Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka. The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Kurunagala and Anuradhapura was built around a huge granite rock rising abruptly almost a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands.

In 1272, King Bhuvenakabahu transferred the capital from Polonnaruwa to Yapahuwa in the face of Dravidian invasions from South India, bringing the Sacred Tooth Relic with him. Following the death of King Bhuvenakabahu in 1284, the Pandyans of South India invaded Sri Lanka once again, and succeeded in capturing Sacred Tooth Relic. Following its capture, Yapahuwa was largely abandoned and inhabited by Buddhist monks and religious ascetics.

Yapahuwa a site that slould not to be missed though it is located 46 km north of Kurunegala; half-way to Anuradhapura. It is a massive 100 metre high rock with a golden history that rises dramatically above the surrounding area as magnificent as Sigiriya.

Yapahuwa was ruled by Buvenekabahu-the first (1272 – 84), the younger son of Parakramabahu-the second, who moved the royal capital from Dambadeniya to Yapahuwa which was regarded as a stronger base. The symbol of Yapahuwa is the beautiful ornamental stairway that climbs to a natural terrace where the tooth and alms bowl relic of the Lord Buddha were once kept. There are three flights of very steep stairs, of which the last is flanked by stone carvings of lions leading to an ancient stone doorway. Passing through this doorway you will witness the ruins of the building which was once used to house the Sacred Tooth Relic. The base of this massive rock is a shaded circular path that takes you past stone walls, moats and ramparts. The setting is beautiful and there are many colourful birds and butterflies to be seen as you stroll around.

Unfortunately, Yapahuwa was only a royal capital for a short time since it was abandoned after the invading Pandyans of southern India who seized the Sacred Tooth Relic. Soon after Bhuvanekabahu’s death in 1284, It is said that Parakramabahu-the third, his successor, in 1288 went to the Pandyan court in India and successfully negotiated the return of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It was brought eventually to Polonnaruwa after a brief stint in Kurunegala.

There is a museum near the entrance housing many relics discovered at the site. There are statues, and Chinese coins that suggest there were diplomatic relations with China at the time. The most important relics have been removed to the Colombo Museum, though there is an exquisite granite window intricately carved with dancers and animals that protected the tooth relic.

Coordinates: 7°49′N 80°19′ECoordinates: 7°49′N 80°19′E
Country Sri Lanka
Province North Western Province
Time zone Sri Lanka Standard Time Zone (UTC+5:30)
• Summer (DST) Summer time (UTC+6)