Yatagala Temple, locally known as “Yatagala Rajamaha Vihara” is around 2300 years old rock cave temple which is unknown for most of the tourists who visit Sri Lanka. This is a very peaceful place with few local visitors who visit to worship.
How to reach :
Yatagala Temple is located 4km inland Unawatuna, to reach, drive around 5 to 6km towards Unawatuna from Galle and turn left from “Eramudugaha Junction” to “Heenetigala road” (Unawatuna railway station road) and within 2km you will reach the temple. When entering the road you will also see a sign board with the name of the temple, but it’s in “Sri Lankan native language” as I remember. If you are coming by train you can get down from Unawatuna railway station and walk around 1.8km to the temple.
If you are coming from the Matara side, drive towards Galle and turn right to Unawatuna railway station road from “Eramudugaha Junction” , which is around 500m ahead from Unawatuna Junction.
Features & History :
Yatagala Buddhist temple offers a rewarding insight into the Island’s Buddhist heritage though it’s not a part of the Buddhist community. The temple was built as a rock formation and follows a similar structure to “Dambulla cave temple” . This was built during the time when King Devanampiyatissa (250 – 210BC) of the Anuradhapura Kingdom (The first kingdom of Sri Lanka) ruled the country. A saplings from the revered Sri Maha Bodhi Tree was planted here during this period.
As ordered by King Parakramabahu the second (1234 – 1269) from Dambadeniya kingdom, to his minister “Devapathiraja” ,to built a 09m reclining buddha statue out of the gigantic rock outcrop. The statue is located inside the image house. [Unfortunately I haven’t taken a photo of 🙁 ]
Out of the 03 kings who offered royal patronage to the temple, King Sri Vikarakama Rajasingha (1798-1815),from Kandyan kingdom offered gifts of lands and many other valuables gifts which still remain under the custody of the chief priest of the temple . The custodian priest also administrates other ancient Buddhist temples such as Sithulpawwa Raja maha vihara and Magul maha vihara (temple).
The paintings of the walls & ceiling of the image house are mostly from the Kandyan kingdom era as they showcase Kandyan typical painting style. These paintings showcase the significant events of the Buddha’s life and floral motifs from Kandyan era.
Apart from the temple , the temple looks out over the rice fields & hamlets as you ascend the long flights of stairs.
In more recent times Yatagala was declared as a sacred area and development work was initiated to restore it to past glory. The devotees, with the donations for the temple have built a golden fence to guard the Bo tree and also placed a Samadhi Buddha statue under the Bo tree. Moreover the large cave structure formed by four huge granite boulders was also turned into a meditation hall and a granite Samadhi Buddha statue was placed inside. This cave structure formed by the granite boulders have been used by the monks to meditate for over 1500ys.
These information was gathered through my research and my recent visit to the temple. I went through different blogs & articles where there are different information, so I gathered all those information and made an all in one blog. According to my knowledge this is the only blog you will find with all information in the same platform, so feel free to read and share the knowledge, also if could give me a feedback in the comment section below, that would be much appreciated. ~ Kaku 🙂