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A kingdom of Ancient Lanka

An ancient fortress and capital built in 1301, approximately 145 km. from Colombo, Yapahuwa is a rock rising to a height of 90 metres.There are many traces of ancient battle defences, but the biggest showpiece is its ornamental stairway. The steps of this stairway are narrow and need to be manoeuvered sideways. According to historians this may be a form of defence as the steps can neither be ascended or descended hastily. Thus it paved the way for those at the top to arm themselves against an enemy onslaught.

At the top of the stairway is a large stone doorway flanked by thick walls and two exquisitely carved windows. During early excavations one window was found in fragments while the other called the Sivumeduru Kawuluwa (perforated palace window) is well preserved. At present it is in the archaeological museum situated at the entrance to the rock fortress. This marvellous piece of work is a slab of stone four feet seven inches thick, while the mouldings within are three inches in thickness. It's surface is punctured with 45 circles through which light once entered the hall.

Yapahuwa is also home to the singular Chinese-looking 'Yapahuwa lion' stone sculpture, the likeness of which is reproduced in the Rs. 10 currency note.

Historians compare Yapahuwa rock with Sigiriya but Yapahuwa was built on a much smaller scale. The Yapahuwa rock and its surrounding area became the capital of Sri Lanka for a short period in the 13 th century. According to chronicles King Bhuvanekabahu I (1273-1284) built his palace on this rock rising loftily on the outskirts of Kurunegala.

The land at the base to the South is fortified with two moats and ramparts.