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An amazing medieval rock fortress built in the 13th century by King Buvanakabahu, Yapahuwa was the palace and the military stronghold against Dravidian invaders. The fortress was built on top of a 90 meter high boulder and consists of a magnificent stairway and a royal entrance with ruins of fine stone carvings.
King Buvanekabahu brought the sacred tooth relic from Dambadeniya and placed it in Yapahuwa to protect it from the invaders. However following the death of Buvanekabahu in 1284, South Indian invaders succeeded in capturing Sri Lanka and took the sacred tooth relic. Four years later King Parakramabahu III recovered the tooth relic and brought it back to Sri Lanka.
The two lion carvings on the sides of the stairway are the most unique elements of Yapahuwa Kingdom. On the top of the rock there are remains of a stupa, and a Bodhigaraya (bothi enclosure) and drip ledged caves used by buddhist monks. It is evident that Yapahuwa has been a monastery before being transformed to a fortress. Following the invasion it has been abandoned and has been used by Buddhist ascetic monks.
Best time to visit is early mornings or evenings, the area gets heated up quite a lot.