Visiting Yapahuwa Rock Fortress
Yapahuwa was the former capital of Sri Lanka for a short period of 11 years. Almost identical to the well-known Sigiriya Lion Rock, Yapahuwa also is a massive rock with a fortress built on top. The fort was secured with inner and outer city sections that still have visible traces of battle.
An insanely steep stone staircase that seems never-ending leads you up the Yapahuwa Rock Fortress and is the absolute eye-catcher of the fortress. This spot is very picturesque!
On top of the staircase is an ancient doorway with two lion statues guarding the treasures. Let’s not forget that the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was once kept at Yapahuwa!
Climbing to the Top of Yapahuwa Rock Fortress
The top of the staircase is not yet the final point of the rock fortress. A 20-minute climb via a steep, tricky but doable walking path gets you to the summit where you will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the entire region!
Take in all the views of green jungles and the sound of the wind gushing along the enormous rock. Unfortunately, there is not much to see on top of the rock itself other than an ancient stupa.
Keep an eye on the path while following the hike up and wear proper shoes.
Is Yapahuwa Better than Lion Rock?
Although both Lion Rock and Yapahuwa look similar, Lion Rock its history is far more intact and, therefore, still the better choice. However, Yapahuwa has few to zero international tourists, whereas Lion Rock is very busy. You will have it pretty much to yourself, making it a unique experience that not many other travelers will have while traveling in Sri Lanka.
Additionally, the entrance fee to Yapahuwa is 3,50 USD compared to 30 USD at Sigiriya’s Lion Rock.
How to Get to Yapahuwa
It is located a bit off the usual Sri Lanka travel route in the northwest part of the country. From Kandy, it takes about 2.5 hours by car, and as far as we know, this is also the only way to get there. Yapahuwa is open from 8 AM to 5 PM; however, if you want to get in early, the sight is still accessible.
It is advisable to rent a car plus a driver for a more extended period and overnight in the area. We spent the night at Yapahuwa Paradise Hotel, pretty much the only hotel in the area, but it was an enjoyable and surprisingly good stay!