Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Colombo

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A popular saying among all Sri Lankans “The sins of a lifetime are nullified, once the Kelaniya temple is worshiped” explains how sacred the Kelaniya temple is among Buddhists. The temple is one of the oldest in Sri Lanka, with a history of 2,500 years, and it is believed that Lord Buddha with 500 Arahaths visited Kelaniya temple during the third and last visit to Sri Lanka, which is eight years after gaining enlightenment.

According to the Mahawansa (Great Chronicle, epic poem written in Pali Language in 5th Century) the original stupa (pagoda) at the temple enshrined a throne with gems engraved on which the Buddha sat and preached. 

During the Kotte era the temple flourished however a lot of its land was seized during the Portuguese era, there were new gifts of land donated to the temple during the Dutch era under the patronage of King Kirthi Sri Rajashinha, and the temple was rebuilt. 

The temple is known for the paintings done by a local artist Solias Mendis which depict important events in the life of Lord Buddha, Buddhist history in Sri Lanka, and incidents from Jataka Tales. There is an 18-foot stone statue of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva which is significant in the temple. 

It is recommended to be prepared to spare at least 2 hours at this attraction to visit all the places within the temple. 

Important things to note:

  1. No video and camera permitted at the sight 
  2. Tips and portages are not included
  3. Wear Vatican dress code
  4. The temple opens at 9:00 am
  5. Advisable to visit before sun set