Nineteen kilometres further inland from Tissamaharama lies the small and remote town of KATARAGAMA, one of the three most venerated religious sites in Sri Lanka,held sacred by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims alike. The most important of the town’s various shrines is dedicated to the god Kataragama . This sacred city is located adjoining beautiful yala national park and sithulpawwa Buddhist monastery dates back more than 2500 years.
According to the legend, victorious King Dutugamunu (161-137 BC) built the original shrine following his series of long battles against the mighty forces of Dravidian invader, Elara, at Anuradhapura. The legend goes to say that God Kataragama helped King Dutugamunu’s formidable Sinhalese army to cross the River Menik, which would have been an unassailable mighty river a couple of millennium ago
If you visit katragama in between july to August. Never miss to experience illustrious kataragama festival.people from around the country and large number of tourists flocks to see the grandeur of the town which becomes bold, bright, busy and full of life. A festival procession that travels through the town’s roads, the Kataragama Perahera is conducted in honour of the god Kataragama, also referred to as god Skanda. Countless devotees and visiting spectators gather for this traditional annual event.
While elephants take centre stage at this parade, regional dance performances burst into view, followed by ceremonial fire walkers, fire eaters, singers, musicians and a myriad of acrobatics and jugglers engulfing the streets in a wave of colour and wonderment.
A night’s stay at Kataragama provide the opportunity of enjoying the sight of the puja (ritual offerings) in a leisurely manner, you may also imbibe some of the town’s backwater charm & laid-back rural pace. The town is separated by the River Menik Ganga with Sacred Precinct to the north, an area of beautiful parkland overrun by grey langurs.