Revealing Sri Lanka’s Hidden Archeological Treasures
When we talk about ancient sites in Sri Lanka, not everyone will have heard of Yapahuwa, one of the country’s ephemeral capitals. Most visitors to the island flock to Sigirya, an ancient rock fortress in Central Province that is a popular tourist destination, however, its mystique and charm can be a bit of an anti-climax when you discover that the site is often overrun with tourists.
At Khiri Travel Sri Lanka, we love exploring and discovering places with a sense of mysticism that are hidden away off the popular tourist trails.
Lying midway between Kurunagala and Anuradhapura, the citadel of Yapahuwa is built around a huge granite rock that soars up nearly a hundred meters above the surrounding countryside. This was the place where in 1272, King Bhuvenakabahu decided to build a city to protect the Sacred Tooth Relic, the holy symbol that gave kings of medieval Sri Lanka the divine right to rule.
We start by climbing the citadel’s legendary stairs and on the way we are greeted by silent stone lions – the guardians of the Tooth Relic that was eventually captured by the invading Pandyans of South India. Not long after, the city of Yapahuwa was largely abandoned, leaving behind only religious ascetics and Buddhist monks.
During our early morning trip to Yapahuwa, before the sun has even risen, the only sound you can hear is the chirping of birds ushering in the dawn. We are alone at this ancient archeological site and feel humbled as we explore it in silence.
At the top, standing in complete solitude with only the sound of the wind, it is easy to understand why this rock was chosen. The sun slowly starts to rise over the horizon as it did when King Bhuvenakabahu reigned. The courtiers and their ruler have all gone now, leaving behind the aged stones and the sky to rule this ancient place.
If you make the effort to get to Yapahuwa before the break of dawn and watch the sunrise from the top of the hill, the chances are you will be alone, with only the wind and some ancient stupas for company.
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