Yapahuwa Rock Fortress


Yapahuwa is located 112 km away from Colombo in the North-Western province of Sri Lanka, midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura.

Yapahuwa can be reached by the A28 main motor road as well as by the northern Railway line. Yapahuwa is 5 km east of the Maho railway station.

  • Opening Hours8:00 A.M – 5:00 P.M
  • Tickets Fee$3.50 U.S.D per adult
  • Just rememberthis is an important religious site as well, you must dress accordingly and wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees!

Yapahuwa was was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka after the fall of the Polonnaruwa kingdom.  The city was a well-planned fortress consisting of the inner city/ outer city sections, encircled by ramparts & moats while strategically using the landscape for security.  Complete with three gated entrances and epic fortifications, it’s safe to say that penetrating the walls of this city would be no easy task.

Yapahuwa is most well-known for once being the location of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha(which now can be found in Kandy).

“In 1272, King Bhuvenakabahu transferred the capital to Yapahuwa from Polonnaruwa in the face of marauding Dravidian invasions from South India, bringing the Sacred Tooth Relic with him. The move proved to be of little avail. Following the death of King Bhuvenakabahu in 1284, the Pandyans of South India invaded Lanka once again, and succeeded in capturing Sacred Tooth Relic too. Following its capture, Yapahuwa was largely abandoned & inhabited by Buddhist monks & religious ascetics.” 


The most jaw-dropping highlight of the Yapahuwa Rock Fortress is without a doubt the insanely steep stone staircase leading up to the ancient palace grounds.


At the top of the daunting staircase, you’ll find yourself at this picturesque and impressive stone doorway.  Since this was the previous location of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it comes complete with two “famous Yapahuwa Lions ever vigilant, on guard and set to sound the warning roar, and leap in attack to defend Lanka’s most precious possession.”

Once you step foot underneath this doorway and into the foundations of the temple, you’ll see that there isn’t all that much else there besides some beautfiul trees, bricks & stone pillars.  With that being said, the views loooking down at what you just climbed up are magnificent!

Upon arrival to the summit, you will be rewarded with 360º views of the entire region.  These sprawling views are signature Sri Lanka, and reminded me of my first trip to the country four years ago when I did the Sigiriya Rock Fortress hike  Wide-open rice paddies, rolling green landscapes, and lush green jungles as far as the eye can see.  Even with some clouds in the sky limiting the detail in the far off the mountains, the views were completely beautiful.