Kataragama a popular pilgrimage destination frequented by adherents of all religions in Sri Lanka. The main shrine devoted to Skanda popularly described in eulogies as God having six faces and twelve arms whose assistance is sought for worldly gain.
The history of the shrine dates back to 2 century BC. The annual procession held in July or August is the main event of the shrine with fire walkers and Kawadi dancers. Offering to the god are made at 4.30am 10.30am and 6.30pm daily.
God Kataragama Maha Devale
Inside are three main shrines. Directly opposite the entrance gate is the principal shrine, that of God Kataragama, a simple quadrangular white colour building with carved wooden doors & walls decorated with pink lotuses, green Bo leaves & Elephants. The shrine is believed to contain the spear of the multi-visaged, 12-armed warrior deity.
The other two shrines are dedicated to God Vishnu, one of the supreme Hindu deities, & the elephant-headed God Ganesha, the god of prosperity & wisdom. To the side of three shrines stand two fine Bo trees, the larger surrounded by golden rails & an elephant wall.
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 a small town with clean, tree lined roads with rows of stalls selling garlands & platters of fruit-coconut, mango watermelon. Kataragama has a network of hotels, guest houses as well as free pilgrim rests.