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Gatabaruwa Rock Temple

ico_maps_add_2 Lanka Travel Guide. Kotapola, Sri Lanka
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Transport

02 Wheels

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Season

August/September

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Group Size

Unlimited

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Languages

English, Sinhalese

Overview

The historic “Gatabaruwa Rajamaha Viharaya” and the temple of god “Rajjuru Bandara” are located on the Gatabaru hill, 1500 feet above sea level, on the Galle-Deniyaya road at the village of kotapola in the Kotapola division, Matara District of Sri Lanka.The Gatabaru cave temple is placed in a very scenic environment between the Rakwana mountain range, the Singharaja mountain range and the Morawaka range, rising above many smaller mountains that surround it. It is attached to the Diyadawa forest and lies 2 km from the Kotapola town. A 30 feet cave on the top of the hill gives sanctuary to a large statue of Lord Buddha in the sleeping state with a statue of Mugalan Thero at His feet and a statue of Sariuth Thera at the side of His head. On the two sides of the Statue are built, a temple of god Rajjuru Bandara and a temple of gods Vishnu and Katharagama.

The Discovery of Gatabaru Viharaya

According to Sri Lankan folklore the period of rule of the great king Walagamba, who had Anuradhapura as his kingdom and who achieved greatness through the construction of Gal Viharaya, was a time that saw the construction of a multitude of Buddhist temples in the country. It is believed that the Gatabaru Viharaya was also built during this time. God Rajjuru Bandara, who is believed to inhabit places of worship, commands the faith, a respectful fear and an infinite respect of the people of Ruhuna, or the southern region of the country. It is well accepted that king Walagamba, the unique creator of Gal Viharaya, built this temple as a tribute to god Rajjuru Bandara. This was in return for the help and protection he offered to king Walagamba while the king was in hiding in the two regions Ruhunu and Maya, organizing armies to bring the nation under a single rule. An indication of the close link between king Walagamba and god Rajjuru Bandara is given by statues of god Basnahira, which are found only in places of worship built by king Walagamba.

It is revealed in ancient writings such as Mahawansa, that king Walagamba, fought Tamils for 12 years and defeated them and then built beautiful temples with statues and other creations worthy of human worship, at those caves he once lived while the nation was in the hands of the enemy. Further, although ancient stone inscriptions indicate that king Walagamba lived in forest caves, archaeologists are of the view that landslides that had occurred in the area surrounding the Gatabaru Viharaya over the years have destroyed many archaeological stone inscriptions and other evidence.

Tale of the discovery of this cave temple in 1834 AD, which by then had been hidden deep inside the jungle for centuries, is also quite interesting. At the time, inhabitants of this area mostly made their livelihood through chena and paddy cultivation in addition to a few who were hunters. One day in 1834 a person by the name of Eliyashami who lived in Kotapola, climbed the Gatabaru hill looking for game. He came upon a Sambhur deer and started chasing it. The deer ran and hid inside a cave followed by the hunter. Once Eliyashami, peeked inside the cave looking for the deer, what he saw amazed him. In front of him was the “18 riyan” (approx. 9 yards) long lying-statue of the Lord Buddha! Eliyashami gave up the hunt and returned immediately to the village to inform others. A person named Morawaka Katagoda acting on this information led the villagers in clearing up the surrounding jungle and renovating the cave temple.

In the same year Ven. Weerasinghekande Sumangala Thera took residence in the newly built monastery at this location, by the invitation of villagers.

vidence shows that the beautiful statue thus discovered was not the only ancient artistic creation at this cave. It had once also housed many other venerated statues and murals that relate to the Anuradhapura era. However, only one set of murals showing a beautiful patch of lotuses have survived the forces of nature until this day.

The cave has been carved in the ancient technique of “kataram” in order to prevent rain water seeping inside. It is also said in folklore that there was a secret passage from this cave to a place called Paramagala in the past.

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The historic “Gatabaruwa Rajamaha Viharaya” is located on the Gatabaru hill.
  • It is well accepted that king Walagamba, the unique creator of Gal Viharaya.
  • The cave has been carved in the ancient technique of “kataram” in order to prevent rain water seeping inside.

What you will do

Expand All
The Esala Perahera
The Esala Perahera

The Esala Perahera in kotapola is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka

The Discovery of Gatabaru Viharaya
The Discovery of Gatabaru Viharaya

According to Sri Lankan folklore the period of rule of the great king Walagamba, who had Anuradhapura as his kingdom and who achieved greatness through the construction of Gal Viharaya, was a time that saw the construction of a multitude of Buddhist temples in the country. It is believed that the Gatabaru Viharaya was also built during this time.

God Rajjuru Bandara
God Rajjuru Bandara

God Rajjuru Bandara, who is believed to inhabit places of worship, commands the faith, a respectful fear and an infinite respect of the people of Ruhuna, or the southern region of the country. It is well accepted that king Walagamba, the unique creator of Gal Viharaya, built this temple as a tribute to god Rajjuru Bandara.

Kataram
Kataram

The cave has been carved in the ancient technique of “kataram” in order to prevent rain water seeping inside. It is also said in folklore that there was a secret passage from this cave to a place called Paramagala in the past.

Statue of Lord Buddha
Statue of Lord Buddha

A 30 feet cave on the top of the hill gives sanctuary to a large statue of Lord Buddha in the sleeping state with a statue of Mugalan Thero at His feet and a statue of Sariuth Thera at the side of His head.

Included/Exclude

  • check-1 Hiking
  • check-1 Parking
  • check-1 Accommodation
  • check-1 Nature & Ancient Place
  • remove Liquor
  • remove Tickets

FAQs

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What is the best root?
Colombo > Galle > Akuressa > Pitabeddara > Morwaka > Kotapola
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how can we find accommodation?

Accommodation facility available free from Temple.

There are several hotels in kotapola.

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Can we use normal vehicle to reach to top of the hill?
Yes, you can use car,van or similar.

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Ico_close Lanka Travel Guide.
District
Matara
Province
Southern
Distance from Colombo
189 Km

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