Kataragama is one of the few places in Sri Lanka which is worshipped by most of the popular religious people in Sri Lanka. According to the Buddhists, Katragama is one of the 16 places visited by Buddha (solos maha stana) during his 3 visits to Sri Lanksa.

The most popluar pilgrimage destination situated at the Menik Ganga (Gem River) unites Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. The history of Kataragama dates back to the 3 rd century BC when the Kshatryas, the warrior caste was dwelling there. Even King Dutthagamani came to worship the warrior god of the Hindus, named Skanda, who is also called Kataragama and now resides in the surprisingly unadorned Maha Devale in which you can join the daily Puja ceremonies at 5 am, 11 am and 7:30 pm.

Just before full moon in July (called Esala full moon) you can witness the rural Perahera of Kataragama, when at the same time Kandy is bursting with tourists wanting to see the spectacular Perahera there. Meanwhile you can experience the unique atmosphere in Kataragama.

Other attractions to see in Kataragama are the Kiri Vehera, which is a Buddhist temple, shrines of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Ganesha and the mosque Masjid-ul-Khizr.

Katragama Esala Maha Perahera is one of the main events of the Kataragama Calender. This ritualistic possession is held on the Esala Full moon Poya Day which falls on July – August. This Perahera is unique in the way it is held and the possession itself. One interesting fact is that the Perahera festival officially begins by the flag hoisting ceremony at the Islamic mosque in Kataragama. The festival is coloured by fire walking ceremonies, Kavadi Dances and self mutilating sacrifices by devotees. These devotees perform certain penances by piercing their tongues, cheeks and others attaching iron hooks to their backs and pulling heavy loads.

Although Kataragama Pilgrimage season reaches its peak on this annual perahera, it is a place where people go any time of the year.