Kataragama is one of most popular & most sacred pilgrimages sites of Sri Lanka. Like Adam's Peak, it attracts Sinhalese Buddhists as well as Hindu Tamils. The adored site is visited by Muslims & Christians too. The main shrine devoted to Skanda popularly described in eulogies as God having six faces and twelve arms whose assistance is sought for worldly gain. The history of the shrine dates back to 2 century BC.
Kataragama is a fast developing township in the deep south of Sri Lanka. But in ancient days it was only a small village. It is one of the 16 principal places of Buddhist Pilgrimage to be visited. According to the great chronicle of Sri Lankan history (Mahawamsa), when the Bo-sapling (Bodhi tree under which Gotama Buddha attained enlightenment in Buddha Gaya in North India 2500 years ago) was brought to Anuradhapura from India 2300 years ago, the warriors from Kataragama were present on the occasion to pay homage and respect. Kataragama is famous for the Hindu Shrine (Devale) and Dagoba (Buddhist Pagoda - Kirivehera). Lord Buddha and his third and the last visit to Sri Lanka were believed to have met the King Mahasena who ruled over the Kataragama area in B.C.580. Kataragama is a multi-religious sacred city as it contains an Islamic Mosque within its Devale complex as well. It holds its annual festival that celebrates the God’s courtship and marriage to a Vedda princess, in July to August.