In a far off town in Sri Lanka lies the holiest of places of reverence the Katharagama town. Worshipped by one and all Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, this is a place of sacred sanctity where people of all walks of life congregate not just for religious purposes, but also to evoke blessings and make vows to the deities.
Located in the hot and humid district of Monaragala, it is about 230 kilometers away from the city of Colombo. It is considered to be one of the most venerated and worshiped places in the island. People as far as neighboring India also make the journey to this revered site of worship.
The temple as it is called and known as the Kataragama Temple, is located here. Among these precincts is also a Muslim mosque, and in close proximity a Buddhist temple namely the Kiri Vehera. Both the Buddhist temple and the Hindu Kovil have long been associated with Buddhism in long ago times in this country.
This part of the country was a very small town during earliest times, with no proper roads, or other facilities. Now through, the years of coming and going of new governments and its authority, there are modern and accessible roadways, medical facilities, good hotels, rest houses, plenty of shops and food outlets for the tired pilgrim’s rest. It is now a very hustling town, very active and popular with vastly populated government business offices, good transport like buses and trains, and vehicles which makes it very easy travel to the city of Katharagama. The ever favorite and popular wildlife sanctuary, the Yala National Park is also located close by which is a double bonus for those who want to visit and spend a few more days at both the holy temple and see the wildlife. The region is a very scorching and humid place during the very hot season, and it gets a very rare rainfall.
In olden days, this part was of forests lands, and used for cultivation of paddy harvesting and other vegetations. It is made famous because of the God Skanda to whom people believe in and have faith and beliefs, in this God because of his powerful and good fortune that he brings to the country and its people especially in making vows come true for individuals both in sickness and good fortune.
Lots of people visit the “devale” to make vows for their future happiness, business, etc. they believe that these gods bring good fortune, and good luck in their day to day, ventures and future endeavors etc.
A very long time ago, crops and paddy harvesting was done here. Reservoirs were built for irrigation of water for harvesting of cultivation and other. It is also the home of the Gods, of Kathragama. Even the Veddah, clan come to worship these gods, also known as the indigenous people. Today these indigenous people still visit the kovil and venerate these gods, not just for religious purposes but to also take part in the temple’s festivals, rituals and parades.
Nowadays you see many government schools. Education, for children, has improved, since the golden days of inhabitation. The population is still somewhat small but has risen by leaps and bounds to a better standard and better level of living.
Travelling is also much easier and convenient to those who seek spirituality, in these holy sanctums because of the good transport and accessible roadways. Transport made available by bus, train, vehicle, tuk tuk. It is said that many devotees walked to Katharagama by foot, as it was a ritual and holy practice to the gods. Today it is still done by devout worshipers. A very old performance that still holds strong among pilgrims of today.
There is numerous a pilgrims rest throughout the Katharagama town for many a tired devotee. There are also many luxurious hotels for those who seek the comfort and luxury of a good rest in a good hotel, and for those who come from other countries. Very good food and all facilities are available at these hotels. Food is served wholesome, with simple and healthy vegetarian meals in most of the hotels.
A few of these hotels are located within the city itself and they are:
Etc., these hotels are equipped to cater to all your needs, whether you need some swimming to do and good food, and comfort, it is all available here with good reviews for all these hotels. So you can check these out and book online.
This is also a little town or village also within the Katharagama town. The difference is that you have to walk along these roadways and cross the river Menik to get to the other side of the area. Here you get a lot of temples, and devales and gods to be worshipped. There are about 6 deities in these premises, where people flock to worship.
As you walk on this roadway there are many shops on either side of the roadway selling all kinds of food stuff, sweet meats, toys and anything that you want to buy may be even little local trinkets, something to take back, and remember your memorable stay in this historic place of worship. There are also incense and lotus flowers, fruit and fruit baskets, to be taken to the temple for the many temple rituals and poojas that are held here beyond the river Menik. This is a place no one will miss if they are visiting the main Katharagama temple. This is also a must see and must worship place for all devotees.
A place of spirituality and devout worship for the Goddess Vali Amma, who is supposed to be the Goddess and healer of all sicknesses, hence the crowds that throng this prescient, is tremendous.
This is an annual festival held in Katharagama during the months of July or August. It is a procession that parades down the streets of Katharagama when the deities or gods or statues are paraded in all its glory of dancers, musicians, singers elephants, drummers, fire eaters, stilt walkers, jugglers, acrobats, that make this the most colorful parade, when homage to the gods are paid. The town is crowded to capacity with worshippers and tourists alike. The festivals continues for about two weeks, there are also those who walk on fire and hot coals too, those who hang by their skin on sharp nails they are all supposed to be vows to the gods.
The most colorful parade on earth and it also coincides with the Kandy Esela Perehera which is held in Kandy and which is a parade where the Scared Tooth Relic is paraded on the streets of Kandy.