Sunday, October 5, 2008

Day Trip to Yapahuwa Rock Fortress via Kurunegala Sri Lanka - Chop Suey and Chinese Lions

yapahuwa sri lanka stone staircase
Sometimes, when visiting places in Sri Lanka, multiple days aren't required. The island is small enough that a 3 hour drive out of Colombo can take you somewhere completely different.

Yapahuwa is one of these places. In the 13th century, one of our kings, seeing how well Sigiriya had turned out for King Kasyapa, (Tangent: Actually if King Kasyapa had just stayed on the rock and lobbed things at his enemies, he'd've done fine. What's the point of a giant rock fortress if you're not going to use it?) decided to build his palace on another giant rock. Unfortunately for us sightseer types (and I suppose fortunately for those who had to actually carve and carry things up the rock), his ambitions were nowhere as lofty as Kasyapa. And his subsequent PR was also nowhere nearly as good as Kasyapa.

yapahuwa sri lanka stone staircase
This lack of Sigiriya level awareness means, however, that Yapahuwa is nowhere nearly as crowded as Sigiriya is. And while it is not as impressive as Sigiriya, it still is pretty impressive.

First, you get the iconic stone staircase with the Chinese lions, the ones on our ten rupee note. Looking at it makes you queasy as its steepness makes it feel like you're going to be climbing one of those rollercoaster rails that curls back on itself. As you climb, though, your confidence increases till, at the top, you pretty much could be the king, looking out and surveying all the land you reign over.

yapahuwa sri lanka vista from top
For most people, that's it. However, from there, you can walk through a forest path to the top. The path is overgrown and all the signs tell you not to go past the staircase area but you should. It's worth it when you reach the top and survey that vista.

Yapahuwa should be done as a day trip. This is how I would do it: Leave at 9am - weekdays (except Tuesdays: it is closed) are preferable as it is less crowded - from Colombo.

Stop at Diya Dahara Hotel in Kurunegala - which is right by the lake - for lunch. Get a table by the lake and order the Diya Dahara House Special which is a gigantic, incredibly tasty Sri Lankan chop suey - one dish is enough for about 3 people. Gorge on the chop suey while enjoying the lake view and a couple of beers. Leave for Yapahuwa by 1:30pm, climb it by 3pm (wait for sunset if you can) and you can be back in Colombo by 9pm. The Cholas never had it this easy.

Hotel Name: Diya Dahara
Address: 7 North Lake Rd, Kurunegala
Phone: (037) 222 3452
More Pictures: Picasaweb

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