Matara historically belongs to the area called Ruhana, one of the three kingdoms in Sri Lanka (Thun Sinhalaya). First Indians who arrived to the island country according to the Mahawansa settled in the area, along the banks of Nilwala river. Matara was ruled by Sinhala kings for thousands of years and this is evident by the ancient temples and shrines built by them such as temples in Dondra (Devinuwara) and Weherahena. The temple in the middle of the town is also built by ancient kings and now it is a very popular sacred place among the Buddhists in the area. In 16th and 18th centuries Matara was ruled by Portuguese and Dutch respectively.