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Kataragama

One of the most revered pilgrimage towns of Sri Lanka; Kataragama is where Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Veddah come for spiritual solace. Known for its natural beauty, the place is full of shrines and stupas that belong to the 1st Century BC.

During the medieval period, Kataragama used to be a small village in the middle of a jungle.  It then became a popular pilgrimage and hence developed into a small town. Comes July and August, this town gets adorned for the Kataragama Festival. This is when it receives devotees from the nearby states and even abroad in thousands. The event has fire walking, elephant parade and an array of local traditions and rituals. Though not much in a limelight; the small town gives a great feeling of peace and serenity. 

Attractions

Kataragama Shrine
A holy shrine and also a popular pilgrim center, the shrine is visited amass by both for Buddhists and Hindus. It is counted among one of the 16 major Buddhist pilgrimage. Dedicated to Lord Katirkaman, this place is visited by Tamil Hindus residing in Sri Lanka as well as Southern India.  

Kiri Vehera
Built by King Mahasena, the Buddhist Kiri Vehera Dagoba is revered by the Sinhala Buddhists. They believe that this is the place where Kataragama was enlightened by Lord Buddha. The Dagoba here marks the place where the king used to listen to Lord Buddha’s preaching.

Manik Ganga (River of Gems)
Quite similar to the Ganges in India, Manik Ganga is believed to purify a believer who takes a dip here. Residents of that place also believe that the waters of this river have healing properties and jungle surrounding it has many medicinal plants.  

Festivals

Kataragama Festival (July/ August)
Celebrated with huge pomp and show, this festival, attract devotees who walk till the temple barefoot and make offerings. The temple elephant enters from the north gate and worships the three holy shrines by making an offering of lotus flower. The festival comprises of events like fire-walking, elephant parade alongwith drummers. This festival is a great time to get acquainted to the local traditions and rituals.

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