Haro-Hara or Pada Yatra or better known as foot pilgrimages are still given immense prominence in Sri Lanka. The Kataragama Pada Yatra is a tradition exercised to stimulate body, mind and spirit. This pilgrimage is an age old tradition that coincides with the Kataragama festival which is an ancient festival of exotic dances and rituals. It is best attended while staying at a Tissamaharama hotel. You may want to check out Kithala Resort for its relaxing environs and location close to Kataragama.
This resort is located in Tissamaharama close to Yala National Park and the holy city of Kataragama. The hotel faces a green pavilion of rich paddy fields and offers guests a chance to relax while interacting with nature. The deluxe rooms and suites are well planned with all modern amenities while the hotel itself offers a variety of excursions to national reserves such as Bundala, Yala, Udawalawe and Kataragama.
Kataragama is a holy town held in reverence by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and the indigenous Vedda tribes of Sri Lanka. Devotees from South India make the arduous pilgrimage to the famous Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya. This is what is known as the Haro Hara Traditional Journey from the north – India to the south – Sri Lanka. It is a time honoured journey that has devotees paying homage to the Gods of Kataragama.
In days of yore treks from the northern edge of the country to the southern jungles where Kataragama is located were initiated by the indigenous Vedda tribes. It was followed as tradition by other races and nationalities as the temples fame grew. It was only in the 1950’s that a road suitable for vehicles was built from Tissamaharama to Kataragama. Prior to this pilgrims used the traditional bullock cart to complete the journey.
It is due to the arduous nature – even today- of the pada yatra or Haro-Hara journey through thick jungle to Kataragama that devotees who attempt the journey are considered dedicated religious specialists. Well worth experiencing Kataragama is best accessed from a Tissamaharama resort.
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.