Kataragama is home to one of the most important religious sites in Sri Lanka that draws pilgrims from various faiths.
Legends narrate it was built by the medieval King Dutugemunu as a mark of respect to the Kataragama deity, revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. The Devalaya (religious place of worship) sprawls across the Menik River that lies past a labyrinth of stalls selling flowers, incense sticks and other niceties required for worship.
Once the bridge connecting the banks is crossed, you are welcomed with the smell of burning incense, flowers and the sound of bells rung to welcome the God. A shady avenue leads to the majestic Devalaya and further away is the stark white Kiri Vehera (Milk stupa, a mound-like construction bearing Buddhist relics) gleaming away in the sun, gracefully rising over the site.
Marvel at the sights of the annual Kataragama festival held during July – August.