Archaeological Ruins of Dematagala in Yala National Park (යාල දෙමටගල පුරාවිද්‍යා නටබුන්)

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Yala National Park, including 5 blocks and the adjoining Kumana National Park consists of one of the largest land areas of Sri Lanka where wildlife roam free. Although a wildlife park now, many centuries ago, This area was covered in thriving cities of the Ruhuna Magama kingdom.

Dematagala is the highest rock of the Yala Strict Nature Reserve (Block 2) and much of the surrounding country. Brohier describes these as; It is represented by twin peaks, pictures to the imagination of a dusky woman of Amazonian girth reclining with bared breasts: from these peaks flows a streamlet appositely named, and to this day called Tambara Ara -meaning “stream from the breasts”.

These twin peaks were possibly last climbed by the surveyor who did the topographical mapping of the surrounding country in 1921. The summit of the higher of the two peaks is 265 meters, the other 15 meters less. They are described as affording a magnificent vantage point, extending on the north to the blued outline of the Haputale hills in the background, and the dull purple blob of Monaragala against it; on the south, to an embayed coastline marked by a white line of foamy surf and the Little Basses lighthouse poised between shore and horizon. Dematagala is best reached from the northern boundary of the reserve via Lunuatu Galge; the climb to its 265-meter peak is a task for only the brave.

Many thousands of years ago even before the birth of Christ, a massive stupa stood on this 265 meter high rock. Chanting of Pirith by the Buddhist priests on the top of this rock would have been heard for kilometres.

C. W. Nicholas, Warden of the Department of Wildlife between 1950-57, reports that on the summit of Dematagala, they found a ruined dagoba and, at the foot of the southern face, the remains of a large monastery founded in pre-Christian times. They counted fifty-one drip caves, an unbreached dagoba nearly fifty feet high, the remains of four stone pillared buildings and two limestone images of the Buddha. The inscriptions were from the second century BCE (Crowe, 1956).

Two of these inscriptions were published in the Archaeology Commissioners Report of 1934 and republished by Parnavithana in “Inscriptions of Ceylon”

Inscription 1

Dematagala Inscription 01

Bata-Tisaha sagasa.
[The cave of] lord Tissa, [is given] to the Sangha

Inscription 2

Si[!*] Amataya Ba-
-rayaha upa.saka
Nakayaha mataya Laci-
-ya lene catudisika saga-
-hataye niyate

Hail ! The cave of Laci, the mother of the minister Baraya 5 and the lay-devotee Nakaya, has been dedicated to the Sangha of the four quarters.

Thereafter no report has been published about this site after Nicholas’s report. Being located in a Strict Nature Reserve, visitors cannot enter this section of the Yala National Park without a proper permit. Unfortunately, this does not apply to treasure hunters. Not much information is available on the current status of these ruins.

List of Archaeological Sites inside Yala and Kumana National Parks


  • Crowe, P.K. (1956) Diversion of a Diplomat in Ceylon. Great Britain: D Van Nostrand Company Inc.
  • Brohier, R.L., (2000). Seeing Ceylon,  4th ed., Colombo 10: Sooriya Publishers.
  • Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon :Volume 1 : Early Brahmi Inscriptions. 1st ed. Colombo: Department of Archaeology.

Also See

Map of Archaeological Ruins of Dematagala in Yala

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Archaeological Ruins of Dematagala in Yala

The park can be reached through Southern Highway. It is 275 kilometres away (the shortest path through Ratnapura avoiding the Highway but travel time is longer) from Colombo.

Route from Colombo to Yala National Park  (Ruhuna) EntranceRoute from Kataragama to Yala National Park  (Ruhuna) Entrance
Through : Southern Highway – Mattala – Tissamaharama – Kirinda
Distance : 275 km
Travel time : 4.30 hours
Driving directions : see on Google map
Through Tissamaharama – Kirinda
Distance : 40 km
Travel time : 45 minutes.
Driving directions : see on Google map


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