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Kurunegala (Sinhala: කුරුණෑගල, Tamil: குருநாகல்) is a city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of the North Western Province, Sri Lanka, and the Kurunegala District. Kurunegala was also an ancient royal capital for 50 years, from the end of the 13th century to the start of the 13th century. Kurunegala is located at the junction of several main roads linking to other important parts of the country. It is situated about 94 km from Colombo, and 42 km from Kandy.

Located at an altitude of 116 meters above sea level, Kurunegala is surrounded by coconut plantations and rubber estates. There are eight very noticeable large rocks that encircle and dominate the city. Kurunegala’s rocks rise from the plain below and have characteristic names, six of which come from the animals that they are imagined to represent. The largest among them is Ethagala or the “Elephant Rock” (though the translation is actually Tusker), reaches 325 meters. The shape of Ethagala resembles an Elephant.

Etymology

Kurunegala has been named after the Elephant rock(ඇතුගල). “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(ඇතුගල්පුර) is also employed to describe the city of Kurunegala.

Nearby are three archeological cities – Parakramapura (Panduvasnuwara-පඬුවස්නුවර) (north – west) with remains of a moated palace and monasteries from the 12th century, Dambadeniya-දඹ‍‍‍‍දෙනිය (south – west, mid-13th century), and Yapahuwa (north).

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 locals, a witch had volunteered to alleviate the problem, transforming some of the animals magically into stone figures.

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