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Kurunegala

 

Arankele is easily accessible 25 Km from Kurunegala. The fascinating sixth century Buddhist forest hermitage of Arankele is where the monk Maliyadewa and other hermits lived in solitude and meditation. Arankele is in two parts – The impressive ancient hermitage consists of moats ,waterways and stone walls, a complete ancient hospital with stone herbal bath, herb-grinder, sick rooms ,meditation and preaching halls, a large and beautifully designed bath, a circular shrine and a faultless drainage and sanitary system and the ancient sakman maluwa, the remarkable “meditation walk paved with dressed stone ,shaded by hoary forest trees.

Dambadeniya

One of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals in the mid – 13th  century. Excavations have uncovered remains of the temple of the tooth relic and the Royal Palace, ponds and Garden layouts moats and city walls. This was the Kingdom of King Vijayabahu the (III) (1232-36).The King of the Dambadeniya dynasty fought the invaders and established Dambadeniya. Dambadeniya Rajamaha Vihara had been built by this king and the king Parakramabahu (II) (1236-1271)had lodged the sacred Tooth Relic in this capital.

Ethkanda RajamahaViharaya

Ethkanda monastery situated in the city of Kurunegala ,is a sacred shrine .It was here that the Pansiya panas Jathaka Katha(Five Hundred and fifty birth tales),one of the greatest works sinhala Literature ,was translated .The original Ola leaf version of this work is still preserved at this monastery. This work had been done during the reign Parakramabahu (IV)  .Visitors can reach this temple by traveling about 150m from the town on the Kurunegala-Kandy

Hassthi Kucchi Forest Hermitage

To reach here visitors have to go along the Kurunegala – Anuradhapura road and from Galgamuwa about fivek Km to the hermitage. This hermitage had been a popular retreat centre for Buddhist monks during the reign of King Saddhatissa, the successor of king Dutugemunu. There are many rock caves used by monks. There are many ruins of circular relic house, chapter house, dagabas, image house, alms hall and many other unidentified edifices. This is the place where king Siri Sangabo, a righteous king who was ruling Anuradhapura for two years (251-253)cut his head and donated it to a poor man. Gotabhaya who forced king Siri Sangabo to abdicate and took his throne had offered the public a large price for the head of Siri Sangabo.

Padeniya Raja Maha Viaharaya

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya has a wealth of fascinating medieval antiquities. Twenty eight magnificent carved pillars and an elaborately decorated door adorns the main Shrine. An ancient clay image house and library, a slate for teaching children and preaching hall with unusual carved pulpit are the treasures of this place.

Panduwasnuwara

Panduwasnuwara is an ancient city in the North Western Province which functioned as the capital of Sri Lanka for a very brief period. King parakramabahu set up his temporary capital in this city during the 12th century. Although Panduwasnuwara in not as spectacular a sight as the capital cities Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, it is still worth exploring .The site which contains the ruins of ancient building is spread over an area of 20 hectares, of which some sections have still not been excavated.

The first thing that visitors can see as enter the site is the six-meter wide moat and the huge wall of the citadel. The compound contains remnants of many dagobas, images houses, meeting halls, accommodation quarters for monks and even ancient latrines.

 

Even though the temple is one of the most important features of the ancient city, the highlight is the round –shaped palace situated inside the circular moat. It is believed to have had several storey’s during its heyday and is still a sight to behold .Many legends have been woven around this palace and about the people who are said to have lived there. some believe that it imprisoned a princess, the then king Panduvasdeva’s daughter, Unmadachitra(King Abhaya’s mother)who had to be shielded Panduwasdeva, who succeededVijaya, the first king of Sri Lanka(circa 5th century B.C)A forested mound is also identified as the tomb of king Vijaya.

Ridi Vihare

Ridi Vihare is laid out on two rocky hills and on its highest point is an ancient dagaba,the Sarasungala Chethiya .According to the chronicles the Ridi Vihare had been built during the reign of Dutugemunu(161-137 BC)The Ridi Vihare complex consists of many parts,caves, Varaka Valona Vihare, Chetiya ,Uda Vihare, Maha Vihare, Hevisi Mandape, Bodiya , Vahalka, Stairway from Ridigama, Bana Maduwa, Sarasungala Chethiya, Poyage, Bodhi Tree, Avasage and new Bana Maduwa.

Ridi Vihare inscriptions indicate that the caves were donated by people of all walks of life to support the monks. The caves had been prepared at great cost and with considerable labor to house these meditating monks. According to prof. J B Dissanayake, there are at least 25 caves on this hill and most of those contain Brahmi letters carved into them. There had been about five hundred monks in the caves around Ridi Vihare.

Ruins of Kurunegala Dalada Maligawa

The ruins of the Maligawa can be seen nearby the Government Agent’s bungalow. It is surrounded by huge trees. This was built during the reign of King Parakramabahu IV (CE1302-1326,Kurunegala Kingdom)

Thonigala Brahmi Inscription

The rock Thonigala is at Anamaduwa, about two Kilometers from town, on the Puttalam Kurunegala(A10)road between the 100-101 Km posts.These inscriptions date back to the first century BC to the reign of Mahachuli Mahatissa, who reigned from 50 BC to 47BC.The king was the son of king Walagamba ,who reigned from 89 BC to 77 BC.Among these, there are several inscriptions of kings of the days of the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Kingdoms. The Thonigala stone inscription which speaks of a grant made to a Buddhist Monastry is a remarkable instance of the origin of the Sinhalese languages and the art of writing thousands of years ago. It is said to be the largest inscriptions found in Sri Lanka so far. The largest inscription of the rock area about 100 feet long and each letter is about 1 feet in height and carved about 1 inch deep in to the rock. There is another Thonigala – Horowpathana Road which is famed for the rock inscription that describes an banking system that existed during the 4th century.

Yakgirilen Purana Viharaya

The drip ledge cave with Inscriptions, drip ledged cave viharaya with inscriptions, located on Kurunegala – Puttalam road. All over this place there are huge rocks.

Yapahuwa

The fortress of Buvanekabahu.you can reach Yapahuwa when you travel from Kurunegala to Anuradhapura via Padeniya and turn from Daladagama Junction.

Found here are the ruins of a fortified palace believed to have been built by Buvanekabahu I in the 13th century. The palace built of stone is surrounded by ramparts and two moats, with an ornamental stairway with some well preserved lions leading to it.

 

When the Dambadeniya Kingdom fell after king Wijayabahu IV ,the throne was taken by Prince Buwanekabahu who ruled the kingdom from Yapahuwa. The Sacred tooth Relic was brought from Dambadeniya to Yapahuwa and kept in the specially built palace .The ruins of this temples can be seen to day and is considered an archeologically valuable site.