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This most holy of towns is a compelling mix of pomp and procession, piety and religious extravagance. Along with Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada), Kataragama is the most important pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka; a holy place for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Veddah people.

It is one of those wonderful destinations where the most outlandish of legends becomes solid fact and magic floats in clouds of incense. Many believe that King Dutugemunu built a shrine to Kataragama Deviyo (the resident god) here in the 2nd century BC, but the site is thought to have been significant for even longer.

In July and August, the Kataragama Festival draws thousands of pilgrims. Apart from festival time, the town is busiest at weekends and on poya (full moon) days. It's easily visited from Tissa.

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