YALA AND KATARAGAMA ATTRACTIONS.
Yala Katharagama is a another fabulous place in Sri Lanka. If you visit Sri Lanka, You must add this to your check List. If you are already in Sri Lanka DenithRu us are ready to take you to the next level of experience.
01. LORD KATARAGAMA TEMPLE
(2.5kms from the City of Kataragama)
Kataragama is a place of worship not only for Hindus, but for Buddhists, Muslims and Christians as well. Kataragama Devala is situated by the Menik Ganga (river) with a Buddhist Temple and an Islamic Mosque surrounded by the Devale complex. Still, the major part of devotees who actively participate in the Kataragama Festival are Hindus, as the proceeding honour Skanda (also known as Murugan), the deity of Kataragama.
Kataragama is one of the 16 principal places of Buddhist pilgrimage to be visited in Sri Lanka. According to the chronicle of Sri Lankan history the Mahawamsa, when the Bo-sapling or pipal tree sapling under which Gotama Buddha attained enlightenment in North India was brought to the city of Anuradhapura 2,300 years ago, the warriors or Kshatriyas from Kataragama were present on the occasion to pay homage and respect.
Kataragama is a multi-religious sacred city as it contains an Islamic mosque within its temple complex as well, and that mosque boasts traditions of great antiquity.
In spite of the differences of caste and creed, many Sri Lankans show great reverence to God Kataragama. They honor him as a very powerful deity and beg divine help to overcome their personal problems or for success in business enterprises etc., with the fervent hope that their requests would be granted. They believe that God Kataragama actually exists and is vested with extraordinary power to assist those who ever appeal to him with faith and devotion in times of their distress or calamity. Many Tamils from other areas of Sri Lanka visit Kataragama.
02. KIRIWEHERA BUDDHIST DAGOBA
(3Kms away from the City of Kataragama)
The Buddhist Kiri Vehera dagoba which stands in close proximity to the Hindu temple was built by the King Mahasena. According to the legend, Lord Buddha, on his third and the last visit to Sri Lanka, was believed to have met the King Mahasena who ruled over the Kataragama area in 580 BC. Thus the local Sinhalese Buddhists believe that Kataragama was sanctified by Lord Buddha. The King met the Lord Buddha and listened to the Buddha`s discourse and as a token of gratitude, the dagoba was built on that exact spot where it now stands.
03. BUNDALA NATIONAL PARK-BIRD SANCTUARY
(36Kms Away From the Kataragama City center)
The Bundala National Park is a nature reserve situated in the South East of Sri Lanka. This secluded reserve is renowned for its herds of wild Elephants. The vast jungle areas of the Bundala National Park allow these majestic creatures to roam in their natural surroundings, away from human influence.
Hundreds of interesting species of birds, amphibians and reptiles also live within the boundaries of the Bundala National Park an ideal location for nature lovers.
04. SITHULPAWWA ANCIENT BUDDHIST TEMPLE.
(16Kms away from the Kataragama City Center)
Situated within the Yala Park 24kms from Tissa is Situlpahuwa a monastic complex. According to the ancient chronicles this has been a centre of Buddhist meditation and one of the largest housing up to 12000 monks. There are many drip edge caves comprising of donator inscriptions and is a must see for all tourists.
05. YALA NATIONAL PARK.
Also known as Ruhuna, is an important national park on the south east coast of Sri Lanka. The reserve covers 979 km², although only the original 141 km² are open to the public. Much of the reserve is parkland, but it also contains jungle, beaches, freshwater lakes and rivers and scrub land. The latter zone was punctuated with enormous rocky outcrops. The range of habitats gives rise to a good range of wildlife.
Yala has the world’s highest concentration of Leopards, although seeing this largely nocturnal carnivore still requires some luck. There are good numbers of Asian Elephants, crocodile, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo and Grey langurs amongst other large animals. The open parkland attracts birds of prey such as White-bellied Sea Eagle and the wetlands have waders, Painted Storks, and the rare Black-necked Stork.
Land birds of course are in abundance, and include Sirkeer Malkoha, Indian Peafowl and Sri Lanka Jungle fowl.
06. KIRINDA ANCIENT TEMPLE.
(30Kms away from The Kataragama City Center)
Kirinda is a historical important small port located Closed to the Kataragama Shrine Land. This Small Shrine Land can be visited all round the year. Must seen place during your way to Katarama or Yala as a tourist or even as a pilgrims.
According to the history, King Kelanitissa reigned over the west of the island from his capital at Kelaniya. Having suspected a Buddhist bhikshu (monk) of being involved in an intrigue between the Queen and his brother, King Kelanitissa had the monk tipped into a cauldron of boiling oil to the untold horror of his subjects.
It was prophesied that the kingdom could be saved only by way sacrificing a princess to the raging sea. The eldest daughter of the king, already reputed for her bravery, rose to the occasion to save her nation. Overcome with remorse, the king decided to atone for his sacrilegious act by making the sacrifice that would appease the gods. Accordingly he had a golden boat built, loaded it with one month’s provisions for one & cast it adrift with his daughter. The boat carried an inscription that on board is no less than a princess. The boat was cast away onto the shores of Kirinda & the news was carried to the King Kavantissa, who reigned in Ruhuna. It was already prophesied, that if the king was ever to marry, it would only be a princess arriving over the seas.
The princess, named Queen Vihara Maha Devi, for her bravery, bore the king two sons who were to become heroes. The elder son King Dutugemunu of Ruhuna became the greatest hero of Lanka by rescuing the nation from the marauding Dravidian invaders from south India. Viharamaha Devi herself is recognized as the heroine of Sri Lanka.
07. THISSAMAHARAMA BUDDHIST TEMPLE.
(18Kms away from the Katharagama City Center)
This is an ancient Buddhist temple in Tissamaharama, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It is one of the four major Buddhist monasteries established in Sri Lanka, after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera. The site of the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara was consecrated by Lord Buddha himself, who spent some time in meditation there with 500 arhats(individuals who have reached enlightenment), during his third visit to the island. Tissamaharama monastery had been recognized as a per-eminent Buddhist educational center of the southern Sri Lanka. The Tissamaharama Dagoba is one of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka.
08. LUNUGAMWEHERA NATIONAL PARK
(21Kms away from the Kataragama City Center)
Lunugamvehera National Park in Sri Lanka was declared in 1995, with the intention of protecting the catchment area of the Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife of the area. The national park is an important habitat for water birds and elephants. The catchment area is vital to maintain the water levels of the five tanks in the down stream of Kirindi Oya and wetland characteristics of Bundala National Park.This national park also serves as a corridor for elephants to migrate between Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park.The national park is situated 261 km (162 mi) southwest from Colombo. After being closed because of the Sri Lankan civil war, the national park is now open to the general public.
09. WEDASITY KANDA (MOUNTAIN)
(2.5Kms away from the city center)
This Holy rock mountain considered as one of the most important place during the visit at Kataragama or Yala.This mountain is believed that the God Murugan used to live and both Buddhists & Hindu Pilgrimages used to visit and get blessed.Now a days climbing the rock is not much difficult as there is a shuttle service is been arranged for the devotees to the top of the Mountain.
10. TISSA WEWA (LAKE)
(16Kms away from the Kataragama City Center)
This is considering as one of the largest tank built by ancestors of the Island. It is believed that the tank has been built by King Kavanthissa in the 02nd Century BC. This is one of the famous and fascinating destination for all tourists and pilgrims who visit yala and Kataragama.