a royal capital of erstwhile days, is overlooked by massive rocky outcrops
christened on the names of the animals they resemble: elephant rock,
tortoise rock etc. Etagala, a black rock, is the most famous among these
rocks. Kurunegala served as royal capital only for half a century, beginning
with the reign of Buvanekabahu II (1293-1302) who was followed by
Parakramabahu IV (1302-1326). Tooth Relic Temple of Kurunegla was once very
famous, but now, only the remains of the temple are there. Kurunegala is a
naturally beautiful town with a lake in the middle of the city and colossal
Elephant Rock in the background.
Three earlier capitals sit in the neiguborhood of Kurunegala -
Panduvasnuwara (north - west) with remains of a moated palace and
monasteries from the 12th century, Dambadeniya (south - west, mid-13th
century), and Yapahuwa (north).
The Seven Rocks
Ancient monarchs made this huge water reservoir for the consumption of
Kurunegala Clock Tower
Kurunegala Clock Tower was constructed in the memory of soldiers who fought
valiantly in the World War I. The tower which was built in 1922 was in 1945
dedicated to the officers who died in Second World War.
Maligawa Ancient Ruins
These ancient ruins give us a glimpse of the past glory of Kurunegala.
Whatever has remained of the ancient structures are enough to remind us of
the old glory of the country. Elegant stone entrance, steps, rock pillars
and ruined walls of the royal palace can be seen here. Several tall old
trees can also be witnessed here.
Ridi Vihariya: Ridi Vihariya, 18km off Kurunegala, is known for its ancient
Buddhist temple site with rock cave hermitages and an image house with
Kandyan paintings. Most of Ridi Vihariya has relations to the 18th century.
Those who are interested in architecture can witness Buddha idols, a door
frame elegantly carved and inlaid with ivory, and a curious altar bedecked
by Dutch tiles with Biblical figures. An artificial lake at the foot of the
hills would also interest you.
Arankele is located 24km north of Kuruneglala.
Main attraction here is a 6th century cave hermitage up a forested hillside.
Once meditation halls, stone-faced double platform structures and
ambulatories for the Tapovana (Forest-dwelling) sect were located here.
Ancient Brahmi donative inscription testifies this.
Dambadeniya sits 30km south-west of Kurunegala. It gained prominence in the
mid-13th century when the capital was moved there by Parakramabahu II (1236-
1270) together with the Tooth Relic. Little remains of the palace buildings
now. However 6 ponds can still be seen in Dambadeniya. The 2-storey temple
here is very famous. It has images of Buddha. Few interesting frescos adorn
the temple walls here.
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 is the oldest temple in
the district. Located in northwest direction, it hosts several sites of
historical and conventional importance like the Ektemge and the moated
tower. Princess Unmada Chitra was incarcerated in this tower because of an
ominous prophecy of untimely demise in the family. Tomb of King Vijay lies
in the forest.
How To Reach
Kurunegala is lucky to become an important cross-roads town. It lies on the
route from Kandy to the Puttalam and Colombo to Anuradapura. The town lies
116km from Colombo and 60km from Kandy. It is well-connected to various
places in the country by rail and road. Kurunegala Station is one of the
major railway stations along this railway line.