Sella Kataragama

Deeply connected to the major religious sects of the country, the little town of Sella Kataragama, located more than 5 ½ hours away from Colombo, is an eclectic mix of history, nature, culture, religion and folklore that still reverberates to this day. Although small, Sella Kataragama is a treasure trove for the culture enthuse and the nature lover looking to unravel the ancient beliefs and traditions of the Paradise Island of Sri Lanka, along with its natural bliss.

Top Reason to Visit

Considered to be one of the ‘Solosmastana’ (1 of the 16 sacred places visited by Lord Buddha), according to Buddhist tradition and considered to be a domain for a number of deities such as God Skanda, Lord Ganesh and Lord Siva, according to Hindu tradition, the little town is shrouded in legendary tales of folklore. Coupled with the holy waters of the Menik Ganga (River of Gems), the top reason to visit this pilgrimage town in Sri Lanka is the fact that it is a melting pot of culture and religion that embodies the unity in diversity that thrives in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

While You’re There

Ancient tradition beckons:

According to ancient scripture, it is at Sella Kataragama that God Skanda persuaded his future wife Valli Amman to take his hand in marriage. This was eventually realized with the help of his brother, Lord Ganesh. Upon marriage, God Skanda took abode in the nearby town of Kataragama with his wife, Valli Amman, who was then joined by the god’s first wife, Thevani Amman. As a result, the towns of Kataragama and Sella Kataragama are considered to be domains of the deities who protect and bring blessings to the island, thus the reason as to why many Hindus, Buddhists and even the indigenous Veddha community makes a pilgrimage, at least once a year to receive the blessings of the deities. This is best seen during the months between June to August, with the Paadha Yatra (foot pilgrimage) and Esala Perahera (procession). However, that is just one half of the fable when it comes to the historical significance of Sella Kataragama. Just lying on the banks of the fabled Menik Ganga, are a number of temples dedicated to Lord Ganesh, Valli Amman, Lord Siva and even a temple dedicated to King Mahasen called the Mahasen Viharaya.

According to Buddhist teachings, Sella Kataragama is one of the 16 hallowed places the Lord Buddha visited during his 3 visits to the island, further making it one of the important places of pilgrimage for the entire Buddhist world, thus making Sella Kataragama truly a place for all walks of life to converge and become blessed by the higher powers.

Reconnect with nature:

The multicultural town also boasts of untarnished natural bliss, as it is surrounded by abundant foliage that follows the gentle stream of the Menik Ganga, making it perfect to just relax and reconnect with nature’s tranquility. Moreover, Sella Kataragama serves as a great base camp to set off on an adventure to one of the premier national parks in the country; the Yala National Park. Further making it an ideal location for the nature lover to delve into the Paradise Island’s lush offerings.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about in Sella Kataragama is relatively easy due to its main attractions being located in close proximity to each other. It is highly suggested that you travel by foot, as opposed to travelling by tuk-tuk, since it allows you to witness the culture of the town in its entirety.

Weather: Sella Kataragama experiences a relatively calmer weather pattern, as opposed to other places in the country. On average, the pilgrimage town in Sri Lanka experiences temperatures of up to 28°C with a relatively stable humidity.

Money: Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted here, apart from the supermarkets. Therefore, it is imperative that you carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, LKR 50s and LKR 100s, so as to make those transactions all the more easier.

Clothing: Due to the religious importance of the area, it is important to adhere to the attire that is specified by religious tradition. In other words, modest attire is expected.

Safety: this multicultural town is a very safe town and has an accommodating society. However, it is always wise to keep a watchful eye on your personal belongings at all times.

Meals and refreshments: The town only sports a few places where you can purchase snacks and soft drinks, however, you could opt for your accommodation provider to cover this for you.

Located near the equally fabled town of Kataragama, Sella Kataragama is an ideal location for the culture enthuse and the nature lover to discover the unique ancient culture and the rustic grandeur of the Paradise island of Sri Lanka.

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