Kataragama is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. People from South India also come there to worship. The town has the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama devalaya, a shrine dedicated to Skanda-Murukan also known as Kataragamadevio. Kataragama is in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka. It is 228 km ESE of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Although Kataragama was a small village in medieval times, today it is a fast-developing township surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. It houses the ancient Kiri Vehera Buddhist stupa. The town has a venerable history dating back to the last centuries BCE. It was the seat of government of many Sinhalese kings during the days of Rohana kingdom. Since the 1950s the city has undergone many improvements with successive governments investing in public transportation, medical facilities, and business development and hotel services. It adjoins the popular Yala National Park.
Beyond the Maha Devale is a meeting hall on the north side of the square. From the east gate, a Tulip tree avenue leads 500m past further lines of stalls selling lotus flowers to the Kiri Vehera dating from 1 BC.It is a milk white large stupa with a well maintained peaceful courtyard. The temple elephant is often seen shackled to the trees here, being fed a copious diet of palm leaves. Its only unusual feature being the two sets of square walls which enclose it. A modern statue of King Dutugamunu stands behind the dagoba.
Inside are three main shrines. Directly opposite the entrance gate is the principal shrine, that of God Kataragama, a simple quadrangular white building with carved wooden doors & walls decorated with pink lotuses, green Bo leaves & Elephants. The shrine is believed to contain the spear of the multi-visaged, 12-armed warrior deity.
The other two shrines are dedicated to God Vishnu, one of the supreme Hindu deities, & the elephant-headed God Ganesha, the god of prosperity & wisdom. To the side of three shrines stand two fine Bo trees, the larger surrounded by golden rails & an elephant wall.