Wahakotte was known as “Wasala-Kotte” – Castle in the Fort. It is believed that there was a palace and a fort, where the present church is situated, the village was so called, because it protected the palace, traces of which are still visible. There is another legend to say that “Waha”-poison; “Kotte” – pillow; means poisonous pillow because a queen had committed suicide after hearing of her husband’s death at war.
History records that when king Dutugemunu defeated king Elara, in 164 B.C. he had built a small fortress at Wahakotte. There are still some ruins of ancient buildings on a rocky-hill called “Maligatenna” – Palace-field. These ruins show that Wahakotte was once a prosperous town with a fort, ramparts, a moat and thorough fares, where sub-kings lived. One can see Dambulla Rock Temple to the north from Maligatenna. The Ceylon Alamanac – records that there were ruins of “Rangalle Nuwara” and a Hindu Kovil – “Pattini Devalaya” in the woods close by. The history records that the first christian Monarch – Yamasinghe, adopted son of Karalliyadda Bandara, who later became Don Phillip after embracing christianity in Goa, India, was received by some rebels from Kandy and was crowned at Wahakotte by the Portuguese. It is also recorded that Don Francisco Wijekoon, who organised the Kandyan rebels against king Rajasinghe, too, was present on this occasion.
King Rajasinghe of Kandy, who fought against the Portuguese captured some of them and made them settle down in Wahakotte. These captured people earned their living by engaging themselves in cultivation, business and trade, and women sewing dresses for women, men sewing dresses for men; some engage themselves in running taverns and making liquor.
The people of Wahakotte are slightly fairer in complexion, compared to other rural people in the area, though there are also very dark people among them. Because of this complexion neighbouring villagers still refer to them as “Pruthugeesi” or the decendants of “Parangi”. Some had Kandyan names mixed with Portuguese hames, like Don Juan Wijeratne or Dona Issabella Ekanayake. When the Dutch captured the areas that were under the Portuguese rule, they confiscated all catholic institutions, churches, schools and religious places, chased away the Catholic priests and banned all religious activities.