Kurunegala is a city located in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. It holds significant heritage and archaeological importance due to its rich historical and cultural past.Kurunegala was the capital city of the medieval Sinhalese kingdom known as Kurunegala Kingdom. Established in the 13th century by King Buvanekabahu II, the kingdom flourished until the 14th century. The city served as a center of political, administrative, and cultural activities during this period.

The heritage and archaeological importance of Kurunegala make it a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts, archaeologists, and tourists interested in exploring Sri Lanka’s rich past. The city’s historical landmarks, ancient temples, and archaeological sites provide a glimpse into the ancient civilization that once thrived in the region, making it a valuable cultural and historical treasure.

Here are some key aspects of Kurunegala’s heritage and archaeological significance:

Ridi Viharaya / Silver Temple

Ridi Viharaya, also known as the Silver Temple, is a significant Buddhist temple located in the Kurunegala District of Sri Lanka.

Historical Significance: Ridi Viharaya is believed to have a history dating back over 2,000 years. It is said to have been established during the reign of King Dutugemunu (2nd century BCE), a renowned ancient Sri Lankan king. The temple holds great historical and religious significance in Sri Lanka.

Relic of the Buddha: Ridi Viharaya is famous for housing a sacred relic believed to be a hair relic of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This relic is enshrined in a stupa (dagoba) within the temple premises, making it a revered place of worship for Buddhists.

Architectural Style: The temple exhibits traditional Sinhalese Buddhist architectural elements. It features intricate carvings, elaborate paintings, and statues that showcase the artistic craftsmanship of ancient Sri Lankan artisans.

Ridi Asthana: Ridi Viharaya is known for its unique architectural feature called “Ridi Asthana.” It is a stone platform adorned with intricate carvings of animals, mythical creatures, and other decorative motifs. This platform is believed to have been used by royalty and dignitaries to witness important ceremonies and events.

Visiting Ridi Viharaya provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. The temple’s historical significance, sacred relic, unique architectural features, and serene atmosphere make it a noteworthy destination for spiritual seekers and those interested in Sri Lankan culture and Buddhism.


Historical Significance: Yapahuwa served as a royal capital and fortress during the 13th century. It was established by King Buvanekabahu I, who moved the capital from Polonnaruwa to Yapahuwa. The kingdom of Yapahuwa played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s history during that period.

Rock Fortress: Yapahuwa is situated on a massive rock outcrop, similar to Sigiriya and Dambulla. The natural rock formation provided a strategic advantage for defense and protection.

Architectural Features: The fortress complex of Yapahuwa consists of several structures built on different levels of the rock. The main attraction is the elaborate entrance gateway known as the “Yapahuwa Lion Gate,” which features stone carvings of lions. Other architectural remains include a palace complex, a stupa (dagoba), image houses, and other structures.

At the top of the rock, there is a stupa that holds religious significance. Nearby, you can find an image house housing statues of the Buddha and other deities, showcasing the religious aspect of the ancient capital.

Yapahuwa features a unique water management system, including an impressive elephant-shaped pond carved out of stone. This pond was used to store water and supply it to the palace complex and surrounding areas.

Yapahuwa is known for its cultural and artistic heritage. The ruins bear witness to the architectural and sculptural achievements of the time, with intricate carvings and designs reflecting the craftsmanship of the ancient Sri Lankan artisans.

Climbing to the top of Yapahuwa offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The elevated position of the fortress allows visitors to appreciate the natural beauty and landscapes of the area.

Arankele Monastery

Location: Arankele Monastery is situated in the Arankele village, which is approximately 30 kilometers southeast of Kurunegala city. It is nestled amidst lush greenery and natural surroundings, providing a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

Historical Significance: The monastery has a rich history that dates back to the ancient Anuradhapura period (3rd century BCE to 10th century CE). It is believed to have been established during the reign of King Mahasen (3rd century CE). The monastery flourished as a center for Buddhist learning and meditation during this time.

Arankele Monastery is known as a forest monastery (Aranya). It follows the traditional Theravada Buddhist monastic practices and emphasizes meditation and seclusion in a natural forest environment.

Cave Dwellings: Arankele Monastery features a complex of natural caves that serve as dwelling places for monks. These caves, carved into the rocks, provide simple and secluded living quarters for meditation and spiritual contemplation.

Within the monastery premises, you may find ancient ruins such as stupa foundations, stone pillars, and remnants of ancient structures, reflecting the past glory of the monastery.

The monastery is situated in a picturesque location surrounded by forests and lush greenery. The natural beauty of the area adds to the peaceful ambiance and provides a conducive environment for meditation and introspection.

Panduwasnuwara Ancient Kingdom

Historical Significance: Panduwasnuwara was an important city during ancient times, believed to have been the capital of the island during the reign of King Panduvasdeva in the 4th century BCE. It served as a royal capital for several centuries and played a significant role in the country’s history.

The site of Panduwasnuwara contains the ruins of various structures that reflect the ancient architectural styles and urban planning. These include remnants of palaces, temples, monastic complexes, and other buildings, offering insights into the civilization and culture of the time.

The royal palace of Panduwasnuwara was the residence of the ruling monarchs. Although now in ruins, the remains provide a glimpse into the grandeur and layout of the ancient palace complex.

Image House and Temple: The ancient kingdom is known for its image house, which is believed to have housed important religious statues and artifacts. The temple complex, along with its architectural features, provides evidence of the religious practices and beliefs prevalent during the ancient period.

Visiting Panduwasnuwara offers the opportunity to explore the ancient remains and gain a deeper understanding of Sri Lanka’s rich history. The archaeological site provides a glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to appreciate the achievements and legacy of the ancient kingdom.

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya is situated in the Padeniya area, which is in the Kurunegala District of the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. It is located approximately 20 kilometers southeast of the city of Kurunegala.

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya has a long history dating back several centuries. It is believed to have been founded during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great (12th century CE). The temple has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years, reflecting the influence of different architectural styles.

The shrine hall often showcases intricate woodwork and traditional architectural elements. The temple might showcase wall paintings and murals that depict various scenes from Buddhist mythology, Jataka tales (stories of the Buddha’s previous lives), and other significant events in Buddhism. These artworks provide visual storytelling and add to the cultural and aesthetic value of the temple.

Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya might house relics and artifacts of religious and historical importance. These could include sacred relics associated with Buddhism, ancient manuscripts, and other items of significance to the temple’s history.

Athugala (Elephant Rock)

Athugala is located in Kurunegala, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. It is a prominent rock formation that resembles an elephant’s back, giving it the name Elephant Rock.

There is a large Samadhi Buddha statue overlooking the city of Kurunegala.

Athugala offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a popular spot for visitors. The elevated location of the rock provides a panoramic view of Kurunegala and its surroundings, allowing for stunning photo opportunities.

There are steps carved into the rock, enabling visitors to climb to the top of Athugala. The ascent can be steep and require some effort, but the rewarding views make it worthwhile.

Athugala (Elephant Rock) is a notable landmark in Kurunegala, offering picturesque views and an opportunity to explore the cultural and historical aspects of the region. It is worth visiting for its natural beauty, rock inscriptions, and the unique rock formation resembling an elephant’s back.

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