Kurunegala

Kurunegala is situated in the Northwestern province and is very close to the Cultural Triangle, This city is the biggest in this province, and is situated at a very significant point as a junction to several trunk roads; such as Puttlam, Anuradhapura, Kandy and Colombo. It is also on the main railway route to the north and east.

When we direct our attention to the physical features of Sri Lanka, we notice that as in the central highlands also a range of mountains spread in direction towards the north, north east and north west in a way similar to the
fingers of a hand.These ranges spread as far as Anuradhapura and even further decreasing in size and height gradually. Ritigala, Toppigala, Muthugala, Dimbulagala, and Mihintale are some of these mountain ranges. The famous rocks of Kurunegala such as Etha gala or Elephant Rock, Ibbagala or Tortoise Rock, Aandagala or . Eel Rock, Kuruminigala or Beatle Rock, Wanduragala or Monkey Rock, and Elluwagala or Goat Rock also placed similar to the fingers in a hand and similar to the earlier mentioned mountain ranges. This is something very remarkable regarding the Topography of Kurunegala and the surrounding area.

The city of Kurunegala is a pleasant and a healthy city with all available amenities. Kurunegala also lies within the best coconut growing area or the so called coconut triangle covering Colombo, Puttalam, and Kurunegala. The landmark of Kurunegala however is the gigantic Etha gala (or Elephant Rock) which is the closest rock to the city center. Parakramabahu III (1287— 1293) of Polonnaruwa had a son called Vattimi Bandara born to a moor queen or consort.The ministers didn’t like him becoming the king. So they seemed to have arranged a Pirith Ceremony to bless the prince on top of the Ethugala or Elephant Rock at Kurunegala, and during the course of the ceremony they seemed to have pushed him down and killed him. Afterwards people started to worship him as”God Galebandara.”

Kurunegala was known as Kurunegalbada Raajya” or Kingdom of Kurunegalbada in the past. Nayura Pirivena was situated here .From the Willba Temple near Kurunegala a pre–historic stone inscription has been found and it gives evidence that this place was a settlement and was inhabited even at that time.

According to Mahavamsa Kino Buwenekabahu II (F.,.0 1293— 1302) was the first ruler of Kurunegala. He was also known as Vathhimi Buwenekabahu—Even before this it is said that a temple had been built by Parakramabahu II (1236— 1270 A.0) in the name of one “Buwanekabahu Epa”.Vijayabahu IV(A.D. 1270-1272) had visited Kurunegala – which was then called Hasthisili Pura or City of Elephant Rock to inspect the temple built by his uncle.This is clearly niven in Mahavansa and Pujavali.

This shows that, similar to the Kings who were ruling there other Kings too were very much interested in this place. Parakramabahu IV (A.D. 1302— 1326) son of Buwanekabahu II was mentioned in the “Medawala Copper Sannasa” or Plate as the greatest ruler of Kurunegala. He had built a three storey temple at Kurunegala, and had brought down and placed Lord Buddha’s sacred Tooth Relic there. He had constructed a two storey building which is the present Totagamuwa Temple.

It was during the reign of Parakramabahu IV (A.D. 1302— 1326) the present day city of Kandy or Senkadagala Pura or Siriwardhanapura came into existence .The Asgiriya Chapter of Buddhism was started at this period with the initiative of this king. Also with his initiative “Pansiya Panes Jathakaya” or the book on the Five Hundred and Fifty previous incarnations of Lord Buddha was written. Other great scripts such as the “Dalada Siritha” or the History of the Tooth Relic, and The “Sinhala Bodhi Wansaya” were done during his time. Among the great scholars of this period Venerable Sri Parakramabahu Wilgammula Sanga Raja is a notable figure. After Parakramabahu II Wanni Buwanekabaho and Vijayabahu V became kings of Kurunegala.

Near Ridhi Viharaya there is evidence that activities with silver craft were done even during the rule of King Dutugemunu ( B.C. 161— 137). It is said that Lanka’s last Arahath or Enlightened Buddhist Monk Maliyadeva was from Kurunegala.