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Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is a well-known Buddhist temple built in the 5th century. It is commonly believed to have been visited by the Buddha on his third visit to the country along with 500 monks after the enlightenment of 8 years, back in 500 BCE. The temple holds the heritage designation of an Archaeological Protected Monument in Sri Lanka ever since 2007 and therefore holds great historical importance not only to Buddhists but also for all Sri Lankans. It covers an area of almost 10 acres and is visited by millions of people every year, especially during the Duruthu Maha Perehera which is held at the temple’s hollow Dagoba every year in January. A large number of people also pilgrimage on Poya day, that is, full moon day of the month and conduct several religious programs here. The temple, as you would expect, is grand and magnificent. Its stupa is believed to have enshrined a throne studded with gems, on which Buddha sat and preached. It houses many paintings and sculptures, depicting various events from the life of Lord Buddha and also the Jataka tales.
The temple has four significant sections the Golden Buddha Image House, King’s Image House, The New Temple House and The Reclined Buddha Image House. There are gold studded chairs and carpets inside the stupa which gives an essence of its grandeur. The main attraction is the astounding 90 feet stupa.
The famous image of the reclining Gautama Buddha, the vast shrine room and the dagoba are the items which cannot be missed. There are several beautiful wall paintings in the image house by a native artist Solias Mendis about Buddha and his life events. Red, yellow and black colours are prominently used for the arts. The upper sacred terrace contains the stupa, image shrine, Bodhi tree, bell tower and few other buildings.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.
Many devotees do Parikrama, that is, circling of the Bodhi tree with water pots and pour water on it to pray for their wishes to be fulfilled.
You can take a boat ride on the serene Kelaniya river.
You can meditate in the Dagoba or under the Bodhi tree.
Allow yourself at least an hour for the temple’s tour.
It can be crowded in the midday so you may reach there early in the morning or in the evening.
Do not wear shoes to the temple and wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees.
It is highly advised to meditate for some time in the quiet temple premises as it will give you an unforgettable spiritual experience.