The town is separated by the Menik Ganga (“Gem River”) from the so-called Sacred Precinct to the north, an area of sylvan parkland overrun by inquisitive grey langurs and dotted with myriad shrines; pilgrims take a ritual bath in the river before entering the precinct itself. The first buildings you’ll encounter are the ul-Khizr mosque and the adjacent Shiva Kovil – the former houses the tombs of saints from Kyrgyzstan and India and is the main focus of Muslim devotions in Kataragama.

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