A forty-five minute drive from The Mudhouse, Yapahuwa is one of Sri Lanka’s best preserved and least visited ancient capitals.
Dating from the 13th century, Yapahuwa was built in the style of Sigirya and stands resplendently above a 90 metre tall rock. Yapahuwa was a royal palace and a military fortress, originally constructed by King Buvanekabahu in 1273.
As with many ancient sites in Sri Lanka, Yapuhwa was later used as a Buddhist monastery and its history and significance are entwined in a web of monarchistic and religious influences from different periods of Sri Lankan history. Indeed, Yapahuwa was also used to house the sacred tooth relic for a period – Sri Lanka’s most treasured Buddhist relic. There are a number of caves at the base of the rock with some interesting shrines, moats and ramparts.
However, Yapahuwa’s most distinguishable and striking feature is the giant stone staircase and carved lion statues (easily recognisable from their prominent appearance on the current 10 rupee bank note). This staircase was purpose built to access the shrine room where the relic was housed.
It is possible to climb all the way to the summit and appreciate the spectacular 360 degree views. Vertigo sufferers may find this a bit of a challenge though! A couple of hours is usually enough to explore the site and small museum.
For this trip we would usually arrange a picnic lunch to be taken at a nearby river. A local guide is booked to us the tour of Yapahuwa. Please note, there is a small additional charge for this excursion. Contact us for more details.