Okanda Malai is one of Sri Lanka’s famous Hindu worship places, which is located in the Ampara District. The temple of Skanda or Muruga is exactly located at the foot of the hill where his sweetheart Valli has occupied the peak of Okanda Malai. The temple is also known as Ukanthamalai Murugan Kovil or Ukantha Rock Temple.
The temple is nested in the thick jungle and rocks where the manifestation of Lord Muruga’s divine power emerges and embraces the pilgrims visiting from all parts of the country. Okanda Malai is visited by pilgrims and tourists who belong to varied religions and cultures. Especially during the last few days of its annual festival that takes place in a grand manner in July, nearly 30,000 of pilgrims attend and beg for Lord Muruga’s divinely blessings.
It is believed by the pilgrims that visiting this temple brings them good luck and divine intercession in times of difficulties. Poojas here are not confined to any particular time and it is performed at any time to spread the shrine blessings to the devotees at any time.
The Rock temple which is sited roughly about twelve miles south of Panama on the Kumuna-Panama jungle path is home to various colourful celebrations and festivals. Esala Festival that begins with the hoisting of the Mayoora flag is one such luxurious festival that draws the largest crowd to the temple during the 15 days where the last day is a full moon falling in the month of July.
Muhudu Maha Viharaya
An ancient temple called Muhudu Maha Viharaya is located alongside the Arugam Bay in Pottuvil. This is believed to be the place where Princess Viharamaha Devi set foot in the Ruhuna Kingdom. This Viharaya which has many archaeological facts dating back to 2000 years and bear many stories and tales connected with Kavantissa, king of Ruhuna, and his little princess. Tourists visiting this place can witness the ruins of two Bodhisatva statues with a standing Buddha statue which are believed to date back thousands years of history.
The interesting part of visiting Muhudu Maha Viharaya is the road heading towards the temple. Sumptuously spanning green paddy fields, a milk white Dagaba that could be seen from a distance over the fields, the splendid array of coconut and palmyrah trees, elephants crossing the road, wild birds that fly overhead, many passing villages with Tamil and Muslim families and many more make the journey worth it.