and lake on the top
Yapahuwa, Widok ze szczytu
Yapahuwa, View from the top

Some tips:

  • The ticket, including a small museum, US $ 4
  • You can visit this place from 7 am to 5 pm – 17, without of Poya Day and public holidays
  • Good place to stay, a hotel in Anuradaphura: Green View Resort

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *