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The Batathota cave houses an ancient temple and is a popular place of Buddhist pilgrimage, which is quite evident by the provisions made for the continuous stream of pilgrims that visit these precincts. A huge vehicle park and rows of stalls selling all kinds of everything marks the entrance of the climb up to the cave temple.
Rock cut stone steps mark the route, and there are hand railings in some places for the convenience of pilgrims. The path is under a canopy of trees. Simple ferns grow from the damp rock roof of the cave giving the impression of green chandeliers. These ferns are like a wondrous gift of nature.
The cave at the top, facing the Sri Pada maluwa, is huge with a high roof, airy and full of light. At the entrance there is a pond filled with fish, called the Manduka Vila. A huge frog made of cement adorns the centre. Towards the back of the cave is the temple shrine room, a dagoba and a small Devalaya.
An attractive Makara Thorana adorns the entrance to the shrine room. Inside is a 21 cubit reclining Buddha statue, believed to have been constructed during the days of King Nissankamalla. Behind the statue are some interesting paintings. They depict a crowd of Arahats standing amongst the clouds. In their hands they hold bunches of Sal flowers.
It is believed that these sacred precincts were established by King Walagambahu, to whom most cave temples are attributed.
There is also a further belief that Diwaguha or Bhagawalena, associated with the Lord Buddha’s visit to Lanka, referred to this place. The most venerable Agga Maha Pandith, the Balangoda Ananda Maithriee Thero, having examined the surroundings, the frescoes in the shrine room, cave lore and beliefs of the area, was of the opinion that this was the most likely spot that could be identified as the Divaguhava where the Lord Buddha rested on his visit to the sacred mountain, the Sri Pada.
The historic cave temple of Batathota Lena can be reached by travelling approximately 7 kms along the Kuruwita Eratna Road, proceeding a further 1 km at the Batatota Junction up to the Batathota School, and a further ¾ km along the road.
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