Experience History & Culture in Yala
The region of Yala is a popular tourist destination, primarily because of the Yala and Kumana National Parks which offer great wildlife safari experiences. However, the region, located in the South East of Sri Lanka, has much more to offer, especially for those who are intrigued by history and culture.
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya
The territory of Yala wasn’t always a wild jungle. It once belonged to the ancient Kingdom of Ruhuna, which flourished from the 3 rd century BC to the 13 th century AD. As such, there are still some historic remains that can be visited. The Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist rock temple, located deep within the Yala National Park, that dates back to the 2 nd century BC. The site is still a spiritual place, visited by devotees from around the island, but it is also a treasure trove of old artifacts, statues and cave paintings.
Bordering Yala is the culturally significant town of Kataragama. The Temple here is dedicated to the Kataragama Deviyo (deity) who is revered as a guardian deity of Sri Lanka. It is an important place of worship for both Buddhist and Hindu communities. A grand perahera (religious parade) takes place somewhere between July – August, and it is definitely an interesting time to visit the town.
The Kiri Vehera, which can also be found in Kataragama, is another significant site of Buddhism. Dating back to the 6 th century BC, it is believed to have been built in the spot in which Lord Buddha visited Sri Lanka for the last time.
Great Basses Reef & Little Basses Reef
Located off the coast of Yala, the Reef of Great Basses and Little Basses is a great place to visit if you are an experienced diver. In addition to containing a fascinating array of marine life, the seabed is also the final resting place of an 18 th Century Indian Moghul vessel that sank off the coast of South East Sri Lanka. Little Basses Reef, referred to as Kuda Ravana Kotuwa (Ravana’s Little Fort) by the locals, is believed to be where King Ravana, of the Ramayana, constructed one of his fortresses. There are also two significant lighthouses that were built by the British on the reef.