KURUNEGALA
 
  In the core Sri Lanka there lays mysterious mountains and towering rocks as backdrops, and Kurunegala is one of them. Thanks to its picturesque setting with eight peaks, most especially the famed Elephant Rock, Kurunegala has much that makes it remarkable. Once an ancient capital, it also has a history worth becoming acquainted with.
 
Kurunegala was a royal capital for only 50 years, from the end of the 13th century to the start of the next, though even before this it was strategically placed in the middle of other majestic strongholds such as Yapahuwa to the north, Dambadeniya to the south and Panduwasnuwara in the east.
 
Dambadeniya is a historical city, about 30 km South-West of Kurunegala. The Indian attacks in the early 13th century displaced and Polonnaruwa as the royal capital and the royal palaces were brought after a century-long gap in the North-West of the Island by Vijayabahu III (1232-36)  
 
Panduwasnuwara is situated halfway between Kurunegala and Chilaw. It provides an excellent example of the layout and ground plan of a Sinhalese royal palace of the period, complete with Medamidula (inner court yard), and defences.
 
  Located by a lake 18km northeast of Kurunegala, Ridigama Vihara is a site you should not miss if you travel to Kurunegala. When Dutugemunu was ruling the country in the second century BCE, silver ore was discovered at Ridigama. Since then it was called Ridigama meaning “silver village”.
 
Sixth century remains of the Arankele forest monastery and caves lie at a distance of 24 km to the north of Kurunegala. It was inhabited by the Tapovana or forest-dwelling sect of austere Buddhist Bhikkhus, and the remains of these ruins include a large Tantaghara (hot water-bath), and a long concrete meditating walkway. 
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