Gatabaru Temple


Nestled atop a serene mountain along the Akuressa – Deniyaya Road (A17), between the towns of Morawaka and Deniyaya, lies a place of profound spiritual significance – the Gatabaru Temple, also known as Gatabaru Raja Maha Viharaya. Once overshadowed by its remote location, this temple has recently gained newfound popularity due to improved accessibility. A well-constructed tar road now winds from the mountain's base to the temple, making the ascent relatively more accessible, though still strenuous.

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Unveiling the Journey

The path to Gatabaru Temple is an expedition that merges nature's beauty with spirituality. As you embark on the journey, you'll traverse lush landscapes and captivating vistas. The temple's main attractions are spread across the mountain's rugged terrain, requiring a physically demanding and spiritually enriching climb.

Your exploration of Gatabaru Temple begins at the cave image house, a sanctuary adorned with intricate carvings and ancient artistry. The air is steeped in tranquillity, inviting you to contemplate and meditate. Further along the route, you'll encounter the device, another place of worship, followed by a gradual ascent to the stupa. This monumental structure stands as a testament to devotion and architectural prowess.

As you journey towards the Cave Temple, a remarkable sight greets you – a golden casket, meticulously crafted as a stupa, enclosed within a glass chamber. This awe-inspiring creation is a testament to the dedication and craftsmanship of those who honour the temple's legacy.

The Deities of Gatabaru Temple

Recently, Gatabaru Temple has gained prominence as a revered destination for spiritual seekers and devotees. The temple is home to the Getabaru Deiyo, a deity to whom offerings ("puja") are made and vows ("bara") are taken. The presence of Gatabaru Deviyo, known for his unique ability to enact curses upon enemies, adds an intriguing dimension to the temple's spiritual significance.

Legend holds that Gatabaru represents the darker facets of the renowned God Kataragama. Over time, as the karmic effects of good deeds elevated Kataragama's status among the gods, Gatabaru was compelled to withdraw to the secluded mountain sanctuary near Morawaka. In isolation, he exercises his formidable yet respected powers, evoking both fear and reverence among those who seek his blessings or fear his curses.

The Splendor of the Esala Perahera

One of the most anticipated events at Gatabaru Temple is the annual Esala Perahera of Getabaru Maha Devale. This grand procession, second in scale only to the famed Kataragama festival, draws visitors and devotees from far and wide. The rhythmic beats of traditional drums, captivating dance performances, and intricately adorned elephants combine to create a mesmerizing spectacle that celebrates spirituality and tradition.

Navigating the Path to Gatabaru Temple

For those eager to embark on this spiritual journey, Gatabaru Temple offers multiple routes for travel:

Colombo to Gatabaru Temple

  • Via: Southern Expressway – Welipenna exit – Neluwa – Morawaka
  • Distance: 175 km
  • Travel Time: About 4 hours

Galle to Gatabaru Temple

  • Via: Southern Expressway – Imaduwa exit – Akuressa
  • Distance: 76 km
  • Travel Time: About 2 hours

Gatabaru Temple is a testament to the enduring power of spirituality and the human quest for enlightenment. Its rich history, breathtaking vistas, and spiritual resonance beckon travellers and devotees alike. Whether you seek solace, blessings, or simply a connection with the divine, Gatabaru Temple promises an experience that transcends the ordinary and invites you to explore the depths of faith.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I visit Gatabaru Temple year-round? Yes, the temple is open to visitors throughout the year. However, checking for any special events or closures before planning your visit is advisable.

2. Are there any accommodations near Gatabaru Temple? While limited capacities are near the temple, you can find various lodging options in nearby towns such as Deniyaya and Morawaka.

3. What is the significance of the Esala Perahera at Gatabaru Temple? The Esala Perahera is a vibrant procession that celebrates the temple's spiritual heritage and attracts devotees from various parts of the country. It's a captivating display of culture, tradition, and devotion.

4. Can I participate in the rituals and offerings at the temple? The temple welcomes visitors to partake in rituals and make offerings. It's a unique opportunity to engage with the spiritual practices of the temple.

5. How do I reach the golden casket exhibit within the temple? The golden casket exhibit is situated along the route to the Cave Temple. Look for the glass room that houses this exquisite creation, which reflects the temple's reverence for artistic expression


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