Uggal Aluthnuwara Kataragama Devalaya is one of the most popular devalayas dedicated to the deity Kataragama Deviyo.
The historyof this Devalaya goes back to the time of “Beminitiya Seya”, also known as the Great Famine during 103-89 BC, during the reign of King Vattagamini Abhaya, known as Valagamba. It is said that human settlements were establish in this area after the devastating “Beminitiya Seya” famine. However proof any civilization of this era is yet to be discovered. The written history of the Uggal Aluthnuwara starts in 1382 when the king Suriya built the Medagama Devalaya in these jungles and dedicated it to the Kataragama Deviyo. It is believed that the king Suriya refers to Buvanekabahu V (1371-1408) of Gampola Kingdom who belonged to the the Suriya Clan.
In 1582, a king called Yapa Maharaja had made a vow at the Jack tree of the Medagma Devalaya to donate 1000 gold coins and to build a new devala building and a town at the site if he won a war. After his win, he developed a new town around the devalaya and built a brand new Devalaya adjoining the old Medagama Devalaya in addition to a temple and a stupa. What you see today is this devalaya built by Yapa Maharaja. Who this king really is, is debated since the use of Maharaja in the ancient documents belonging to the devalaya, historians belief he was not a regional king but one of the kings who ruled the country. But history does not mention any a king by this name.
It is said that this new town was called Aluth Nuwara ( new town) and since the temple was built by flattening a rock in to a flat surface it was Uggal ( Us-Gal) Aluthnuwara.
The Uggal Aluthnuwara Devalaya saw a revival in 1970s when gems started appearing the area and Gem Merchants with newly acquired wealth stated visiting the devalaya. A high ground area, about 75 meters south to the devalaya which was called Godella was was blocking view the devalaya possession from the Basnayake Nilame’s house. Therefore in 1978 it was decided to clear the Godella and flatten the land.
When the bulldozers started removing earth it was discovered this was not a earthen mound but a foundation of a building. Although the work has been immediately stopped considerable damage had already being done by the bulldozers. It has been now realized this foundation belonged to the older Medagama Devalaya.
Today you can see the Jack tree at which the Yapa Maharaja made his wow in 1582 and the ancient Bodhi tree near the ruins of Medagama devalaya in addition to the main devala premises.
Map of Uggal Aluthnuwara Kataragama Devalaya
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 Uggal Aluthnuwara Kataragama Devalaya
Route from Ratnapura to Uggal Aluthnuwara Kataragama Devalaya
|Distance : 53 km|
Travel time : 1.5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map