Sri Lanka Beach.jpg Logo Srilanka
Back to Listing

Kataragama

Kataragama is the most mystical of temple towns in Sri Lanka, and for over 2,000 years it has been a hugely significant centre of worship for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians alike. What fascinates at Kataragama is not just the architecture, this holy town is one of those wonderful destinations where legends swirl in magical clouds of incense, and the hypnotic rhythm of pilgrim life intermingles with the colourful, elaborate religious ceremonies and daily rituals. The series of temples and dagobas are linked by manicured paths where holy animals wander freely.

Maha Devale (also known as the Katirkamam Temple) is Kataragama’s most important shrine. This Hindu temple is dedicated to the six-faced, 12-armed Hindu war god, Murugan (also known as Skanda). Followers make offerings at daily puja, and outside the shrine are two large boulders, against which pilgrims smash burning coconuts while muttering their prayers. There are some devotees called bhaktars, who pierce their cheeks and tongues, to represent the divine javelin associated with Lord Murugan, and in extreme cases, pull large chariots carrying representations of Murugan with hooks pierced through the skin of their backs. This practice is known as kavadi and can be seen in the images here. The meandering and sacred River of Gems, or Manika River, runs through the heart of Kataragama, and is seen as a place of ablution. As legend has it the river is thought to have high medicinal properties, and one can be absolved of all impurities, and healed of all ailments, just by bathing in the river. Next to the river is a Hindu temple dedicated to the beloved elephant-faced God Ganesh, and this is the first structure you encounter as you enter the holy complex.

The second site you see as you pass through the holy compound is the Khizr Takya Mosque. This beautiful mosque features intricate coloured tile work and wooden lintels, and the tombs of two holy men who originated from Central Asia and India. According to ancient Islamic creed, Muslims come here to worship on the belief that Moses taught here. Buddhist pilgrims make for the huge, gleaming white dagoba of the Kiri Vehera Temple, an impressive 29 metre structure, located in the northern part of the sacred compound. It's thought to have been built during the reign of King Mahasena (AD 276–303) who also constructed the Jetavanarama Dagoba in Anuradhapura.

Every year the Kataragama Festival draws tens of thousands of devotees and pilgrims, who walk the pilgrimage, called Pada Yatra, from Jaffna to the Hindu Temple of Kataragama. This traditional procession of village devotees starts in May and takes two months to complete – it is a sight to see! Apart from festival time, Kataragama is busiest at weekends and on poya (full moon) days.

Kataragama, Sri Lanka (1).jpg Kataragama, Sri Lanka (1).jpg
Kataragama, Sri Lanka (4).jpg Kataragama, Sri Lanka (4).jpg
Kataragama, Sri Lanka (5).jpg Kataragama, Sri Lanka (5).jpg
Kataragama, Sri Lanka (3).jpg Kataragama, Sri Lanka (3).jpg
Kataragama, Sri Lanka (2).jpg Kataragama, Sri Lanka (2).jpg
The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling

Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka

From our Instagram

Wander through the bustling fruit and vegetable markets in #Pondicherry to experience the true essence of #TamilNadu 🇮🇳🥬🍎
.
Follow our stories for live updates!
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
A luxury holiday to #Goa feeds the soul and the senses 🇮🇳🌅
.
Discover a kaleidoscope of baroque architecture, whitewashed churches, crumbling forts, tropical beaches, intoxicating spices and the warmth of #SouthIndia ⛪️☀️🌶
.
#AmpersandTravel 
#LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Perched up high in the Himalayan Kingdom, the new #SixSenses lodges sit in prime positions in #Bhutan
.
Our favourites are the sleek properties in #Paro and #Thimphu, for these offer phenomenal sweeping views over the pristine valleys below to the mountains beyond, which sit perfectly at eye-level
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Spot mighty lions in #SouthAfrica’s game reserves with the help of our expert guides 🐾 🇿🇦
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience #KrugerNationalPark #SabiSands #Madikwe
.
(📸 @chris_fischer_photography)
✨Please vote for us!✨
*Link in Bio*
.
For the top Tour Operators & Specialists in the  #CondéNastTraveler #ReadersChoiceAwards #2019
.
Only 5 Days left!
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
#Milaidhoo is magic at all hours - be it in broad daylight, at sunset or under a starry sky - as our General Manager @emilyjanegillman witnessed last week!🏝
.
The ultimate beach destination, the #Maldives can easily top or tail a tailor-made Ampersand tour & makes for a perfect honeymoon 🇲🇻
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Sunsets at the @gallefacehotel are the best welcome to #Colombo, especially when watching their flag ceremony from the iconic checkerboard terrace with a G&T in hand 🌅
.
We also love the wonderful @maniumpathy_boutique_hotel, which is truly an oasis of tranquility within this city 🌿
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
‘Led by Buddhist monks, a butter lamp ceremony offers a guiding light to finding peace and harmony’ @sixsensesbhutan 🕯🕯🕯
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
The exhilarating city of #Tokyo has a world-renowned culinary scene & rightfully so! 🇯🇵
.
Be tempted to join ‘salarymen’ for an evening drink and #yakitori in restaurants and bar likes this 🏮🏮
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences