Kurunegala is the Royal Capital for only half a century, starting with the reign of king Buwanekabahu ii (1293-1302), who was followed by king Parakramabahu IV (1302-1326) AD. This is little left of the Tooth Relic Temple save few stone steps and part of doorway.
Kurunegala is an important cross- Road Town today. It enjoys a pleasant location overlooked by huge rocky outcrops. Some of which have been given names of the animals they resemble; elephant rock, tortoise rock etc… Elephant rock once climbed to the top you can get an excellent view of across the lake. The massive Buddha statue built on top of Elephant rock adds beauty to Kurunegala city.
When the Pollonnaruwa kingdom fell after South Indian invasion, the king Wijayabahu iii established the kingdom here. Hence Dambadeniya is one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals in mid-13th century AD. Dambadeniya Raja Maha Viharaya had been built, and later the sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha had moved there. Excavations have uncovered the remains of the Temple of Tooth Relic and the Royal Palace, Ponds and Garden layouts, moats and city walls also can be found here. There is a Boo Tree called Sapu Bodhi planted by the king here still living still living here for more than 800 years.
Climbing Dambadeniya rock is a worthy experience for a visitors and the view you can get from there will be certainly an unforgettable.
This was known as “Subha Pabbota” in ancient times. It is an ancient kingdom as well as a fortress. When Dambadeniya kingdom fell after king Wijayabahu IV the thrown was taken by prince Buwanekabahu who ruled the kingdom from Yapahuwa. It is considered now as an archeologically important site.
The sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha was brought from Dmbadeniya to Yapahuwa and kept in the specially built place. The ruins of that temple yet can be seen here. Once seeing those ruins we can imagine how wonderful the architecture used here by the ancient engineers. All these are granite creations and delicately done, which is yet unbelievable. Still we can see such a wonderful creation of Proud Lions figure here.
Found here are the ruins of a fortified palace built in the 13th century AD. The palace built out of stone is surrounded by ramparts and two moats, with an ornamental stairway with some well-preserved lion’s image leading to it
PADUWASNUWRA (PARAKRAMA PURAYA)
This is an ancient city set up by king Parakramabahu in 12th century AD, which functioned as capital of Sri Lanka for a very short period. This site contains many ruins of ancient buildings spreading over 20 hectares. Once entering here you would first see the moat and the huge wall of the citadel. It contains remnants of many stupas, image houses, meeting halls, living quart of monks, and some ancient latrines. The round shaped palace inside the circular moat is a prominent feature here. It is believed that this place had several stories.
According to the legends, Panduwasmnuwara in 5th century BC was the capital of king Panduwasadeva who succeeded Vijaya, the first king of Sri Lanka. A forested mountain here has been identified as the Tomb of king Vijaya.
Ridi Vihara is laid out on two cocky hills. An ancient stupa called “Sarasungala Chethiya” has been built on the highest point of the hill. According to the chronicles, this temple has been built during the reign of king Dutugemunu (161-137) BC. The cave inscriptions at Ridi Vihara indicate that the caves were donated by people of all walks of life to support the monks. These caves had been prepared elegantly to house those meditating monks. There are about 38 caves on this hill and most of them had been in scripted with Brahmi Letters. There had been about 500 Arahants (monk who attain Nirvana) living in the caves around Ridi Vihara.
HASTHI KUCCHI FOREST HERMITAGE
This ancient heritage had been a popular retreat center for Buddhist monks during the reign of king Saddathissa, the successor of great king Dutugemunu. There are about over 60 numbers of ancient inscriptions available here, some of them dates back to pre – Christian (3rd century BC). There are 38 drip –ledged rock caves can be seen here.
There are many important ruins found here; circular Relic Chamber built on an elevated platform, eight numbers of stupas, three storied Relic house, refectory, chapter house, image house. Buddha’s Foot Print in a rock slab, a rock slab used by medicinal ….Grinders with cobra figure, an open house for Bodhi Tree and many other unidentified edifices.
Once climbed through a flight of granite steps and reached the top of the rock, you could see a very beautiful rocky pond with cool water under the rock boulders. The panorama view you will get, there is a fantastic experience where you could see Ruwanveliseya (The great Stupa) of Anuradhapura at a long distance.
This is the place where Siri Sangabo a real heir to the throne who was ruling Anuradhapura for two years (251-253 AD) cut his head and donated it to a poor traveller.
ARANKELE FOREST HERMITAGE
It is situated 25 km away from Kurunegala in a middle of a green forest with many species of flora & fauna. There are two opinions, in ancient times this is a forest with hermitages, else this is the Arahath forests, where the last Arahath Maliyadeva Thero lived.
The remnants of some ancient buildings built by king Jettathissa (331-340 AD) can be found here, most significantly the large (64ft*100ft) Steam Bath, which is the oldest of that kind in Sri Lanka.
Arankele is in two parts; the impressive ancient hermitage consists of moats, water ways and stone walls , a complete ancient hospital with granite herbal bath, herb grinders, sick rooms, meditation and preaching halls, a large & beautifully designed steam bath, a circular image house, and a faultless drainage and sanitary system; the other part is the ancient Sakman Maluwa (meditation walk) paved with dressed stone shaded by hoary forest trees.
This Buddhist Monastery is well known for its standing Buddha Statue. This goes back to 3rd century BC., since there are Brahmi Letters in an inscription on one cave. The standing Buddha statue is 39 feet and 4 inches tall and carved out in a natural rock face. This is 5 inches taller than Avukana Buddha statue. There had been 99 caves where the Arahath Theros lived in.
DOLUKANDA HERBAL FOREST
This is situated 700feet above the mean sea level and a unique environment cooler than the other areas of Kurunegala District. There are rare varieties of medicinal plants. This is a mountain range and it is about 6 km long. There are many natural caves on the mountain slope, where monks could be found meditating. Brahmi inscriptions here indicate that the history of this site goes back to the 6th century BC. This mysterious and existing remote site in the jungle is definitely worth visiting.
THONIGALA BRAHMI INSCRIPTION
This rock Thonigala is at Anamaduwa. These inscriptions date back to the 1st century BC. Among these there are several inscriptions of kings of Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa kingdoms. The Thonigala stone Inscription which speaks of a grant made a Buddhist Monastery by the king. It is a remarkable instance of the origin of the Sinhalese language and the art of writing at thousands of years before. It is said to be the longest inscriptions so far found in Sri Lanka. The two inscriptions on the face of the rock are about 100feet long and each letter is about 1 foot in height and carved about 1 inch deep into the rock.
There is another Thonigala Inscription located near Vauniya which famous for the rock inscription that describes a banking system existed during the 4th century AD.