Considered as an epitome among Sri Lankan worship places, the Kelaniya Temple, also known as the Kelaniya Viharaya, is a Buddhist temple located in the Kelaniya region. The history of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya dates back to before 500 BCE, and is believed to be a place where the Lord Buddha visited during his third and final visit to Sri Lanka. It is believed that Lord Buddha sat and preached on gem-studded throne at the original stupa, eight years after gaining enlightenment.
The temple is home to an 18-foot stone statue considered as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The main perahera, or procession, of the temple is held in the month of January each year, in line with the Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day. Thus, the event is popularly known as the Duruthu Maha Perahera.
Things to See at Kelaniya Temple
- Bo Tree and Courtyard
- Kelaniya Temple Murals
- Duruthu Maha Perahera
- Sri Kalyani Dhamma School
- Kalyani Institute of Buddhist Studies
- Daily, monthly and annual religious services
Traveling to Kelaniya Temple
The Kelaniya Temple is situated in the Kelaniya area, a suburb towards the North of Colombo city. The area could be accessed through the main Kandy A1 road, and it takes less than half an hour when traveling from the capital. Cab services or tuk tuk rides could be easily organized in order to pay a visit to the temple.
Kelaniya Temple: Conclusion
For the enlightened and its seekers, and for the enchanted and its visitors, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is the place to be. A half hour ride from Colombo and you enter a world of its own, complete with the solemnity that comes with any religious shrine, as well as the history to go with Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Do allocate about four hours to thoroughly experience this ancient temple.