Uva Province


Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public, and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as, Ruhuna National Park (Block 1) and Kumana National Park or ‘Yala East’ for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and aquatic birds. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. Among the largest is Lunugamvehera National Park. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. 

Katharagama Temple

Kataragama was living in India with his wife Tevanai, with whom he had a 'tiff'. He left her and went to Ceylon landing at Dondra. Thence he went to Veddahundkanda — a hill above Kataragama—where he lived alone.One day out hunting he met Walliamma, the adopted daughter of a local Veddha. He proposed marriage and she refused. Thereupon he went and consulted his brother Ganesha and asked for his help.

Next day he appeared as an old Brahmin before Walliamma and asked for food. She gave him some but he said he could not eat it unless he had a drink of water to wash it down. So she agreed to show him the way to the well. On the way he asked her if she was not afraid of living alone in the chena while all the men were away hunting.
She said she was afraid of nothing except elephants. Immediately Ganesha appeared as an elephant and Walliamma clung to Kataragama asking him to protect her (a most amusing fresco of the scene). He said he would do so if she would marry him. She agreed and the elephant disappeared. So Kataragama brought her back to the chena. On their return her family and friends (Veddhas) rushed out to attack Kataragama whereupon he turned himself into a tree. The Veddhas were proceeding to cut down the tree when at the first blow blood gushed out, so the Veddhas thereby knew him to be a God and agreed to the marriage. Thus Kataragama and Walliamma lived together happily for many years.

After a while Thevanai being tired of being a grass-widow sent Muttulingam Sami—Kataragama's teacher—and a man called Mohamed Navi to search for Kataragam. They searched for a long time and were giving up the task as hopeless when one day Muttulingam Samy found that his opium pipe, which he had left behind the previous day, had been smoked. By this he knew that Kataragam must have done it and that he could not be far off. He was then soon found and was asked to return to India. At first Kataragam consented but afterwards refused when he was told that Walliamma could not come too. Kataragam however persuaded Muttulingam Samy to stay behind, but Mohamed Navi returned to India and betrayed Kataragam's whereabouts to Thevanai. Thevanai came forthwith to Ceylon and Kataragam built a Kovil for Muttalingam Samy and a mosque for Mohamed Navi on either side of Walliamma's Devale. And now when the perahera conducts Kataragam to Walliamma's shrine there is a furious bell ringing and beating of drums and other loud noises in Thevanai's shrine to drown Thevanai's cries—or as others say to distract her attention. The noise would do either easily!It is curious how the part of Mohamed Navi is dragged into the story so as to give the Mohamedans a place in the worship. But they have to "take a back seat" as owing to Navi's betrayal of Kataragama no Mohamedan is allowed to appear within the temple precincts during the perahera under penalty of being beaten.