Kataragama a popular pilgrimage destination frequented by adherents of all religions in Sri Lanka.

Kataragama is a small town with clean, tree lined roads with rows of stalls selling garlands & platters of fruit-coconut, mango watermelon.

Reaching Kataragama 19km inland from Tissamaharama lies the small & remote town of Kataragama. Kataragama is one of most popular & most sacred pilgrimages sites of Sri Lanka. Like Adam’s Peak, it attracts Sinhalese Buddhists as well as Hindu Tamils. The adored site is visited by Muslims & Christians too.

Kataragama is easily visited as a day-trip from Tissa, but staying the night means you can enjoy the evening puja in a leisurely manner and imbibe some of the town’s backwater charm and laid-back rural pace. The town is at its busiest during the Kataragama festival, 

Kataragama Perahera festival 

held around the Esala poya day in July or August. The festival is famous for the varying forms of physical mortification with which some pilgrims express their devotion to Kataragama, ranging from crawling from the river to the Maha Devale to gruesome acts of self-mutilation: some penitents pierce their cheeks or tongue with skewers; others walk across burning coals – all believe that the god will protect them from pain. During the festival devotees flock to the town from all over Sri Lanka, some walking along the various pilgrimage routes which converge on Kataragama from distant parts of the island – the most famous route, 

the Pada Yatra, leads all the way down the east coast from Jaffna, through the jungles of Yala, and is still tackled by those seeking especial religious merit. Most of today’s visitors, however, come on the bus.

Kataragama town spreads out over a small grid of tranquil streets shaded by huge Indian rain trees – outside poya days and puja times, the whole place is incredibly sleepy, and its quiet streets offer a welcome alternative to the dusty mayhem that usually passes for urban life in Sri Lanka. During the evening puja, Kataragama is magically transformed. Throngs of pilgrims descend on the Sacred Precinct, while the brightly illuminated stalls which fill the surrounding streets do a brisk trade in garlands, fruit platters and other colourful religious paraphernalia, as well as huge slabs of gelatinous oil cake and other unusual edibles.


God kataragama

Skanda, the Hindu god of war, aka Karthika Kumara, Shuba, Mahasena, Devasena, Kadira, Agnibhuwa, Shanmukha, Kartikama, Murugan & Subramanya. The god is said to have come to the island to fight an enemy of the gods & having defeated the demon Tharaka at Velapura, today’s Kalutara, settled down at Kataragama. The Hindu war god in spite of six-faces & 12 arms doesn’t look dusky & ferocious at all. If anything, he is fair & handsome.

Maha Devale
Inside are three main shrines. Directly opposite the entrance gate is the principal shrine, that of God Kataragama, a simple quadrangular white building with carved wooden doors & walls decorated with pink lotuses, green Bo leaves & Elephants

Kirivehera (Buddhist)

Beyond the Maha Devale is a meeting hall on the north side of the square. From the east gate, a Tulip tree avenue leads 500m past further lines of stalls selling lotus flowers to the Kiri Vehera dating from 1 BC.It is a milk white large stupa with a well maintained peaceful courtyard. 

Sella Kataragama
Located 5km from Kataragama is the small town of Sella Kataragama. The tree lined, well sheltered road make the drive pleasant. Sella Kataragama is the place where god Kataragama first met his first consort Valli Amma.