Yapahuwa between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura is famous for Sri Lanka’s most ornate ancient stairway with excellent sculptural decorations. Due to the location of the former fortified city at and on a rock, Yapahuwa is sometimes called “Sri Lanka’s second Sigiriya”. Actually, it could be also called a “Little Dambulla”, because a typical Sinhalese cave temple with paintings and sculptures from the Kandyan period can be seen on ground level. The monastery, reestablished by Kandy’s King Rajadhi Rajasinha in the late 18th century, is called Yapawwa Raja Maha Viharaya, Yapawwa being the more accurate but less known transliteration of Yapahuwa. The living monastery actually is highly important for safekeeping and maintaining the entire archaeological site in Yapahuwa. When asked for the key, the monks or helpers are usually very kind to allow visitors to enter the main cave temple. The roofed front room of the main image hall and Buddhist cave is gaudily painted. But historical paintings and sculptures can be found in the main cave of Yappawa Rajamaha Vihara.The murals in the caves are mainly from the 18th century and restored with additional blue colour much later, presumably as late as in the second half of the 20th century. But traces of earlier paintings can be found. And the typical themes of the Kandyan paintings were not changed during the restoration. The main shrine in the rear of the cave has a large sitting Buddha and a bronze sculpture from the late 13th century, the period when Yapahuwa was Sri Lanka’s capital.
Yapahuwa is a multi-faceted heritage attraction in a magnificent natural setting, a historical site representing various periods of history, with monastic cave dwellings and a stupa from the Anuradhapura period, a fortified city and palace and tooth temple from the Middle Ages and a Kandyan temple. If you come to visit this less-crowded place of interest and have enough time, don’t miss to visit the living monastery and its Kandyan cave temple, too.
Our Yapahuwa main page provides much more detailed descriptions of all the attractions of the rock and citadel and temple. But please understand and excuse: It could take some time to load the page, due to the high number of comparitively large images. To see them, please click here...
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,