Ulpotha has a living history over 5,000 years old and is rooted in the oldest continuously inhabited region on the island. According to legend, travelling mendicants from the foothills of the Himalayas came in search of the sacred site associated with the Lord Kataragama, an incarnation of the god-child Murugan and the son of Shiva. They believed that Ulpotha was this sacred place, as its seven hills matched the description contained in ancient spiritual lore. After the head priest had a vision in which he was shown how to perform a special devotional ritual, or pooja, they built a temple dedicated to their tantric god at what is now the entrance to the village.
The mountain directly above Ulpotha was also where Prince Saliya, the son of the island’s most storied king, Dutugemunu, established his romantic court over two thousand years ago after he rejected royal life. He married an outcaste woman by the name of Asokamala, who is described in the ‘Ramayana’, the country’s millennia-old mythological and historical epic, as a woman of peerless and legendary beauty. Prince Saliya, the only heir ever to have willingly forfeited his right to the throne, is said to have escaped the ancient royal city of Anuradhapura with his gypsy bride through a secret tunnel hidden in a local cave.
There are 11 charming guest huts in Ulpotha, 10 of which are for two guests and one for three. All of them are built using traditional wattle and daub with comfortable beds, excellent mosquito nets, cupboards, fresh water, towels and offer a sarong to wear and take home. The huts are of an open, airy design that facilitates the sense of being one with nature. Twice a year, each hut is hand painted using different coloured clays, where no designs are ever repeated. Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery and fabrics that reflect traditional village practices and aesthetics.