Welcome to Kataragama, Sri Lanka
Kataragama is a pilgrimage town located in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka. It is a multi-religious sacred town and one of the famous places to be visited in Sri Lanka. The Kataragama temple situates in the Kataragama town and it is a shrine dedicated to Skanda Kumara (Kataragama deviyo).
It is situated 228 km away from Colombo, Sri Lanka. In medieval times, Kataragama was a small village. But today, it is a fast-developing town surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. Since 1950, the Kataragama has developed with infrastructure facilities.
You can see that all the shrines are small rectangular buildings. Except for shrines dedicated to Valli, almost all shrines built using stone. Those are original buildings. There are not any plans to improve them.
The Kataragama town has a venerable history back to the last centuries BCE. It was the seat of government of many Sinhalese kings. According to evidence, this town was named Kajaragama and Karthikeya Grama. Then, it converted to Kataragama. According to the Sinhala literal, the meaning of Kataragama is the village in the desert.
Kataragama Devalaya (Mahadevalaya)
All you know that many people show great reverence to Kataragama God. Every year, most of the people visit there to beg blessings to overcome their problems. They believe that Kataragama deviyo (Kataragama God) exists. Kataragama Devalaya (Mahadevalaya) is the largest and the first place that all pilgrims come to visit during their Kataragama pilgrim.
Although there is no representation of the deity, you can see a statue of Shiva kept in an adjoining room. Also, there is a clay armchair.
According to the legend, King Dutugemunu has built Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya in fulfilling a vow to defeat the Dravidian King Elara. At Kataragama temple, you can worship one of the eight saplings of Sri Maha Bodhiya (Ashta Phala Ruhu Bodhi) in Anuradapura, Sri Lanka.
You can see the too small rectangular building without any decoration on the left side of the main shrine. That shrine has dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesha (Ganapatidevio). The Vishnu Devale (the shrine dedicated to Vishnu) stands to the left of the Ganesha shrine. In here, there is also a Buddha image. To the west of the shrine complex, you can walk to the shrines dedicated to Kali, Pattini, Managara deviyo, Dedimunda, and Suniyam.
Also, you can see the shrine to Teyvanai, outside the temple yard, and beyond the northern gate. The Sankara Mutt from Sringeri in Karnataka (India) has managed the Teyvanai shrine. The shrine dedicated to Valli is in front of the mosque. The Kadamba tree dedicates to Murugan nearby the Valli shrine. Also, there are several tombs of holy men within the mosque.
You can see that the Kataragama Devalaya and its surrounding area are always busy. Every day, a large number of people visit there to worship. There are three main poojas of the day at Kataragama Devalaya. Do not forget to carry coconuts and baskets of fruits when you go to Kataragama Devalaya. At the shrine room in Kataragama, a priest chants prayer interceding for the believers and their pleas. You can visit there and, can take blesses.
Scared Places near Kataragama Devalaya
During the Kataragama tour, you can visit the Sella Kataragama shrine locates 2.5 miles from Kataragama devalaya. It has dedicated to the beloved elephant-faced God Ganesha. It is on the Menik Ganga banks. The deity of Kataragama or Skanda Kumaraya is worshipped here by a large number of pilgrims.
You can see monuments, Valli’s Cave, Ganesh shrine, various Kovils at Sella Kataragama. We highly recommend you to Sella Kataragama to add to the religious tour directory.
Kiri Vehera Stupa
The ancient Kiri Vehera believes to be built by King Mahasena in the 6th century. It is one of the major attractions close to the Kataragama Temple. It situates approximately 0.4 miles from Kataragama Temple.
You can bathe at Manik Ganga (River of Gems). It is a place where a sacred bath takes to purify oneself. The people who live in Kataragama believe there is an ability to cure illnesses when they bath at Manik Ganga.
The Wedahiti Kanda
During the Kataragama tour, you can climb Wedahiti Kanda called the hill of the indigenous Vedda people. According to Sri Lankan legend, Kataragama deviyo has initially resided on the top of this mountain.
How to go to Kataragama
Kataragama is situated 228 km away from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Although you live in any province, the Kataragama journey takes you into the beautiful Uva Province. Kataragama situates at the edge of Yala National Park. The roads with shady trees provide pleasant to pilgrims.
Thousands of people visit Kataragama by vehicles. We went there, in our van. But, even today, hundreds of dedicated pilgrims visit Kataragama on foot without harming the ancient practice. Also, you can go there by train.
You will experience the wonderful feeling while you drive along the Buttala-Sella Kataragama Road. When you transition from wetland to dry zone evergreens, you will see the road like a continuous grey ribbon. The jungle on either side of the road will create a pleasurable experience for you.
Sightings of elephants are a common sight when you drive along this road. While you go through the Buttala – Sella Kataragama Road, you have an opportunity to feed elephants by providing fruits. Most of the visitors buy fruits like bananas from the little stalls anticipating an encounter with an elephant. Sometimes the elephants cause to create road traffic. Also, you can see that some elephants freely walk along the road, ignoring the vehicles.
Top Attractions closed to Kataragama
If you are a nature lover, you never miss Tissa Wewa near Kataragama in Sri Lanka. It is in Tissamaharama and locates 9.4 miles away from Kataragama Temple. The reservoir is a great place to become too close to nature. King Devanampiya Tissa has built Tissa Wewa to supply water to nearby areas in the 3rd century. You can see that several rare birds at this place while you spend time there.
If you are a nature lover, you can hardly miss the Yala Safari to spend time in and around the Yala National Park. You can obtain a luxurious safari with safari jeeps and well-informed guides. It will be an enjoyable experience for you with wildlife. Also, there are so many safari services there. You can select safari services as you wish. It will be a lifetime experience on a jungle tour in Sri Lanka.
Your safari tour will be the best adventurous trip with the leopards, elephants, wild boar, sloth bear, spotted deer, mongoose, monitor, wild buffalo, sambar deer, jackal. The Yala National Park is the world’s only park, which has the highest leopards’ density. So, make sure to enjoy touring under expert guidance.
Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara
Tissamaharama Raja Maha Viharaya is one of the most famous places to visit in Kataragama, situates 2.8 miles from Kataragama devalaya. As a visitor, you can’t ignore a visit to the ancient Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara in Tissamaharama. It is one of the four ancient Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka.
According to history, this place has built after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera. Thus, the Lord Buddha himself blessed the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara site during his 3rd visit to Sri Lanka.
Tissa Dagaba is approximately 10 miles from Kataragama devalaya.
Sithulpawwa Rock Temple
The Sithulpawwa Rock Temple is in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka. This ancient Buddhist monastery is always full of pilgrims. It is one of the best places to visit in Kataragama, Sri Lanka. This temple situates at a distance of 18 km from Katharagama devalaya. So, you can easily access it. King Kavantissa had built this rock temple on the hills. You can explore the paintings depicting the Anuradhapura era at Sithulpawwa Rock Temple.
Ranminithenna Tele Cinema Village
During your Kataragama journey, you can visit Ranminithenna Tele Cinema Village in Tissamaharama. It is 6.2 miles from Kataragama devalaya.
Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park in Tanamalwila and 9.7 miles from Kataragama devalaya. You can easily reach this park through the roadways in Sri Lanka. Every day, a large number of tourists visit here. Lunugamvehera National Park is a great location to explore flora and fauna. You can see Eucalyptus, Pallu, Weera, Teak, and the dense evergreen forestry. This sanctuary is home to many wildlife species like wildlife animals, as well as birds.
Kirinda beach locates in between the Yala and Kumana national parks. It is a starting point for wildlife safaris and beach holidays in the Kataragama journey. You can easily find the hotels and guesthouses in Kirinda.
The Kirinda Temple is an ancient temple that attracts thousands of visitors. It has dedicated to Queen Viharamahadevi Sri Lanka. You can see the long stretch of dunes and the ocean beyond when you visit the Kirinda temple. Also, you will see a modern statue of queen Viharamahadevi.
As pilgrims, you can make your offerings at the dagoba to get blessings. At the Kirinda temple, be sure to look out for King Kavantissa’s royal coat of arms, featuring the sun and the moon and carved on a boulder, etc.
Great Basses Reef Lighthouse
When you visit Kirinda, you can see another attraction called the Great Basses Reef Lighthouse. You can access there by boat. There are two Basses lighthouses, ‘Great’ and ‘Little. Those are the most famous offshore lighthouses of Asia.
In addition to the above, you can cover the more attractive places close to Kataragama in your journey.
The main festival is Esela Perahera. It is celebrating from July to August. On the festival day, the Yantra take from the saved location. Then, it carries through the street on top of an elephant. It keeps to the Valli shrine. It will take two hours to return. Yantra is left overnight at the Valli shrine. Then, it brings back to the main shrine on the last day of the festival.
You can see that the priests conduct the rituals in silence. They are covering their mouths with a white cloth. Kataragama devalaya and the surrounding area look like a carnival during the annual festival. People get together with Hindus. They do the rituals associated with Hindus. Hundreds of devotees participate in fire walking. Others participate in ecstatic dance forms called Kavadi and body piercing and hook swinging.
Ideal Time to Visit Kataragama
March through May
This season makes me feel warm because of the combination of humidity and temperatures. Also, the temperature range will be 90.6°F (32.6°C) and 88.4°F (31.3°C). The rain is with 3 to 6 days per month.
June through August
These months will be very comfortable months but quite warm. The least precipitation is with 3 to 5 days per month. The Kataragama Perahera holds during July and August. So, you can easily participate in the Kataragama Perahera.
September through November
The temperature range will be 88.4°F (31.3°C) and 87.3°F (30.7°C). The rain is with 7 to 10 days per month. The tourist attraction is high. So, Kataragama hotels may be slightly higher priced.
December through February
You can enjoy warm weather conditions in Kataragama during these months. The average temperature during this season is between 90.5°F (32.5°C) and 86°F (30°C). It rains 3 to 9 times per month. This time is the busiest time at Kataragama.
However, the most suitable time to visit Kataragama Temple is between 6:00 PM-7:00 PM. We highly recommend visiting.
Accommodations in Kataragama
As a group of visitors, there are four people included in our team. We had a chance to book the best hotel close to Kataragama for one night. We paid around Rs.12 000.00 for our booking with meals. We used the swimming pool also.
There are some hotels and accommodation available for guests. You can easily find accommodations close to Kataragama. If you prefer to find a hotel close to Kataragama, you can use booking websites to find the Kataragama hotels as you wish.