Lesser Known Less Visited

Dambadeniya

Dambadeniyais a ruined ancient city situated in the North Western Province (Wayamba), Sri Lanka on the Kurunegala - Negombo road. It served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the mid 13th century. Much of Dambadeniya still lies buried on a huge fortified rock. Dambadeniya is situated about 31 km from Kurunegala, the modern day capital of the North Western Province. It is believed that the Dambadeniya period was the 'Golden Era' of Sinhalese Literature.

History
Dambadeniya, about 30 km south-west of Kurunegala, became prominent in the mid-13th century. It was selected as the capital of the kingdom of Sri Lanka by King Vijayabahu III (1232-36). The sovereignty of the country was at stake as a result of invasions, which dislodged Polonnaruwa as the capital. Vijayabahu, the king of the Dambadeniya dynasty, fought the invaders and established Dambadeniya. On the summit of the Dambadeniya rock he built fortifications and sturdy walls and gates. The city was made secure by a moat, a marsh and ramparts around the royal palace. During the reign of King Parakramabahu (1236-70), Dambadeniya reached the zenith of its glory.

Environs
Little remains of the palace buildings. Excavations have uncovered remains of the temple of the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha, the Royal Palace, gardens, moats, and city walls. The double-story temple of the Tooth Relic has Buddha images, which is identified as the Vijayasundaramaya. It also has some interesting wall paintings dating from the 18th century, when it was restored.
Dhowa Rock Temple

Dhowa rock Temple is one of the heritage sites in Sri Lanka, situated in central mountain of Uva province. Dhowa is small ancient village which is situated on Badulla, Bandarawela main road. This Temple is situated 210 km east of Colombo and 120 km south of Kandy.The Dowa rock temple could be considered as a Mahayana Sculpture with a huge unfinished Buddha image carved into the rock face. The temple dates back to Before Christ times. It has been built safely inside a ring of mountains. A beautiful river is flown across the plateau. Hence, the area had earned the name, Dowa.

History
It is believed, the temple bears a history dating back to about 2,000 years. In the olden days the Dowa Temple was known as the Kumbaltissa Ariyagala Vehera. It had been named after its Chief Priest who had served as a sanctuary for King Walagamba and thus he turned the cave into a temple.The work of the temple had not been completed during the reign of King Walagamba. But the work had been fully completed during the Kandyan Kingdom.

Attraction
The 38 ft rock carved Buddha statue and the ornamental gateway are the main attractions of the temple. The statue is in the state of ruins due to fast decaying. Folk tales hold that the half finished Buddha statue was carved by king Walagamba himself while hiding in these caves due to foreign invasions. The king is said to have left the area before he could finish carving the statue; thus leaving it half finished.

Paintings
The paintings of the shrine room had been decorated with the influence of the Kandyan era. These paintings depict various Jathaka stories. The canopy of the rock is decked with paintings of lotus and various other flowers. And Alsoamong these paintings the Ath-GonSatana (battle between a tusker and a bull) is featured. The priority had been given to the cobra image in the structure of the temple. The cobra had been featured in the paintings as well as on the jug used for serving water to Buddha.

Panduwasnuwara

Panduwasnuwara is an ancient city in the Kurunegala area which functioned as the capital of Sri Lanka for a verybrief period. King Parakramabahu set up his temporary capital in this city during the 12th century.

During this period, Panduwasnuwara was the city housing the sacred tooth relic which was brought back to Sri Lank from India by King Parakramabahu.

Although Panduwasnuwara is not as spectacular a sight as the capital cities Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, it is still worth exploring, if one gets the opportunity.

The site which contains the ruins of ancient buildings is spread over an area of 20 hectares, of which some sectionshave still not been excavated.

The first thing that you will see as you enter the site is the six-meter wide moat (ditch usually filled with water which ran around a castle, protecting it) and the huge wall of the citadel (fort). The compound contains remnants of many dagobas, image houses (pilimage), meeting halls, accommodation quarters for monks and even ancient latrines.

One of the primary features of the site is the restored temple of the tooth with a Bo tree, which is outside the fortified walls. Its original foundation can still be seen, although the elaborately designed roof was restored around the 1970s.

Even though the temple is one of the most important features of the ancient city, the highlight is the round-shaped palace situated inside the circular moat. It is believed to have had several storey's during its heyday and is still a sight to behold. Many legends have been woven around this palace and about the people who are said to have livedthere. Some believe that it imprisoned a princess, the then king's daughter, who had to be shielded from the eyes of men.

It was said that if she married and bore a son, he would kill his seven uncles (the princess' brothers) and ascend the throne.

Another story said that the palace housed the king's wives and that there once was a secret tunnel between this palace and the king's palace, which ran right underneath the moat. Although these are some of the many stories built around the palace, no one knows for sure who built it or who lived there.

The Panduwasnuwara city has a small museum too.
Ritigala

Ritigalais an ancient Buddhist monastery and mountain in Sri Lanka. The ruins and rock inscriptions of the monastery date back to 1st century BCE. It is located 43 km away from the ancient monastic city of
Anuradhapura.

Ritigala Mountain
At 766 m above sea level, and 600 m above the surrounding plains, Ritigala is the highest mountain in northern Sri Lanka. The modern name Ritigala is derived from the ancient name ArihaPabbata(Dreadful Mountain), mentioned in the Mahavamsa.

Ritigala mountain range
Ritigala mountain range consists of four peaks of which the main and the highest peak at the south of the range is named Ritigala Kanda. Ritigala mountain range, a 3776-acre (1582 ha) Strict Nature Reserve, in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka, is managed by the Department of Wildlife of Sri Lanka together with the Forest Department of Sri Lanka.

Ritigala Kanda
Ritigala Kanda rises to an elevation of 2513 feet, higher than the other main tourist attractions of the north central plains, namely Sigiriya, Dambulla and Mihintale. The significance of this topographical feature lies in the abrupt sheerness of the massif, its wooded slopes and wet microclimate at the summit. During the North East monsoon (December to February), Ritigala experiences the highest rainfall (125 cm) of entire dry zone. The wet micro climate at Ritigala is a singular occurrence in the north central plains, the ancient Sri Lanka's "WeweBandi Rata" meaning "the land of rainwater reservoirs" in Sinhalese.

Climate of Ritigala
The climate at the summit is in sharp contrast to the climate at the foot; it is cooler in comparison to hot and dry climate of the region. Its rainfall records the highest in the whole of dry zone surrounding it by a good margin during the northeast monsoon of dry zone of the tropical island of Sri Lanka. The mist and cloud cover which encapsulate the summit during the south-west monsoon of Wet Zone of the island, results in high vapor condensation, in turn, turning the earth moist when the plains all around are in drought.

Legends
Legends abound on Ritigala. One of mysterious aspect is the belief of powerful medicinal herbs found near the crest. A herb called "Sansevi" is believed to have the power of conferring long life and curing all human pain. According to legend, all vegetation on Ritigala is protected by Yakkas, the guardian spirits of the mountain. The venerable Prof. Walpola Sri RahulaMahaThera (1907-1997), a Professor of History and Religions at Northwestern University, a Buddhist monk scholar, in his "History of Buddhism in Ceylon, says" the term "Yaksa" denotes superhuman beings worthy of respect. It is possible that it was applied, by an extension of meaning, also to some pre-Buddhistic tribe of human beings, aboriginal to Ceylon". The legend has it that Prince Pandukhabaya (3rd century BC) was assisted by Yakkas during his battles against his eight uncles at the foot of Ritigala. Another legend refers to a duel of two giants, most possibly Yakkas, named Soma and Jayasena. Soma being killed in the duel, Jayasena became a legend.

The lone long-ranger of Ritigala
According to popular belief, non-human Lord Hanuman of supernatural powers, traveled over Ritigala, and, by accident, dropped a chunk off a mountain of the Himalaya range he was carrying from India to Lanka for itsmedicinal herbs. Lord Rama's brother, Prince Lakshmana was mortally wounded in battle and only a rare herb in theHimalaya could save his life. The pocket of vegetation of healing herbs and plants at the strange mini-plateau at the summit of Ritigala, which is distinct from the dry-zone flora of the lower slopes and surrounding plains at Ritigala, could thus be accounted for.

Lord Hanuman seeks Sita
Lord Hanuman has visited Lanka on a previous occasion. That was when he was sent by Lord Rama in search of his consort Sita. It was King Ravana, a devotee of God Siva, who seized Sita from Parnasali in India, the holy hut of Lord Rama and brought her to AsokVana, a beautiful park at SeethaEliya (close to NuwaraEliya or Little England, as the British called it three millennia later) on the Pusparaga(Dadumonara) in an air chariot, without touching her. (The peacock logo of Air Lanka, the predecessor of SriLankan Airlines and successor of Air Ceylon, is a stylized version of Rawana's air chariot.) Having found the location where Sita was held, Hanuman made use of RitigalaKanda as a launching pad to take a leap across to South India. Incidentally, Ritigala is the highest prominence between the central plains of Sri Lanka and the coast of southern India.

Ruins of the ancient monastery of Ritigala, Sri Lanka
The ruins of Ritigala monastery are located on the eastern side of the mountain at the foot of the gorge which separates the main peak from the northern ridge of the range. The ruins cover an area of 24 hectares (59 acres). The monastery precinct begins at the office of the on-site branch of Department of Archeology of Sri Lanka close to the foot of the reservoir named Banda Pokuna. The ancient man-made reservoir is a feat of engineering with a bund of polygonal plan completing a circumference of 366 meters. The construction of the reservoir is credited to King Pandukabhaya (437 -367 BC). The reservoir possibly served a ritual bathing purpose, with visitors bathing there before entering the monastery. The order of ritual bathing tank, ruins of entrance complex and a pedestrian path seem to indicate devotees in large numbers visiting the monastery. The procession is similar to that of Kataragama where pilgrims begins with a cleansing bath at KataragamaManik river and end with an offering to the God Skanda, the benevolent Hindu deity of Kataragama at the main shrine. The edge of the reservoir is followed in a clockwise direction to arrive at the other bank, and cross the bed of the stream feeding the reservoir. The steep steps here onwards lead up to a beautifully constructed pavement, a stone path 1.5 meters wide that meander upwards through the forest, linking the major buildings of the monastery. The stone cut path is laid with interlocking four-sided slabs of hewn stone. Three large circular platforms at intervals along the pavement allow for rest.

Stone bridges, raised platforms and courtyards
There are stone structures named double-platforms, which are characteristic of Ritigala and other forest monasteries such as Arankele, Veherabandigala and the western monasteries at Anuradhapura. Spreads over an area of about 120 acres are about 50 such double platforms. Raised platforms formed by retaining walls of massive stones are found in pairs, linked together by a stone bridge. The main axis of the combined platforms is set exactly east west. The structures were then most possibly roofed and divided into rooms. These are believed to be used for solitary practices such as meditation, as well as congregational functions such as teaching and ceremony. Over a stone bridge lie interlocking ashlars and the ruins of a monastery hospital, where the medicinal herbs-leaves and roots-grinding stones and huge stone cut Ayurvedic oil baths can still be seen. The pavement continues straight ahead to reach one of the roundabouts. About 20 meters before reaching the roundabout, a path heads off to the right, leading through enormous tree roots to a lookout, reached by a stone high above a burbling stream. Further up is another lookout. Then is found an artificial waterfall contrived by placing a stone slab between two rocks. Another 500 meters and two further sunken courtyards are seen. The first courtyard contains a large double platform structure, one of the largest stone structures in the entire monastery; one of the platforms preserves the remains of the pillars which once supported a building. A few meters beyond lies the second courtyard and another large double platform.

Extreme austerity at Ritigala Monastery
With the exception of a few broken granite Buddha statues in a number of caves, Ritigala have none of the traditional icons of Buddhist temples: no bodhi tree, no stupas. The first Lanka Vihare (temple) was founded near Ritigala at the foot of the mountain in the second century BC. The ArittaVihare was founded a century afterwards. Royals proved generous patrons. In the ninth century AD, King Sena made endowment of the monastery, a larger complex higher up the slope for a group of Buddhist ascetics called the Pansukulikas (rag robes) monks who devoted themselves to extreme austerity in search of supreme enlightenment. Such was the detachment of these Buddhist ascetics from the traditional life of Buddhist monks at village temples, their robes were simply cleaned, washed and repaired rags, mostly shrouds picked up from cemeteries, in line with one of the thirteen ascetic practices (Dhutanga) outlined in Buddhism.

Decorated urinals: symbolic act of dissociation with ritualistic excesses
The only example of representational carving to be found at Ritigala is in the form of decorated urinals that consist of urine cup, drain hole and foot supports. It is believed that these decorated stones were meant to depict the architectural and ritualistic excesses of the orthodox monastic chapters to which the Pamsukuilikaa (monks devoted to extreme austerity) were opposed. It is also argued that the act of urination on decorated urinal stones was for them a symbolic act of dissociation.
Yapahuwa

Yapahuwawas 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 Bhuvenakabahuin 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.

Location and Name
The rock fortress complex of Yapahuwais situated in the Wayamba province of Sri Lanka. About 4 km southeast of the town and railway station of Maho, midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. The original name of this Buddhist Heritage site is Yapawwathough now often called as Yapahuwa which is a kind of distortion of its genuine etymological sense.

History
Yapahuwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 13th century (1273-1284). Built on a huge, 90 meter high rock boulder in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress, Yapahuwa was a palace and military stronghold against foreign invaders. The palace and fortress were built by King Buvanekabahu I (1272-1284) in the year 1273. Many traces of ancient battle defences can still be seen, while an ornamental stairway is its biggest showpiece. On top of the rock are the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, and a rock shelter/cave used by Buddhist monks, indicating that earlier this site was used as a Buddhist monastery, like many boulders and hills in the area. There are several caves at the base of the rock. In one of them there is a shrine with Buddha images. One cave has a Brahmi script inscription. At the southern base of the rock there is a fortification with two moats and ramparts. In this enclosure there are the remains of a number of buildings including a Buddhist shrine. There is also a Buddhist temple called Yapawwa Rajamaha Vihara built during the Kandyan period. The Tooth Relic was brought from Dambadeniya and kept in the Tooth Temple built for the purpose at the top of the third staircase. The relics were carried away from the temple here to South India by the Pandyas, and then recovered in 1288 by Parakkramabahu III (1287-1293), who temporarily placed them in safety at Polonnaruwa.

Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka. The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Anuradhapura and Kurunegala 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 Bhuvenakabahuin 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.

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