The Kataragama temple is one of the ancient sites which are revered by Hindus, Buddhists as well as the Veddas. The temple also attracts many people from South India. The temple complex is a shrine to the Buddhist guardian deity Kataragama ‘deviyo’ and Hindu War God Murugan. The complex contains the Buddhist temples which are managed by Buddhists, the temples and shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva the Hindus maintain and a mosque which the Muslims govern. This unique feature of Kataragama temples makes the complex, one of the most secular sites in Sri Lanka. Many years ago, the jungle shrine was entirely inaccessible, but today it can be easily accessed by an all-weather road.
Kataragama was initially a small town which was a small village nestled between the jungle in the ancient and the medieval period, which slowly transformed into a small town which has attracted many pilgrims becoming a popular pilgrimage site. The legends and myths of the place are changing with the different deities influenced by religion, ethnicity, race and time. Also, as there is a change in devotees, the mode of worship has changed from Hindu orientation to the Buddhist style. Today the entire complex is declared as a holy site by the Sri Lankan government in the 1950s, for which many political leaders have contributed for its maintenance and upkeep.