Welcome to Yapahuwa


There has been a Buddhist monastery at Yapahuwa since the 3rd century BC, but the site hit its zenith between 1272 and 1284, when King Bhuvanekabahu I used the rock fortress as his capital and housed Sri Lanka’s sacred Buddha tooth relic here. Indians from the Pandavan dynasty captured Yapahuwa in 1284 and carried the tooth relic to South India, only for it to be recovered four years later by King Parakramabahu III. From this point onwards the capital shifted to Kurunegala.


Top experiences in Yapahuwa

Travel guides

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Yapahuwa activities

$56 Day Trips & Excursions

Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Panduwasnuwara: Private Ancient Cities

You will be starting your tour at 6:00am when you get picked up from your hotel in Colombo. You will be taking 2 hours to travel to your first destination, Dambadeniya. It is recommended that you bring a packed breakfast with you to eat on the way.The kingdom of Dambadeniya was at its peak during the mid-thirteenth century, especially during the reign of King Parakramabahu II. He was a peaceful king who brought Sinhalese literature to new heights with his epic poetic masterpieces ‘Kavisilumina’ and ‘Visuddi Marga Sannasa’. You will get to see the recently excavated remains of the old Temple of the Tooth, where the Tooth Relic was housed previously, and the ruins of the royal palace complex with its gardens, walls and moats.You will leave for Yapahuwa at 9:00am. You will get there by 10:30am. Yapahuwa was the capital of Sri Lanka right after Dambadeniya, when the Dravidians invaded. The fortress was built on a giant rock in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress. However the architecture of this fortress is completely different from Sigiriya with wide staircases, beautiful stone sculptures and highly detailed carvings on pillars. The fortress was later used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. On your visit you will be able to climb to the fortress and view the ruins of the stupa on the summit of the rock. The stupa has some notable statues and imagery from the Kandyan era that you can peruse. You will be spending a couple of hours at Yapahuwa.After this you can spend some time having lunch at one of the good restaurants in the area, according to your choice and affordability. The drive to your final destination, Panduwasnuwara, will take up to an hour and a half. The ancient city was one of the first kingdoms of Sri Lanka, having been the capital during the 5th century BC. The site was used much later in the 12th century as well, resulting in a mix of ruins from various periods. The ruins are spread over an area of almost 12 hectares. Some of the most notable sights are the recently restored monument that was the two storied former Temple of the Tooth, ruins of the royal palace and the artificial reservoir Panda Wewa that is considered one of the earliest irrigation systems ever made by man. You will also be visiting the museum of Panduwasnuwara, which has many archeological finds from excavations in the area. You will be spending an hour and a half in Panduwasnuwara.You will be leaving at 5:00pm and returning to your hotel. You will get back at 7:30pm, completing your tour.

$55 Day Trips & Excursions

Private Day Trip to Twin Kingdoms from Kandy

You will be starting the tour from your hotel at 6:00am. You will be travelling for 2.5 hours to get to Panduwasnuwara. If you bring a packed breakfast, you can use the time to have it since you won’t be stopping for a break before lunch.You will get to Panduwasnuwara at 8:30am. The kingdom of Panduwasnuwara flourished between 504 BC and 474 BC. Believed to be established by the King Panduvasudev, the city was abandoned till the 12th century, when it became known as Parakamapura. The ruins that stand today are mainly from that era. Some of the notable sights you will get to see are the ruins of the magnificent royal palace, the remains of the 297 feet wide tower with its extremely thick walls which have many legends surrounding them, the recently restored former temple of the tooth relic and Panda Wewa which is believed to be one of the very first irrigation systems built in the world.You will travel to Yapahuwa at 10:00am and get there by 11:30 am. You will spend two hours viewing the 13th century rock fortress of Yapahuwa. The fortress played the part of being the last stand of King Bhuvenakabahu, when the Dravidians invaded from India. He attempted to save the Holy Tooth Relic of Buddha there, but the move failed to protect it as it was stolen by the Pandyans immediately following his death. The tooth relic was recovered the year after, but was placed in Polonnaruwa instead. The fortress as you see it now is a beautiful work of art with neatly carved grand staircases, interesting sculptures and pillars. After the fall of the kingdom the fortress was used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. The remains of the stupa that they used can still be seen on the summit of the rock. The stupa contains paintings and Buddha statues from the Kandyan era.At 1:30pm you will finish your visit of the fortress and go for lunch. You can spend approximately an hour and a half enjoying your meal before you return back to Kandy. You will visit the Elephant Rock, ‘Ethagala’, en route. The rock which has a rough shape of an elephant, has some fantastic views from the top, as well as a newly created giant Buddha statue.You will get back to your hotel in Kandy by 6:30pm, completing your tour.

$60 Day Trips & Excursions

Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, and Panduwasnuwara Private Day Tour

Your tour starts at 6:30am when you are picked up from your hotel in Negombo by your private guide. With a 2-hour drive to your first destination, Dambadeniya, it's recommended that you bring a packed breakfast to eat on the way.The kingdom of Dambadeniya was at its peak during the mid-13th century, especially during the reign of King Parakramabahu II, a peaceful ruler who brought Sinhalese literature to new heights with his epic poetic masterpieces ‘Kavisilumina’ and ‘Visuddi Marga Sannasa.’ At the royal palace complex, see the recently excavated remains of the old Temple of the Tooth, where the Tooth Relic was previously housed, and the ruins of the gardens, walls, and moats.Leave for Yapahuwa Rock Fortress at 9am, arriving by 10:30am. Yapahuwa was the capital of Sri Lanka right after Dambadeniya, when the Dravidians invaded. The fortress was built on a giant rock in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress. However, the architecture of this fortress is completely different from Sigiriya, with wide staircases, beautiful stone sculptures, and highly detailed carvings on pillars. The fortress was later used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. During your visit, you can climb to the fortress and look at the ruins of the stupa on the summit of the rock. The stupa features notable statues and imagery from the Kandyan era. After spending a couple of hours at Yapahuwa, enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants in the area, according to your choice and budget. The drive to your final destination, Panduwasnuwara Kingdom, takes up to an hour and a half. The ancient city was one of the first kingdoms of Sri Lanka, having been the capital during the 5th century BC. The site was used in the 12th century, as well, resulting in a mix of ruins from various periods, spread over an area of almost 30 acres (12 hectares). Some of the most notable sights are the recently restored monument that was the 2-story former Temple of the Tooth, ruins of the royal palace, and the artificial reservoir Panda Wewa, considered one of the earliest irrigation systems ever made by man. You will also visit the museum of Panduwasnuwara, which features many archaeological finds from excavations in the area. Spend an hour and a half in Panduwasnuwara.You will leave at 5pm to return to your hotel. You will get back at 7:30pm, completing your tour.

$63 Day Trips & Excursions

Private Day Tour: Yapahuwa Sasseruwa and Avukana Buddha Statue from Dambulla

You will be picked up from your hotel in Dambulla at 7:00 am. You can bring a packed breakfast to eat along the way; as it will take up till 9:00 am to reach your first destination, Yapahuwa. The giant rock of Yapahuwa has a history dating back to the 13th century; when King Buvenekabahu (1273-1284 AD) made it the seat of his capital. He noted its defensive abilities and created a stone fortress on the rock; which withstands the sands of time to this day. You will be able to explore the ancient stone ruins and the place where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha was ensconced during the Yapahuwa era. You will be leaving for Sasseruwa at 11:00 am. At 12:00 pm you will get to Sasseruwa, where the Ras Vehera Statue is. This lesser known statue is almost as tall as the Aukana Buddha at 36 m tall, though it remains incomplete. However, the style of the statue is completely different from the Aukana Buddha. Little is known about who created it and why it was abandoned halfway; though archaeologists have confirmed that it is at least seven centuries old. You will be able to see remains of the image house that the statue originally stood within, and view the ruins of the monastic complex and cave temples around the statue. You will finish your tour of the statue by 12:45 pm and will be retiring for lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. After an enjoyable meal you will restart your tour at approximately 3:00 pm. You will get to your final destination, the Aukana Buddha Statue, by 3:40 pm. This statue gets its fame from the perfection used during sculpting it from the rock. The Aukana Buddha statue is the largest standing Buddha statue in Sri Lanka at 46m of height; and is believed to be from the 6th century AD, while there are some who say it may also be from the 13th century AD. While you’re there, you will be able to visit the Aukana Greta Royal Temple and view the ancient rock inscriptions on its premises. At 4:30 pm you will be completing your tour of the Aukana Buddha Statue and will be returning to your hotel. The entire tour will end once you get dropped off back in Dambulla by 6:00 pm.

$63 Day Trips & Excursions

Private Day Tour: Yapahuwa Sasseruwa and Avukana Buddha Statue from Sigiriya

You will be picked up from your hotel in Sigiriya at 7:00 am. You can bring a packed breakfast to eat along the way; as it will take up till 9:00 am to reach your first destination, Yapahuwa. The giant rock of Yapahuwa has a history dating back to the 13th century; when King Buvenekabahu (1273-1284 AD) made it the seat of his capital. He noted its defensive abilities and created a stone fortress on the rock; which withstands the sands of time to this day. You will be able to explore the ancient stone ruins and the place where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha was ensconced during the Yapahuwa era. You will be leaving for Sasseruwa at 11:00 am. At 12:00 pm you will get to Sasseruwa, where the Ras Vehera Statue is. This lesser known statue is almost as tall as the Aukana Buddha at 36 m tall, though it remains incomplete. However, the style of the statue is completely different from the Aukana Buddha. Little is known about who created it and why it was abandoned halfway; though archaeologists have confirmed that it is at least seven centuries old. You will be able to see remains of the image house that the statue originally stood within, and view the ruins of the monastic complex and cave temples around the statue. You will finish your tour of the statue by 12:45 pm and will be retiring for lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. After an enjoyable meal you will restart your tour at approximately 3:00 pm. You will get to your final destination, the Aukana Buddha Statue, by 3:40 pm. This statue gets its fame from the perfection used during sculpting it from the rock. The Aukana Buddha statue is the largest standing Buddha statue in Sri Lanka at 46m of height; and is believed to be from the 6th century AD, while there are some who say it may also be from the 13th century AD. While you’re there, you will be able to visit the Aukana Greta Royal Temple and view the ancient rock inscriptions on its premises. At 4:30 pm you will be completing your tour of the Aukana Buddha Statue and will be returning to your hotel. The entire tour will end once you get dropped off back in Sigiriya by 6:00 pm.

Yapahuwa in detail