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Buddhist temple KurunegalaIt 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
Ridi Vihariya: 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 hills.

Arankele: 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: 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 restored.

Yapahuwa: 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.

Panduwasnuwara: 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 king Vijay.

Getting There
It can be easily accessed from Colombo, Kandy and Anuradpura by both rail and road.

Staying
Accomodation can be availed at the economical hotels in and around the city.