Situated in the Monaragala District of Uva province in Sri Lanka, Kataragama is a prominent town of pilgrimage sacred to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and indigenous Vedda tribes of Sri Lanka. It holds the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama devalaya shrine dedicated to Kataragama deviyo (Kataragama god) also known as Skanda Murugan. It used to be a small village in mediaeval times, but has turned into a fast-developing township( although surrounded by jungle) in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. The ancient and famous Kiri Vehera Buddhastupa is visited by all pilgrims. This town has a mythic as well as a recorded history dating back to the last centuries BC.
It is widely believed with scientific evidence that Kataragama had a human habitation alongside evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic habitations at least 125,000 years ago. There are Buddhist and Hindu legends that attribute supernatural events to the locality. The historic and famous Manik Ganga (River of the Gems) runs through Kataragama and is considered as containing holy water that cleanses pilgrims of their sin when they bathe in it before visiting the areas of worship.