The Ancient Kingdom of Yapahuwa

Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka. The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Kurunagala and Anuradhapura was built around a huge granite rock rising abruptly almost a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands.

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

Yapahuwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 13th century (1273–1284). Built on a huge, 90 meter high rock boulder in the style of the Sigiriya rock fortress, Yapahuwa was a palace and military stronghold against foreign invaders.

History

The palace and fortress were built by King Buvanekabahu I (1272–1284) in the year 1273. Many traces of ancient battle defenses can still be seen, while an ornamental stairway, is its biggest showpiece. On top of the rock are the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, and a rock shelter/cave used by Buddhist monks, indicating that earlier this site was used as a Buddhist monastery, like many boulders and hills in the area. There are several caves at the base of the rock. In one of them there is a shrine with Buddha images. One cave has a Brahmi script inscription. At the southern base of the rock there is a fortification with two moats and ramparts. In this enclosure there are the remains of a number of buildings including a Buddhist shrine. There is also a Buddhist temple called Yapawwa Rajamaha Vihara built during the Kandyan period.

The Tooth Relic was brought from Dambadeniya and kept in the Tooth Temple built for the purpose at the top of the third staircase. The relics were carried away from the temple here to South India by the Pandyas, and then recovered in 1288 by Parakkramabahu III (1287–1293), who temporarily placed them in safety at Polonnaruwa.

Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka. The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Anuradhapura and Kurunegala was built around a huge granite rock rising abruptly almost a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands.

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

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Koneswaram Temple - Trincomalee

Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee  or Thirukonamalai Konesar Temple – The Temple of the Thousand Pillars and Dakshina-Then Kailasam is a classical -medieval Hindu temple complex in Trincomalee, a Hindu religious pilgrimage centre in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. Built significantly during the reign of the early Cholas and the Five Dravidians of the Early Pandyan Kingdom atop Konesar Malai, a promontory overlooking Trincomalee District, Gokarna bay and the Indian Ocean, its Pallava, Chola, Pandyan and Jaffna design reflect a continual Tamil Saivite influence in the Vannimai region from the classical period. The monument contains its main shrine to Shiva in the form Kona-Eiswara, shortened to Konesar and is a major place for Hindu pilgrimage, labelled the "Rome of the Gentiles/Pagans of the Orient". Connected at the mouth of the Mahavilli Ganga River to the footprint of Shiva at Sivan Oli Padam Malai at the river’s source, the temple symbolically crowns the flow of the Ganges River from Shiva’s head of Mount Kailash to his feet.

The complex was destroyed in colonial religious attacks between 1622 and 1624 and a fort was built at the site from its debris. A 1632 built temple located away from the city houses some of its original idols. Worldwide interest was renewed following the discovery of its underwater and land ruins, sculptures and Chola bronzes by archaeologists and Arthur C. Clarke. It has been preserved through restorations, most recently in the 1950s. Granted ownership of villages in its florist to form the Trincomalee District, Trincomalee village is located on the cape isthmus within the compounds. The modern temple has been a source of conflict between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils due to its position in a Geo strategically important area. Revenue from the temple provides services and food to local residents.

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Kandy Esala Perahera

The month of (July) Esala - [according to Buddhist month system], during which period this annual pageant is usually hold, had been considered a month of celebrations and festivity, both among Indians and Sri Lankans. Even from the lifetime of the Buddha in the 6th century BC, the Esala festival was held to commemorate the Buddha’s Conception, his Renunciation and the First Sermon. Esala is also considered to be the beginning of the raining season (Vassana) when the monks commence their Retreat. Also, this month is considered to be the period when ritual performances to the protective divinities are held, (eg Pattini puja) as recorded in the text ‘Pattini-Halla’. Being considered a ‘chaste’ month, the period is held sacred for the availability of water, hence prosperity.

Kandy Perahara is the main Buddhist event in SriLanka, as a Buddhist country this festival is fully conducted by sri lankan government. "Dalada maligawa" is the main temple of all, so this festival is called as the heart beat of Sri Lankans which is most awaited through the year. thousands of devotees gather to see the "perahara" on this season and more than 50 elephants, +2000 artists  take part in this event,

 

Preparation

Most of the rituals are hidden and unseen, we were able to get some rare shots of dressing the elephant which carries the relic in perahara, and this time [2012] the elephant is called "Nadungamuwe Raja", and there is an amazing history about those elephants who carries the sacred relic and among those the most famous one is "Raja" who passed away few years ago and still makes people cry when they see him at its museum. , if you visit "Dalada Maligawa" dont miss Raja's museum next  to the temple at left side.

 

Esala Perahara

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Sinigama Esala Festival

Sinigama Devalaya (temple) is located on Galle - Colombo main road 3km before Hikkaduwa,the well known tourism paradise. This temple is devoted for god "Dewol" since 300 years, some folks says this temple is older than 1000 years but there are no proves.

There are two temples, the main Devalaya is on land and other is an island, only way to reach that is a boat. Thousands of pilgrims are coming to this temple daily to get blessings & the annual Festival will held on August every year.

 

Cultural Show

Before the first procession there is a cultural show, some dancing items are going to take part in this event and the dancers shows their talents on this day.

 

Processions

There are four processions, two day processions & two night processions. First procession is towards Thelwaththa ancient temple and second is towards Hikkaduwa town. Giant tuskers, facinating kandiyan and low country dancers makes Galle - Colombo main road look fabulous. Photos below are from those four processions.

 

Special thanks to Mr.Sampath Viraj & Mr.Nishantha who gave us the opportunity to cover the event.
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Mihinthale

Eight miles east of Anuradhapura, close to the Anuradhapura - Trincomalee Road is situated the "Missaka Pabbata" which is 1,000 feet (300 m) in height and is one of the peaks of a mountainous range. Though this was called Chetiyagiri or Sagiri, it was popularly known as Mihintale - the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Thera Mahinda came to Sri Lanka from India on the full moon day of the month of Poson (June) and met King Devanampiyatissa and the people, and preached the doctrine. The traditional spot where this meeting took place is revered by the Buddhists of Sri Lanka. Therefore in the month of Poson, Buddhists make their pilgrimage to Anuradhapura and Mihintale.

From ancient times a large number of large steps were constructed to climb Mihintale. It is stated that King Devanampiyatissa constructed a vihara and 68 caves for the bhikkhus to reside in. At Mihintale there gradually grew a number of Buddhist viharas with all the dependent buildings characteristic of monasteries of that period.

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