There are many puja stalls outside of the temple complex, it looks like any market place, but locals are selling the traditional marigolds, fruit, incense and a number of other religious items for tourists and locals to take into the temples.
The reason we stayed in Kataragama in the first place was purely to visit the evening Puja at the temples.
Kataragama is along with Kandy one of the most holiest places in Sri Lanka, and the temple complex in Kataragama is unique because there is a Hindu and a Buddhist temple in the same grounds, along with a Mosque! All of these people pray together in the same complex - outstanding!
On the way in we walked through gardens and past the river, where locals were cleansing in the holy waters. As we came closer to the main temple there were some smaller temples to see.
We were two of four foreigners at the puja, the entrance was free (you can however leave a donation in the office), and we were welcomed to watch the puja.
This was such a colourful experience, the smell of incense, the music, the elephants and the people - it was one amazing place to visit.
We watched people queuing to make their offerings in the temples, people were traditionally smashing coconuts, one lady was rolling around the floor of the temple complex in a ritual.
It was outstanding and I highly reccommend a visit to Kataragama.
The puja happens everyday, check what time when you get to Kataragama, when we were there we headed to the temples at 7pm.
Kataragama town centre is quite small, but enjoyed strolling around. We had many smiles and waves from local people, looked at some small temples along the main drag, and bought some refreshments in the small shops.