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The Lost Kingdoms

The Lost Kingdoms
Gypsy Kings

Two now lost and almost forgotten kingdoms lies to the north of the hotel.

The first of these, Dambadeniya, was set up on the ashes of Polonnaruwa, itself a replacement kingdom for the glittering 1,500 year old Anduraupuran kingdom that fell to Tamil invaders in 993 CE.

Polonnaruwa has lasted less than 150 years before being overrun by invaders from India, and its successor king, Vijayabahu III, chose Dambadeniya as his new capital, banking on its greater remoteness and defend ability.

For a time it seemed as if he had succeeded. He reunited the fractious refuge monks and was able to hand over to his successor a functioning crown,.

His successor, Parakramabahu II, was better known as a poet and writer than a military commander or administrator. Even so, he was still able to reunite much of the island under his command, whilst fostering a kingdom famous for its culture

His son and successor, Bosath Vijayabahu, was less successful, being murdered by his chief minister in 1270, a fate more common to Sri Lankan kings than in most other countries.

Haunting whispers of this once beautiful city linger on in the backwaters that now enveloped Dambadeniya today: ruins of a palace; the foundations of one of the earlier Temples of the Tooth;  gardens, moats, city walls; and even some much later frescos.

Bosath Vijayabahu’s successor and brother, Bhuvanekabahu I, shifted the capital to Yapahuwa in 1272– again in search of greater security as the threat from invaders had grown yet greater.

The new city was also built on a rock, Sigiriya style, this one ninety metres high; and its ruins are in a much greater state of preservation than those of Dambadeniya. Here you will find ancient battle defences, two moats and ramparts, a stunning ornamental stairway, the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, shrines, rock temples and caves covered in frescoes; and in one notable case, with Brahmi script inscriptions, the writing that predates Singhala.

Bhuvanekabahu I’s death in 1284 was soon followed by a new Tamil invasion and his city kingdom fell, the tooth relic stolen, and his successor kings left to set off once again on a sorrowful journey of putting up more ephemeral kingdoms in such places as Kurunegala, Gampola, Kotte, Sitawaka and Kandy.

To arrange a visit, please contact the Hotel Office.
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