Sella Kataragama – සෙල්ල කතරගම

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Kataragama is one of the few places in Sri Lanka which is worshipped by most of the popular religious people in Sri Lanka. According to the Buddhists, Kataragama is one of the 16 places visited by Buddha (solos maha stana) during his 3 visits to Sri Lanka.

Origin and History

The history of Kataragama goes back to the pre-Christian era and both Buddhist and Hindu literature have identified this place in various ways. According to chronicles some of the people who accompanied Vijaya from India in 543 BC established a village called Kajara-Gama which is thought to be the current Kataragama.

Sella Kataragama is a small town lying on the banks of Menik Ganga about 4 kilometres north-west of Kataragama which has been weaved into the legends of deity Kataragama ( Skanda Kumaraya) as much as Kataragama itself.

According to Hindu beliefs god Skanda is also known as Murugan, Arumugam, Kandasami (Skanda Swami), Subrahmanya, etc. Many legends describe the birth of this deity and according to Hindu legends, God Skanda came to Sri Lanka after a row with his wife Thevani and landed in the southern part of the island. He made Wedihiti Kanda near Kataragama his adobe. One day he saw a beautiful 16 year old local girl called Valli who was adopted by the veddha chieftain of the tribe who lived in the area.

Skanda unable to win her love consulted his brother god Ganesh to help him. Finding out that Valli feared elephants, a plan was devised for Ganesh to appear as an Elephant and Skanda to come to her rescue. Before turning into the elephant, Ganesh gave a pot of water to Skanda and asked him to pour the water onto him after the planned attack so he would turn back to the Human form. When Skanda approached Valli in the form of an old man at Sella Kataragama, she was choking on some food and in the eagerness to help her, he dropped all the water. At the same time, Ganesh appears in the form of an elephant and scares her. Skanda offered her to help with the condition of marrying him. Valli having no choice consents to marry him and then he appears in his true form. Unfortunately, Ganesh has to stay with an elephant head since Skanda has dropped the water.

And later it is believed that the newly wedded couple lived at Sella Kataragama.

 Present Sella Kataragama

Sella Kataragama area has been developed as another multi-cultural area attracting all walks of life from Buddhists, Hindus and the indigenous Veddas.

To enter the sacred area you need to cross the Menik Ganga ( river). The walk from the car park to the river is lined with shops selling sweetmeats, toys and memorabilia. On the other side of the river lies a plethora of kovils and devales including a Ganapathi Kovil, a Siva Kovil, a Kataragama Kovil,  a Valliamma Kovil, a Lakshmi Kovil, a Saman Devalaya and a temple dedicated to King Mahasen called Mahasen Viharaya.

For those on pilgrimage to Kataragama, a visit to Sella Kataragama is generally a permanent item in the itinerary. Newly married couples make it a point to visit the devales of Valli Amma to obtain blessings for the new life.

Also See

Map of  Sella Kataragama

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

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Travel Directions to Sella Kataragama

Route from Colombo to Sella Kataragama Route from Colombo to Sella Kataragama
Though : Awissawella – Ratnapura – Palmadulla – Udawalawe – Tanamalwila – Lunugamvehera
distance :245 km
Travel time : 5.00 – 6.00 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Southern Expressway –  Matara – Hambanthota
distance :283 km
Travel time : 5.00 – 6.00 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map


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