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Dambadeniya, Sri Lanka

The Kingdom of Dambadeniya

Dambadeniya, The Third ancient capital of Sri Lanka became prominent in the early 13th Century. Located towards the midwestern region of Sri Lanka, near Kurunegala town off the Guiriulla road, it is hidden in the lushness of Rural Sri Lanka. Dambadeniya was actually a high-security zone to hide the Sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha from invaders from India. The heritage site originally had a palace and a temple with ancient murals and a small stupa.

 Invasions from India forced the King at the time, King Vijayabahu the third ( 1232-1236) to retreat from the then capital of Sri Lanka, “Polonnaruwa” and build his palace on the Summit of Dambadeniya. The area was secured by a moat, marsh, and sturdy ramparts. The Vijayasundarama temple was used during this time as the sacred tooth relic shrine. It was during the reign of King Parakramabahu the second, his son that the Capital really flourished and reached the height of its glory. Parakramabahu built further fortifications for the Dambadeniya Rock. He was a great poet, he was responsible for recovering Polonnaruwa from “Kalinga Maga”, the Indian invaders. After king Panditha Parakramabahu’s death, King Vijayabahu the fourth became the sole king of Dambadeniya. Sadly he could only bear the crown for 2 years only as he was assassinated by his general, Mitta. After his assassination, the throne was succeeded by his brother King Buwanekabahu, who moved the capital from Dambadeniya to Yahapahuwa.

 Dambadniya has no grand ruins like Polonnaruwa and Yapahuwa, the remains consist of the Dambadeniya temple, the most accessible part of the temple is called the “Wijayasundararamaya”. It serves as a temple to the local community now. In the small museum found behind the temple, you will notice how practical Sri Lankan ancestors were, despite being threatened by invading forces they were still very concerned about their plumbing; The water “Pump” system in place is very sophisticated and will certainly entertain you.

 There is a myth about the “ Waduwa Ketu Gala” in Dambadeniya, Due to the Indian invaders, the king at the time out of fear of losing the “sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha” Imprisoned the main craftsman who made the tooth relic chamber, on top of the rock at Dambadeniya. His prison was next to a sheer drop off the edge of the rock and on the other side with two guards guarding him. Daily the wife of the Craftsman brought him meals and through her, he was able to smuggle in his toolkit which he used to carve deep steps down the side of the rock. Eventually, he carved enough steps to the bottom to escape; this is an exciting venture for any adventurer. Now there is an iron cable to along the steps, and with its help, you can hike up the rock to enjoy spectacular views of Paddy fields and the Dambadeniya Town.

Though not as grand with ancient ruins, Dambadeniya is definitely a recommended site to visit as a day excursion.