BY - professor, SENARATH PARANAVITHANA
(EPIGRAPHIA ZEYLANICA, V0L-III. , PAGE 212.)
KATARAGAMA  is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in
In the first half of the eleventh century, Kataragama was, for a short period , of some moment in the affairs of the island. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese leaders of the time against the irresistible tide of Coḷa imperialism; and from there stared that movement which, after varying fortunes, resulted in the liberation of the island from the Coḷa yoke. Kataragama was, the scene of several hotly contested battles between the Sinhalese generals and the invading Coḷas on the one hand; and one of the other, of Kassapa the Kesadhātunāyaka against Kitti, the rising young hero who afterwards restored the sovereignty of the Sinhalese and ascended the throne of Poḷonnaruva as Vijayabāhu I. During these campaigns, the town was sacked by the invaders; and owing to this reason, as well as to the extension of Vijayabāhu’s activities to a wider sphere, the place seems to have sunk into comparative insignificance for it never again figures in the history of the island 
The shrine of the Kataragama god (see plate 20) which attracts such a large number of votaries annually from all parts of the island as well as from India, is a structure of modern origin ; and has no pretensions whatever to architectural beauty. It stands in the centre of a spacious enclosure within which there are also an old Bo-tree supposed to be identical with the one planted during the reign of Devānampiya Tissa, a Buddhist image house of modern style and several minor shrines dedicated to the worship of Skanda’s wives and brother. An inscribed pillar (A.S.I. 490), of which more will be said in the sequel, stands in front of image house. A number of ancient stones are lying about the place; but these have all been brought here, a few years ago, from the grounds of the kirivehera.
The dāgäba known as Kirivehera (see plate 21) about half a mile to the north of the devāle , is traditionally said to have been founded by Mahānāga (circa third century B.C). On some of the bricks fallen down from the dome, there are Brāhmi letters of about the first century B.C., inscribed as masons marks. And, as will be seen later, one of the inscriptions at the place records its enlargement in the first or second century A.D. Therefore, this stūpa may well be ascribed to a very early date, though we may not accept the tradition in its entirety. The monument itself is about the size of the Mirisaväṭiya dāgäba in
 Mahāvamsa, ch. xix, v. 54.
 Ibid., v. 62.
see Mahāvamsa , ch. xiv, v. 45.
 Mahāvamsa , ch. lvii, vv .2, 67, 68, 70, 74, ch.lvii, v. 5.
 According to the tradition, a shrine of Skanda was built at Kataragama by Duṭṭagāmaṇi in the first century B.C. in fulfillment of a vow made by him to that deity when he started on his memorable campaign against the Tamil usurper Elāḷa who was ruling at