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Kataragama

Kataragama , South Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Kataragama
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Overview

A sacred site to both the Hindu’s and Buddhists is the sacred site of Kataragama. One of the best times to visit is during the Kataragama festival. Visitors can respect and observe the rituals that are associated with the devotion to Lord Skanda. Close to Kataragama lies the wildlife sanctuary Yala National Park.

History states that King Dutugamunu constructed the original shrine after the battle against Elara after he believed that Lord Kataragama helped his forced cross the Menik Gange which is still exists today. Take a pilgrimage bath in the Menik Ganga before crossing over to the main shrine. The first building is dedicated to the Muslims has it has the tombs of Muslim saints from India and Kyrgyzstan. In the main shrine it is believed to contain the spear of a 12-armed warrior deity. A must see is the archaeological museum situated in the shrine features Buddha statues, moonstones, ancient inscriptions and other religious artifacts. The Kirivehera dates back from 1BC and the temple elephant and a large statue of King Dutugamunu is seen here. Located just 5km away is Sella Kataragama which is where according to legend it is believed that Lord Kataragama met his consort. Also close to Kataragama is the national park Yala where many of Sri Lanka’s finest wild life such as elephants, leopards and many birds can be seen in their natural habitat.  There is a historical legend that Lord Kataragama took abode on top of a mountain called Vedihitikanda just 5km from the main town. It is very difficult to climb to the top is challenging and an experience. If you visit Kataragama during the months June – August you may get a chance to see the festival. It is colorful with the kavadi dancers and other feats and daunting with the things that devotees do to show their respect such as walking on hot coals and piercing their skin with hooks.

Kataragama is a holy site to both Buddhists and Hindu’s and therefore all there is nothing much to do around the area. There is no night life and the place is very rural with shops selling just the basic provisions. It a religious town so therefore the area is very quiet.

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