Kataragama enchants visitors with its swirling incense, gilded shrines and one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country. The town has been welcoming religious pilgrims since the 15th century and is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, Veddahs and Muslims. Combine your trip to Kataragama with a safari in Yala National Park to see elephants, leopards and other Sri Lankan wildlife.
Things to do in Kataragama
One of the most sacred shrines in Sri Lanka, Maha Devale welcomes visitors with a canary yellow façade flanked by two enormous boulders. Step inside to watch locals make colourful offerings and see the lance of Murugan, a powerful Hindu war god.
Muslim pilgrims make a beeline for Ul-Khizr Mosque. The mosque houses the tombs of two holy pilgrims and is beautifully decorated with intricate tiles and wood carvings. Find out more about the town’s ancient past at the Kataragama Museum. Inside you can discover an impressive collection of Buddhist and Hindu relics, as well as replicas of iconic religious statues from across Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is known for its incredible local cuisine and Kataragama is no exception. After touring the shrines and temples, head to one of the local restaurants for delicious curries, rice and roti. Wash down your meal with a refreshing glass of coconut water.
Kataragama is a stone’s throw from Yala National Park, one of the top safari destinations in Asia. Climb into a Jeep and keep your eyes peeled for elephants, crocodiles, sloth bears and of course, elusive leopards.
Getting around Kataragama
Kataragama is compact and easy to get around on foot, with all religious sites within walking distance of the town centre. Most visitors arrive by private car or minibus and Colombo International Airport is a four-hour drive away.