Jetwing Logo

Exploring Kebiliththa Siyambalawa Devalaya – A Spiritual Retreat Amidst Nature’s Beauty

Yala is located in south-eastern Sri Lanka, and is renowned as one of the best national parks in the island. This lush reserve borders the Indian Ocean and combines the beauty of Sri Lanka’s wilderness with the blue seas beyond. Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts can embark on one of the best things to do in Yala by going on a safari to view the diverse fauna in this iconic park, which includes elephants, leopards, deer and birds.

Visitors with a more spiritual bent can also travel to Kebiliththa, a spiritual site considered highly significant to Buddhists and Hindus. Located in Block 4 of the Yala National Park, this ancient shrine, also known as “Maha Siyambalawa Devalaya”, attracts devotees looking for a peaceful retreat.

Let’s take a closer look at this historic devalaya, as well as the best hotels in Yala.

The Maha Siyambalawa Devalaya is a shrine situated within the Kebiliththa premises, in Yala, Sri Lanka. According to legend, the Kataragama deity makes his abode at Kebiliththa during certain times of the year. Though Kebiliththa is not as popular for pilgrims as Kataragama, it draws in a fair number of Hindu and Buddhist devotees. Since this site is so sacred, a visit requires prior preparation. Visitors are asked to stay away from all forms of meat, fish, eggs and alcohol for at least a week. Regulations must be closely followed when worshipping and performing puja, and the pilgrimage must be undertaken with faith and devotion.

The shrine is named after the striking, nine-foot high tamarind (Siyambala) tree within the devalaya premises, thought to be an offshoot of the original tree that once stood there. Also present in the vicinity is an ancient Bo tree, surrounded by ruins⁠— the remnants of rock pillars that once encircled the devalaya. This sacred area is thought to have been part of a Buddhist monastery in ancient times.

When the Dutch arrived in Sri Lanka in 1602, they looted many Buddhist temples in the coastal region and carried away valuable gems and gold relics. According to legend, the custodians of the Kataragama Devalaya gathered all valuables and sought refuge in Kebiliththa. They hid the treasures in a tamarind tree trunk and handed over the custodianship to a man named Kebiliththe Rala. When the Dutch came looking for the hidden treasures, Kebiliththe Rala is said to have fought bravely and killed ten men, but he died of his wounds. It is said that the spirit of Kebiliththe Rala watches over this devale.

You will have to book Kebiliththa tours to reach the shrine. This particular route is known for being one of the most challenging 4×4 tracks in the country, as it involves crossing rivers and navigating through muddy terrain. It is highly recommended to travel with two jeeps to provide support.

While Siyambalawa Devalaya is one of the lesser known places to visit in Yala, tourists can also travel to well-known religious sites situated nearby, like Kataragama devalaya and Sithulpauwa, an ancient monastery dating back to the 2nd century BC. The Buduruwagala rock statues are another famous attraction in the area.

Accommodation in Yala, Sri Lanka, offers some of the most exceptional hotels in the southern coast.Jetwing Safari Camp is situated at the edge of the national park and provides an exciting wildlife experience. Consisting of cosy cabins set amidst natural surroundings, guests will be greeted by stunning vistas and immersive jungle sounds. Relax in luxury at Jetwing Yala, nestled between the ocean and the park. This environmentally-conscious five-star hotel offers a spacious pool, spa facilities and picturesque views of the surrounding wilderness.

Yala National Park is not only a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts, but also home to the religious site of Kebiliththa, offering visitors a peaceful retreat and cultural experience.

Make this happen