Jagath left his home very early morning (at 03.00 AM) to take Matara bound bus from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Jagath is living in Moratuwa, a suburb of Colombo. He is on a secret mission and heading to the Gatabaru Devala, only his wife knew about his journey. The remote temple sits near Matara town, well over 150 km from his home town.
The temple of Gatabaru
The temple sits in the southern province, near Matara town. Gatabaru Devala is an off the beaten track tourist site in Sri Lanka and rarely included in package tours such as 7 days Sri Lanka trip and 5 days Sri Lanka trip package.
The temple sits on a mountain known as Gatabaru mountain, at an elevation of 1500 feet above sea level. The temple is conveniently located on the Galle-Deniyaya main road, about 50 km from Galle. It is easy to find and easy to reach due to its location on the Galle-Deniyaya main road. Even though the temple is located in the southern province its reputation is gone far and wide on the island.
I had been to hundreds of temples on the island, as far as my experience the biggest draw of the temple is its historical value or exceptional belief involve with it like Gatabaru Devala. Usually, the religious value of all temples is the same. Temples like Dambulla cave temple, Tooth relic temple are popular due to its historical value while Temples like Gatabaru and Kataragama temple are popular for the supernatural power vested on them.
I had heard about Gatabaru Devala and its supernatural power but never had a chance to visit it. I was on the way to visit tooth relic temple to find information for my articles. I also visited tooth temple with my family and friends many times in the past, because tooth relic temple is extra special to us, but never visited Gatabaru temple.
This time I thought of visiting the temple because I can visit it without any detour and wasting of time. Today I’m heading to Sinharaja rainforest from Galle via Akuressa. I was on a trip to publish an article on a hotel, to promote their hotel, which sits near Sinharaja rainforest.
It took 1 hour for me to reach Gatabaru Deavala from Imaduwa exit of southern expressway. After leaving the southern expressway I drove towards Akuressa on Akuressa-Galle main road, for 53 km to reach Kotapala village, where Gatabaru temple is located.
I think you should be very attentive as you drive on this route otherwise you can easily miss the place. The temple is not very prominent to the passerby. The temple is like hidden in the woods, you can’t see it clearly from the road.
The journey is very enjoyable, the road is well maintained but a little bit narrow. It is better to maintain a moderate speed as the road is narrow and bends are frequent. There few small towns on the road but you pass a large number of empty lands that are in the grip of nature. The houses are built at regular intervals and there are big gaps like 50-100 meters between houses. The road is quite empty and as you nearer to the temple it is getting more and more rural. However, a perfect trip for nature lovers. Open the windows and turn your AC off to feel the fresh air.
The temple sits on the left side of the road and the opposite side of the road is a spacious parking area dedicated to the visitors. There were 2 big buses and a few small vehicles as I came to Gatabaru Devala. The people on the buses had made a long journey from Kalutara to visit Gatabaru Devala. Chanasena, who is working in Devala as helper told me that a large number of devotees are visiting the temple, a lot of pilgrims make on their way to temple.
From the northernmost city of Jaffna to the southern tip of Sri Lanka, many thousands of Buddhist temples, monasteries, hermitages, stupas and pagodas scattered all over the island, and show the way to the people to find the eternal bliss or Nirvana. The primary objective of the Buddhist temple is to function as a place of worship and teaching the devotees of principles of Buddhism.
Gatabaru Devala dedicated to God Rajjubandara
However, the temple of Gatababaru not only functions as an average temple that teaches the teaching of Buddha to devotees but also that help the devotees with its supernatural power. Usually, the Buddhist temples are consisting of 4 major elements Bo-tree, image house, Stupa and living quarters for monks. Other than above mentioned 4 element this temple has a Deavala, which is dedicated to worship God Rajjuru Bandara.
The historical value of Gatabaru Devala
According to the ancient chronicle Mahawamsa, the historical value of the temple goes back to the 1st century BC. The temple believed to be functioned as a temporary residence of King Walagambahu. Gatabaru also can be described as a cave temple made of natural granite caves. However, it is not the historical value neither religious importance of Gatabaru temple is popular for. The Gatabaru Deavala, a separate quarter in the temple, which is dedicated to God Rajjuru Bandara is the main draw of Gatabaru religious site.
What can we see in Gatabaru Devala
The temple is located in a very picturesque surrounding, which is frequented by monkeys. The temple is surrounded by Sinharaja, Morawaka and Rankwana mountain ranges.
A large number of Statues belong to Buddha Buddha statues as well as God figures can be witnessed in the temple. The is placed in many places and most of them are either in standing or seated posture. Apart from the statues, the visitors can also see a large number of painting, which are depicting various scenes of life of Buddha.
Worshipping God Rajjubandara
God Rajjubadara is believed to fight against injustice and punish the people, who commit a crime. Most people visit the temple based on this belief.
The devotees place the fruit plate on the altar when they visit the temple and keep the hands on the forehead while the priest begs the god to help the devotee, who present in the temple. The God of Gatabaru has the power to punish people and incur an ill fate on someone if he or she had committed a wrongdoing. Most people, who are visiting the Gatabaru Devala had been subjected to the wickedness of someone and he or she has no way to find justice in a formal way, therefore, they resort to God Rajjubandara and ask for justice.
Why Gatabaru Devala important
I asked Jagath, who is at the temple with a fruit plate, “what made you visit Gatabaru Devala. Because People are not visiting Gatabaru Devala on religious purposes”. Jagath said “We were having a lot of problem for a few years, a witch doctor told me that someone had cast a spell on my family. My business was not performing as it was in the past and kids were getting sick very often, especially the small one. Doctors said that the kid was fine and they could not trace any reason for his unceasing abdominal pain. Many “Kattadiya” witchdoctors tried to remove the spell but did not work. “
Jagath further said, “One of my friends told me about Gatabaru Devala and I came to the temple and told God about the troubles that I was going through.” Then Jagath was silent for a moment, he started to speak again bit emotionally.” It was a miracle after my Pooja at Gatabaru Devala, the spell was broken, my kid was back to normal and his pain disappeared. Now we are happy again, thank you God Rajjubanadara. I don’t know what could happen to us if this mighty god had not been there. My business is also performing as it was earlier.”
Then I asked Jagath, who had cast the spell on your family. Jagath said “It was a neighbour, he was envy on me because my business performing very well. He is not talking to us anymore and we have no friends anymore.”
Anything happened to your neighbour since you came to Ggatabaru Devala, I asked Jagath. “Yes, the cast is directed to, where it was originated. Unfortunately, his kid has a lot of problems now and the entire family is going through a very troubled period. He might be feeling the same pain that I had.”
It is customary to visit Gatabaru Devala again with a parcel of fruit when the wish is fulfilled, to thank God for the help rendered.
Most people that visit Gatabaru Devala has similar kind of stories of Jagath. Some has lost their value and not in a position to find it. Someone has broken their relationships and while some others have family problems. The belief of the devotees is the God Rajjubandara invoke the blessing, which causes them to see the relief and end of troubles.