Kataragama is an ancient and holy town with deep histories tied to Hinduism and Buddhism. It’s an important pilgrimage site for Buddists, Hindus, Muslims, and the indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. The Kataragama Pada Yatra, their annual pilgrimate, takes place every July and August and draws many onlookers as its traditions go back to ancient times.

History and myth in Kataragama are tightly intertwined as it’s believed that their deity Kataragama deviyo lived at the top of a mountain just outside the town. Kataragama temple is dedicated to him as he is revered as a powerful deity that can help devotees overcome difficulties during times of duress. Sri Lankans consider Kataragama as one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the country, along with Adam’s Peak.

Kataragama is 19km from Tissa, 46km from Hambantota, and 88km from Tangalle. You can easily do day trips there from either city, or opt to spend the night in Kataragama itself.