La description

Yapahuwa est situé à une courte distance de la route Kurunegala-Anuradhapura dans la région de Wayamba au Sri Lanka. De toutes les anciennes ruines du pays, le Rock Fortress Complex de Yapahuwa est extraordinaire même s'il n'est pas célèbre auprès de la plupart des visiteurs. Mais, il se distingue comme l'un des sites archéologiques les plus importants du pays. On dit même qu'il est plus important que The Rock Fortress à Sigiriya.
Au début du XIIIe centenaire, Yapahuwa était la capitale du pays et abritait la Dent sacrée du Bouddha pendant 11 ans. Le roi Bhuvanekabhu I, le fils du roi Parakramabahu, qui à cette époque régnait sur Dambadeniya, a été placé à Yapahuwa pour protéger le pays contre les attaquants ; fait le château et le temple. Une fois la forteresse abandonnée, les moines l'ont transformée en monastère, et les moines résident toujours parmi les ruines antiques. Même maintenant, des signes de mécanismes de défense précoces peuvent encore être observés parmi les ruines.
Au sommet du rocher, les restes d'un stupa, d'un arbre Bodhi et d'un abri/grotte sous roche pratiqué par les moines bouddhistes sont visibles. De plus, quelques grottes sont observées à la base du rocher, dont l'une est un sanctuaire bouddhiste, tandis qu'une autre grotte contient des illustrations. Ainsi, la forteresse rocheuse présente une similitude remarquable avec la forteresse rocheuse de Sigiriya.

Plus de détails

Yapahuwa, a 300-foot isolated rock fortress in Sri Lanka, is a testament to the country's rich history. This ancient site, dating back to the 13th century, served as the seat of governance and housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. In addition, Yapahuwa boasts remarkable architectural features, including the renowned Chinese-looking 'Yapahuwa Lion' stone sculpture. While smaller in scale than Sigiriya, Yapahuwa's ornamental stairway and breathtaking surrounding vistas captivate visitors. This article delves into the fascinating history, unique attributes, and exploration of Yapahuwa, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring remnants of a bygone era.

Historical Significance of Yapahuwa

Yapahuwa as Sri Lanka's Seat of Governance

During the 13th century, Yapahuwa was a significant centre of power in Sri Lanka. It was the capital of King Buvenekabahu's kingdom (1273-1284 AD) and a strategic location for governance. The city was enclosed by towering walls and a protective moat, with the palace situated on a lower level rather than at the rock's summit. Yapahuwa's prominence extended beyond its administrative role, as it housed the revered Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha.

The Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha

One of the most esteemed relics in Sri Lanka's Buddhist tradition, the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, was relocated from Dambadeniya to Yapahuwa by King Buvenekabahu. This practice of transferring the relic held great political significance and symbolized the regent's authority. However, after Buvenekabahu's demise, the kingdom faced famine and invasion, losing the Tooth Relic and other precious treasures. The departure of the relic was a profound blow to the Sinhalese people, signifying the loss of hope.

The Unique Features of Yapahuwa

The Chinese-Looking 'Yapahuwa Lion' Stone Sculpture

Yapahuwa's special 'Yapahuwa Lion' stone sculpture holds cultural and artistic significance. This sculpture, resembling a Chinese lion, is featured on Sri Lanka's Rs. 10 note. Its origins remain debated among historians, but its presence adds an intriguing element to Yapahuwa's heritage. The lion stands as a symbol of the kingdom's strength and power.

The Ornamental Stairway and Surrounding Vistas

Yapahuwa's most remarkable architectural masterpiece is its ornamental stairway, which once led to the royal palace. The breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding landscape enhances the climb to the top of the rock. Rambling jungles, rolling hills, and sunbathed rocks combine to create a picturesque tableau. As visitors ascend the stairway, they are rewarded with panoramic views that transport them to a world of tranquillity and grandeur.

Emplacement et accès

Yapahuwa is situated in the Pahala-visi-deka Korale, Wanni Hatpattu, within Sri Lanka's Northwestern Province. The site lies just three miles from the Maho railway station on the outskirts of Kurunegala. Travellers can conveniently reach Yapahuwa by taking a train to Maho station and then using the bus service that shuttles between Maho and Yapahuwa. For the more adventurous, trekking through the scenic countryside offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the picturesque rural landscape.

Exploring the Yapahuwa Rock

When exploring the Yapahuwa rock, wearing appropriate footwear and a sun hat is advisable. The rock rises abruptly from the plains, and terraces and retaining walls on the southern and eastern faces facilitate access to its summit. These architectural features allow visitors to ascend the rock and delve into its historical remnants. Additionally, a cave temple at the apex of the stone still preserves statues of the Buddha and paintings from the Kandyan period.

Yapahuwa's Historical Connections with China

Recent archaeological excavations at Yapahuwa have uncovered evidence suggesting the kingdom's close diplomatic ties with China. Excavations yielded several Chinese ceramics, recognized as some of the finest specimens found on the island. The discovery of celadon pottery pieces and over 1,000 Chinese coins further attests to the historical interactions between Yapahuwa and China. These findings shed light on the intriguing history of Yapahuwa and its connections with other ancient civilizations.

Yapahuwa's Defense Strategies and Ruins

The history of Yapahuwa reveals intriguing defensive strategies employed by its rulers. The narrowness of the steps leading to the rock's summit served as a form of defence, preventing hasty ascents or descents. This design allowed those at the top to prepare for potential attacks or hinder the escape of infiltrators. The ruins throughout the site vividly depict the architectural splendour that once stood against the horizon. Though many structures fell victim to the ravages of time and Portuguese invasions in the 16th century, the remnants still speak eloquently of Yapahuwa's glorious past.

The Ornate Stairway and its Intricate Carvings

Yapahuwa's ornamental stairway is an architectural marvel with three stages. The final flight, consisting of 35 steps, is particularly ornate. As visitors ascend, they encounter intricately carved frames depicting dancers and musicians. The dancers' poses and movements are rendered with such detail and vibrancy that they almost appear lifelike. The porch above the steps is adorned with additional dancers, while at the foot of each fence, Yapahuwa lions stand sentinel, unique to this site. These steps, albeit narrow, necessitate a sideways maneuver, showcasing a deliberate defensive design.

The Splendor of the 'Sivumenduru Kavuluwa'

At the top of the ornamental stairway awaits a magnificent stone doorway flanked by imposing walls. Two exquisitely carved windows, known as the 'Sivumenduru Kavuluwa' or perforated palace windows, exhibit superb craftsmanship. The 'Sivumenduru Kavuluwa,' now preserved at the National Museum in Colombo, is a slab of stone that is four feet seven inches thick. Its surface features 45 circles that allow light to enter the hall. Each process includes meticulously sculptured figures, including Bacchanalian statistics, women, swans, and various animals. These sculptures are considered some of the finest examples of medieval stone carvings in Sri Lanka.

The Dalada Maligawa and Museum

Adjacent to the palace on the Yapahuwa rock is the Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth. Built to house the Sacred Tooth Relic, the temple showcases architectural elements reminiscent of the Dravidian style, with panelled female forms similar to those found on door-jambs in Orissa. In addition, a museum at the site provides visitors with a glimpse into the rich historical artifacts unearthed during excavations.

The Summit of Yapahuwa and Pinwewa

For those willing to brave the climb, a rough path from the temple leads to the summit of the Yapahuwa rock. The ascent is enchanting but requires some endurance. Along the way, a small cave with remnants of a dagoba can be found, while near the peak, a natural water tank offers respite. At the summit, the ruins of two small dagobas and other structures add to the historical intrigue. From this vantage point, visitors are treated to a magnificent view and refreshing breezes, which transport them back in time, far from the noise and haste of modern civilization.

Pinwewa: A Site of Historical Interest

Just two miles from Yapahuwa lies Pinwewa, another site of historical significance. This ancient burial site, locally known as 'gal ohana Kanata or graveyard of stone monuments, contains over 40 chambered tombs. The chambers are constructed with stone slabs, many containing skeletons and pottery fragments. The architecture and artifacts found here shed light on the burial practices and rituals of the ancient people who inhabited this region.

Ongoing Archaeological Discoveries

Yapahuwa continues to be a site of ongoing archaeological exploration and excavation. The pioneering work of H. C. P. Bell, the first Commissioner of Archaeology in Ceylon, in the early 20th century has contributed significantly to our understanding of Yapahuwa's history. Today, archaeologists continue to uncover new artifacts and ruins, adding to the knowledge of this ancient fortress. Studying seepage patterns and other geological features has also led to identifying potential defaults beneath the surface, hinting at more discoveries.

Tranquillity and Serenity at Yapahuwa

Beyond its historical and architectural significance, Yapahuwa offers visitors a chance to experience tranquillity and serenity. The remote location, surrounded by nature's beauty, provides a respite from the bustling city life. The whispers of the wind, the rustle of leaves, and the echoes of ancient tales create an ambience that immerses visitors in a different time and place.

FAQ (Foire Aux Questions)

Q1: What is the best time to visit Yapahuwa?

A1: The best time to visit Yapahuwa is during the dry season, typically between November and April. The weather is pleasant, with clear skies and lower chances of rainfall.

Q2: How long does it take to explore Yapahuwa?

A2: Exploring Yapahuwa can take a few hours, depending on your pace and interest. It is recommended to allocate at least 2-3 hours to appreciate the site and its historical significance fully.

Q3: Are there any accommodation options near Yapahuwa?

A3: While limited accommodation options are directly near Yapahuwa, nearby towns like Kurunegala offer a range of hotels and guesthouses to suit different budgets and preferences.

Q4: Can Yapahuwa be visited by people with mobility issues?

A4: Yapahuwa involves climbing a steep rock fortress, and the stairway can be challenging for individuals with mobility issues. However, the lower levels of Yapahuwa can still be explored, and some viewpoints offer panoramic vistas accessible to all.

Q5: Are there any nearby attractions to visit after Yapahuwa?

A5: After visiting Yapahuwa, you can explore other nearby attractions, such as the ancient city of Anuradhapura, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, or the cultural city of Kandy, which are all within driving distance from Yapahuwa.



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