Yapahuwa is a Sri Lankan city rich in history and lies between Karunagala and Anuradhapura. A short-lived capital of the country in the 13th century, Yapahuwa was the site of preservation of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
Fortifications and a moat surround the Yapahuwa Rock Fortress which limited the access to the city. A steep stairway that probably led to the Temple of the Tooth is the main attraction of this ancient city. The stairway is adorned with exquisite stone carvings; among them, the Yapahuwa Lion is the most popular and is reminiscent of the Chinese Lion. At the top of the staircase stands an imposing stone doorway, which opens into the now-empty temple. Some historians state that this was the site of the royal palace.
For many years after the invasions, the caves at Yapahuwa were inhabited by Buddhist monks. The Yapahuwa Cave Temple houses remnants of Buddhist sculptures and murals. Also, inscriptions have been found at these caves.
The Yapahuwa museum has numerous artefacts of the erstwhile capital on display, the most notable among them being an ornate stone window which decorated the top of the staircase. One can also observe Chinese coins here, evidence of the trade relations of the city with China.
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Yapahuwa has sunny weather all year round and receives very little rain. The best time to visit is from November to January, as the weather is a tad cooler in this period. Arrive early in the morning to explore the site and escape the afternoon heat. The off-season is in March and April, which are the hottest months of the year; at this time, the temperature can even reach 36° C.
Yapahuwa Rock offers beautiful vistas of the surroundings at its summit. The best time to climb the rock is in the early morning or evening; making the ascent at noontime under the scorching sun can be tiring.
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