Yapahuwa Rock Fortress tour
The main attraction of Yapahuwa is the steep ornamental staircase, flanked by sculptures of lions and the ancient walls with their sculptured female figurines.
During the 13th century, when Bhuvanekabahu was king, Yapahuwa was the capital of the island and home to the sacred tooth relic. The formidable rock fortress sits on a granite outcrop that raises high above the surrounding plains forming an impressive defence for its ruler.
Yapahuwa was eventually captured by the Indians in the last 13th century who took the tooth relic to South India (the relic was recaptured just four years later and brought back to Sri Lanka).
The ornamental staircase is the main attraction in Yapahuwa. The original staircase comprised of three flights of stairs but today the lower portion is made up of recent concrete steps where the original has decayed. The walls on either side of the steep staircase are decorated with female figures and impressive lion sculptures sit guard. One of the lion sculptures is the same one used on the Sri Lankan Rs10 note.
At the top of the staircase sits the impressive doorway that used to lead into the Temple of the Tooth, once home to sacred Buddha tooth relic. All that remains of the ancient temple within the doorway are the original foundations.
Those travelling to Yapahuwa on their Sri Lankan tour can, if they wish, trek up the step path to the right of the temple which leads to the top of the rock and has some truly amazing views over the surrounding ruins and plains. Also, at the top of the rock you will find the caves that were once inhabited by monks in the centuries prior to Yapahuwa becoming the capital. Some of the caves include shrines, Buddha imaginary and inscriptions.
The museum for Yapahuwa is located a short distance away from the staircase and is well worth a visit to see the collection of ancient stone sculptures, carvings and pottery.