Kurunegala - Photos by Sri Lanka Travel Agency, Afganistan, Kandahar

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Kurunegala , is the capital of the Wayamba Province, Sri Lanka and the Kurunegala District. A transport hub, it has a railway station, and several main roads linking important parts of the country. Kurunegala is situated about 94 ;km from Colombo, and 42 ;km from Kandy. Ethagala a rock reaching 316 meters, towers over the town, which is located at an altitude of 116 meters above sea level. The shape of Ethagala resembles an Elephant.Kurunegala has been named after the Elephant rock. "Kurune" means Tusker or an Elephant with protruding teeth and Gala in Sinhala means rock. Kurunai means Tusker or an Elephant and Gal in Tamil means rock or hill. Kurunegala's old name was Hasthishaila-pura, which can be translated as The city of the Elephant rock in Sanskrit. In some ancient literature the word Athugal-pura is also employed to describe the city of Kurunegala.Nearby are three archeological cities - Parakramapura with remains of a moated palace and monasteries from the 12th century, Dambadeniya , and Yapahuwa .

Kurunegala enjoys a pleasant location overlooked by huge rocky outcrops some of which have been given names of the animals they resemble Elephant rock, Tortoise rock etc. According to folklore legend, long time back the city had experienced a severe drought. To exacerbate matters for the humans, animals had threatened the city's storage capabilities by consuming huge amounts of water. Fortunately for the humans, a witch had volunteered to alleviate the problem, transforming some of the animals magically into stone figures.

Kurunegala had a citadel in the thirteenth century. It's ascendancy as an ancient capital of Sri Lanka, began with a series of events that took place during the late 12th century at Yapahuwa. The sacred tooth relic which was in the Yapahuwa Kingdom was taken away by a warlord Arya Chackrawarthi to the Pandyan country during the rule of Buwaneka Bahu I from 1272 to 1284. The tooth relic was brought back by King Parakrama Bahu III who ruled from Kurunegala between 1287 to 1293. Over the next half a century Kurunegala was the capital and the governing centre for three other kings of Sri Lanka.