was only for half a century that Kurunegala remained the royal capital ,
starting with the reign of Buvanekabahu II (1293-1302) followed by
Parakramabahu IV (1302-1326). Today, it is an important cross-roads
town, astride the route from Kandy to the Puttalam and Colombo to
Anuradapura. Overlooked by huge rocky outcrops, it enjoys a pleasant
location .Some of these rocks have been given names of the animals they
resemble:- elephant rock, tortoise rock etc. Situated at the foot of the
325km black rock Etagala there are excellent views of across the lake
from the top. It is also within easy reach of a few sites which are not
frequented by tourists. Except a few stone steps and a part of the
doorway there is little left of the Tooth relic temple here.
Attractions Around Kurunegala
18km north-east of Kurunegala, it is an ancient
Buddhist temple site with rock cave hermitages and an image house with
Kandyan paintings. Among the finds, which mostly date from the 18th
century, are Buddha statues, a door frame beautifully carved and inlaid
with ivory, and a curious altar adorned by Dutch tiles with Biblical
figures. There is an attractive artificial lake at the foot of the
24km north of Kuruneglala, Arankele is home to a 6th
century cave hermitage up a forested hillside. Ancient Brahmi donative
inscription have revealed meditation halls, stone-faced double platform
structures and ambulatories for the Tapovana (Forest-dwelling) sect.
Dambadeniya , lying 30km south-west of Kurunegala,
became prominent in the mid-13th century when the capital was moved
there by Parakramabahu II (1236- 1270) together with the Tooth Relic.
There are little remains of the palace buildings, but 6 ponds are still
there. The 2-storey temple (originally three) , which has images of
Buddha, has been identified as the Vijayasundaramaya. It has some
interesting wall painting dating back to the 18th century, when it was
Lying north of Kurunegala, this is the ancient
fortress and capital built in the year 1301. Yapahuwa is a rock rising
to a height of 90m. Many traces of ancient battle defaces can still be
seen. But the ornamental stairway is its biggest showpiece.
Lying towards the northwest, it is the oldest of
the capitals in the district. It has several sites of historical and
traditional importance like the Ektemge, the moated tower where Princess
Unmada Chitra was confined because of an ominous prophecy of untimely
death in the family. A forested mound has been identified as the tomb of
It can be easily accessed from Colombo, Kandy and Anuradpura by both
rail and road.
Accomodation can be availed at the economical hotels in and around the