Being the location of four Ancient Kingdoms, spread all over the NWP are places of archaeological interest. Stone plaques, Cave paintings, Ancient buildings, Monastery temples, statues etc., are found at those places. Whatever constructions by our ancient kings who had strategically changed their kingdoms owing to continuous Indian invasions, can be found well restored. So well restored are the constructions and the associated techniques of architecture of the times of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English after 1800 A.D. these local and foreign monuments have become tourist attractions today.
Four ancient kingdoms
Panduwasnuwara was the short lived capital of ancient Sri Lanka. King Parakramabahu set up his temporary capital in this city during the 12th century. During this period, Panduwasnuwara was the city housing the sacred tooth relic which was brought back to Sri Lanka from India by King Parakramabahu, although Panduwasnuwara is not as spectacular a sight as the capital cities Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa.
Dambadeniya, Sri Lanka’s capital in the mid thirteenth century still lies mysteriously buried on a huge fortified rock. Thirteenth century Buddhist wall and ceiling painting and images of this period at the Wijesunderarama Temple which was the Temple of the Tooth during the Dambadeniya (31 km from Kurunegala) era are much worthy of observing.
The rock fortress complex of Yapahuwa is another very significant heritage site. A citadel built on a huge rock boulder in the style of the fifth century Sigiriya rock fortress, Yapahuwa was a military stronghold against foreign invaders for many years and a beautiful royal capital in the last quarter of the thirteenth century.
It is the capital city of the North Western Province and the Kurunegala District. Kurunegala was an ancient royal capital for 50 years, from the end of the 13th century to the start of the 14th century. It is at the junction of several main roads linking to other important parts of the country.
Other heritage sites
Ridee viharaya -silver temple
The history of Ridee Vihara cave temple dates back to over 2000 years to the period of the first capital city of the country Anuradhapura. A legend records that King Dutugemunu got Silver from this place to build the Ruwanwelimahaseya. According to Mahavansa king Dutugemunu build a temple here and placed a statue of Buddha in memory of his finding of silver. Since then, this temple has become one of the most venerated shrines in the country.
Hattikuchchi Arcaelogical site
The remains here are believed to have belonged to 2nd century B.C. Rock inscriptions can be seen belonging to 9th century B.C. One of these inscriptions indicates the oldest name of the place as “Haththikuchchi”. In this premises there is a figure of an elephant’s head after which the name was given. The premises is 300 acres in extent within which are architectural structures like the “Pohoya Geya”, the temple of the relics, the circular structure (watadageya) and ponds plus 38 caves.
Arankele Forest Monastry
One can reach this interesting jungle monastery after driving along Ibbagamuwa-Madagalla road and taking turn at Godagala junction, about 2km. It is believed that this place was offered to Buddhist monks during the time of “King Jayathissa” and also as a dwelling place of “Arahath Maliyadeva”. It is further believed that a copper inscription in a Roman museum stating that this 73 acres land was donated to the monks by King Jetathissa. The name “Arankele” is said to be after a cluster of meditation centers within the premises.
Thalavila St.Anne's National shrine
The St. Anne’s National shrine at Thalawila is one of the most ancient and wonderful of all Christian shrines in Sri Lanka. Founded in the epicentre of tradition and holiness, thousands of pilgrims flock in during the months of March and August also the Christmas and Easter season to this amazing place of solitude and solace. Close to Kalpitiya, the St.Anne’s Church is easy to access with the roads in good condition and offering some stunning views of the Talawila Beach in peace. Close to Kalpitiya, the St.Anne’s Church is easy to access with the roads in good condition and offering some stunning views of the Thalawila Beach in peace.
Munneswaram temple is an important regional Hindu temple complex in Sri Lanka. According to information recorded in the ancient book “Kailashapuram”, an old Hindu clergyman had put up a temple of Shiva lingam and venerated it at this particular place. Under the Portuguese rule, the temple was destroyed. It was later restored and according to Prof. Senarath Paranawithana the creation found in the temple belong to the 15th century. Presently the temple is attended by Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu devotees for making offerings vowes and various other religious rites.
Parmakanda Ancient Temple
This cave temple located in Paramakanda village, close by a chain of mountains is said to have constructed during the region of King-Walagamba (103, 89-77 BC) an important feature here is that some epigraphs belong to Anuradhapura era have also found and remained visible. During the Kandyan Era this cave temple has been made more attractive adding statues and wall carvings. Resultantly, the added carvings remains visible even today.