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DateLine Friday, 15 August 2008

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View from the top

Monkey with baby

Yapahuwa The rock fortress

In 13th Century Yapahuwa was Sri Lanka?s seat of governance and home to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. Today it is one of the country?s most unique and important sites of historic interest containing abundant traces of ancient battlements and remnants of king Buvenekabahu?s kingdom.

This was the practice of regents at the time and was a ritual of great political significance.

What remains at the ancient kindom now is its most remarkable masterwork which remains as an ornamental stairway that conducted the royal palace. Situated on the outskirts of Kurunegala, this rock fortress is just three miles from the Maho railway station.

I entered from the cave temple which was the only accessway to the ?Kingdom?. It still contains statues of the Buddha and paintings of the Kandyan period.

The climb up to the rock was easy much easier than when I came to Yapahuwa with my friends some seven years ago. Starting was somewhat of a challenge because it has narrow steps.

But the climb to the top of the rock was easy. At the top what greeted me was a breathtaking view with monkeys- quite a lot of them- running helter skelter. The view was truly magnificent while the breeze was strong and refreshing. One gets the feeling of being miles away from the noisy, modern civilisation and I got the impression of being one with the past.

The ?Yapahuwa Lion? stone sculpture, is what is reproduced in the country?s newest Rs. 10 note. Historians compare Yapahuwa to the Sigiriya rock fortress but note that it was built on a much smaller scale.

?The king had enclosed the city with a towering wall and a moat, protecting the palace within. A cave temple was built for monks at the apex.

In the past some were called Sundara Giri Pabbatha, Suba lena, Yasa Pawwa and Yahapath Parwathaya. Before 200 years ago reverend Neththipalagama Medhankara came to this place to visit here? said Ravindra, a resident at Yapahuwa village.

Many interesting ruins are scattered in every direction. But the most important local ruin of all is the splendid though short-lived rock fortress of Yapahuwa. All of them contain classical masterpieces of Sinhala art and craft wall paintings, wood work, sculpture and images of the Buddha.

Yapahuwa was considered as a strategically important point since the Polonnaruwa era. Prince Buwanekabahu, the son of a Parakramabahu the Great who ruled in Dambadeniya, was stationed at Yapahuwa to protect the kingdom against enemy attacks.

The ruins of this temple can be seen today and is considered one of the best archaeologically valuable sites on the island.





Blend of modern and traditional architecture

The Yapahuwa Ayurveda centre in the Kurunegala District located around 145 km from Colombo is situated amidst the tranquillity of landscaped garden with a panoramic view of the small lake.

There are 26 therapies and six doctors working at this resort. Their service include massages, steam bath, flower bath, yoga and meditation programs too.

This Ayurveda resort has 36 rooms with 12 cottage type mud houses and four apartment houses, each with six double occupancy rooms to accommodate guests. Most often they make herbals taken from their own garden.

The centre has invested more than Rs 100 million and opened a new hotel called Yapahuwa Paradise on 8th February 2008 which has 20 terracestyle rooms in the same premises of the Yapahuwa Ayurveda Centre containing 36 acres dotted with mango, cashew, coconut, teak, kohomba and various kind of flowers.

All rooms are in the lake view and there are Olu, Nelum, Manel and Araliya ponds in front of the rooms entrance.

This hotel presents a fine blend of modern and traditional architecture. The guests can enjoy an environment similar to a botanical garden.

The hotels are managed by its chairman Werner Simon and assisted by his son Ananda. ?The hotel has 300 pax banquet hall and we offer it for the reasonable rates to those who like to have their wedding or conference in this place.

People who come to this hotel, can visit Yapahuwa kingdom, Kaikawala Cave Temple, Ridee Viharaya, Aukana, Haththikutchi, Paduwasnuwara, Padeniya, Resvehera and Arankele? said Asoka Alwis, General Manager of the hotel.

It has a pool and the water flows from an elephant mural. They focussed more attention to the architecture and the sculptures. Games such as as volley ball, badminton and indoor games such as table tennis, carrom and chess are also provided.

Entering this hotel, no one can believe this kind of hotel is situated at Yapahuwa, three and half hours drive from Colombo.

The majority of the employees of this hotel are from Yapahuwa area. Because of this hotel people who live in Yapahuwa have jobs. (GP)

South Indian fare at ?Chutneys?

Cinnamon Grand Colombo opened its South Indian restaurant Chutneys, on Wednesday in the presence of a large gathering of invitees.

Their 20 paged - a la carte menus offer specialties from the four primary states of South India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with separate vegetarian and non vegetarian options for each state.

In addition to varieties of Dosai there are 45 vegetarian options and 55 non vegetarian options in the restaurant claimed to be the first South Indian restaurant in Sri Lankan five star hotels.

The four leading South Indian chefs ensure the authenticity of the culinary fare with each of the chefs specialising in the unique dishes of each region.

Their distinctive styles have also led to the chefs being conferred the honourary titles of Dosai and Thali Masters in South India.

Have you travelled to any interesting places, or been through locations that you want to share with others? Please share your experiences with us: Travel, Daily News Features, 35 D.R.Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo 10. (Email: [email protected])


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