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 Aryacakravarti from the Jaffna Kingdom 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.
After the death of King Parakrama Bahu III, Kings Buvanekabahu II (1293–1302) who was followed by Parakramabahu IV (1302–1326) ruled from Kurunegala. The ruler in Kurunegala from 1326 to 1335 was Buwaneka Bahu III alias Wanni Buwaneka Bahu. He was the son of Pandith Parakrama Bahu II and is believed to be the last king to rule the country from Kurunegala. After the reign of Buwaneka Bahu III, the newly throned king Vijayabahu V ruled from Dambadeniya and Yapahuwa from 1335 to 1341 before once again the kingdom of Sri Lanka shifted to Gampola. Few remains of the Palace of the Tooth relic that housed the tooth of the Buddha have avoided natural destruction, including few stone steps and a part of a doorway.
Proclaimed himself king with Kurunegala as his capital. He ruled for 9 years and after his death his son succeeded him.
He gave his patronage to Buddhism and Literature. He built a large number of Viharas. During his reign these was a rebellion by a person named Bodamapananda, possibly a Vanni chief due to this even the Sangha fled from the capital. King Parakramabahu IV had built a beautiful temple for the Tooth Relic. He also built the Parakumba Pirivena and gave Paranagama, Delmada, Thambilihela, Morawaka for its maintenance. He rebuilt Vijayaba Pirivena. He rebuilt this Thotagamuwa complex and a viharaya at Devundara. Weedagama Viharaya near Raigama.
According to Mahawamsa, the translation of the Jataka Katha was one undertaken by the king himself. It was during this period that Sanda Kinduru Jathakaya was written by Wilgammula Thero. Other literary works were the translation of Maha Bodhi Wamsaya by the same Thero. Anagatha Wamsaya , Ummaga Jatakaya, Dalada Pujavaliya, Sinhala Thupa Wamsaya, Dambadeni Asna are some more books written during this period.
Tradition says that Buvanaikabahu III constructed the Kurunegala Tank and his name is mentioned in connection with traditional accounts of the temples of the temples of Vanni Hatpattu. The Kurunegala period gets somewhat confusing. According to Madawala Sannasa Kurunegala period ended with the rebellion by Bodamapananda who would have killed Parakramabahu IV. There is a mention of a period of interregnum from 1326-1341. But again there is a mention of 2 kings, Vanni Buvanaikabahu IV and Vijayabahu (Savulu) V. Both were sons of Savulu Vijayabahu. It is still not quite certain from where these two kings ruled.