Sri Lanka is country located in South Asia, about 20 miles from the southern coast of India. The highly educated nation is well known for many natural resources through which they produce coffee, tea, rubber, coconuts, cinnamon and much more. Along with it, the country is also an Island with one of the world’s famous tourist destination sites because of its beautiful forests, beaches, and landscapes, along with its rich cultural heritage. Sri Lanka prides countless spectacular religious venues for Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and many Hindus. Having a deep and rich foot print in the history Hindu and Buddhist religion, the amazing nation has many Buddhist and Hindu temples.
Here is the list of 10 most popular temples in Sri Lanka.
1. Sri Dalada Maligawa – The Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic
Sri Dalada Maligawa or The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic lies in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex and is said to contain a tooth belonging to none other than the Buddha himself. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site partly due to the temple. The temple which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha is one of the holiest shrines in the entire Buddhist world.
2. The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple
The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara temple is located in Viharaya around 7 miles from Colombo. Buddhists believe that the temple was hallowed when Lord Buddha came to Sri Lanka for the third and the final time. A historic poem, Mahawansna, written in Pali which talks about the original stupa that had a gem studded throne on which Buddha sat and preached. The temple is considered to be one of the oldest Buddhist temples dating back to 500 B.C. A historic poem Mahawansna, written in Pali talks about the original stupa that had a gem studded throne on which Buddha sat and preached. Also, the temple has come to worldwide notice since an 18 foot long stone statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has been erected at the temple.
3. Sri Vajiraramaya Temple – Colombo
Vajiraramaya Temple is located on the Vajira Road in Colombo. It certainly is one of the most decorated Buddhist temples in the city. This is the place from where different groups of monks have taken the responsibility of spreading the message of the religion to the western countries and also has been a center of Buddhist learning for a century now. It does not only have grand statues of Buddha or a beautiful architecture, the temple is amazingly built, is grand in its nature and has a deafening silence associated with it. You can still whisper in the temple though. A temple is also a place for hundreds of Buddhist children for learning in the form of a school on the weekends.
4. Dambulla Cave Temple – Golden Temple of Dambulla
The Dambulla Cave temple is also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. It is the largest cave temple complex situated in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. The cave is found under a huge overhanging rock that stands about 160 meters high and towers over its surrounding plains. It is also one of the best-preserved cave temples which contains cave paintings and statues praising Buddha. Drip lines are carved on the rock to permit water to pass through to make the cave dry within. This is also why the cave complex is well maintained as there is a minimal erosion because of water. The complex consists of five caves as the main attractions of the place.
5. Hendeniya Rajamaha Viharaya
Hendeniya Rajamaha Vihara is a rock cave temple located in Udu Nuwara. Also known as ‘Galgane Vihara’ the temple along the Kandy-Daulagala Road, is about 12 km from Kandy. Local traditions state that this Len Vihara (cave temple) was built at the request of Henekanda Biso Bandara (consort of King Wickremabahu III) from the Gampola period (1357-1374), and served as her resting place when she visited Lankatillake Vihara and Embekke Devale nearby. The Kingdom of Kandy in the earliest times was referred to as “Kanda Uda Pas Rata” (The five counties). It had been from this that the name Kandy was derived.
6. Isipathanaramaya Temple
The Isipathanaramaya Temple is located in the Isipathana Road, Colombo which is famous for the numerous Buddha statues and carvings on the walls with a combination of small temple and a museum.
It was built in 1916 by Duenuge Disan Pedris, a wealthy merchant, in memory of his only son Henry Pedris who was executed by British officials for alleged incitement of racial riots in 1915 (which were proven false). The temple was constructed on 4.9 acres property that Pedris had purchased in 1905. The temple that is often known for giving a tranquil experience to anyone visiting the place, Isipathanaramaya Temple is a sure shot chartbuster for any traveler. It also features various frescoes, which add another level of charm to the whole experience. The calm that you feel when there is something which every traveler looks for in a visit to any religious spot.
7. Koneswaram Temple
Also historically referred to as Konesar Kovil and the Temple of the Thousand Pillars, Koneswaram temple is a vital Hindu temple in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. The Koneswaram temple includes a recorded history from 300 CE and also at its zenith was of considerable size and heralded among the richest and most visited temples in Asia. Certainly, it is one of five temples of the island focused on the Hindu deity Shiva whose construction began within the ancient period (Ishwarams), Koneswaram is venerated by Saivites in the area.
8. Gangaramaya Temple
Located on an island in Beira Lake, The Ganagaramaya Temple is one of the most prominent shrines in Colombo. The temple is known for displaying the main features of a Vihara, the Vihara Mandiraya, the Cetiya (Pagada) the Bodhi tree, the Seema Malaka (assembly hall for monks) and the Relic Chamber. One of the major landmarks in Colombo, the temple features a blend of Thai, Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan styles of architecture. Interestingly, the complex does not only act as a temple, it also is a hub of social welfare through an old age home, an orphanage, educational centers along with a museum a library
This temple is visited by a large number of tourists and locals every day.
9. Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam Temple
Also called Kovil Veediya, it is the oldest and one of the largest Hindu temples in Srilanka. It is located at Captain’s Garden, Maradana district, behind the Fort Railway Station. It is also called Captain’s Gardens Pillayar Kovil. Within it is shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesh and the temple is known for its rich architecture and historic values. It is the center for celebrations during the harvest festival of Thai Pongal, which is a festival celebrated in January every year which is the most vibrant time for the temple complex.
10. Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Kovil
The Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Kovil in Nilaveli near Trincomalee is a massive temple and colorfully decorated. Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Kovil temple is a newly restored temple complex. Though it was constructed in 2011, it is already a one of the most popular hindu temples in Sri Lanka. A bronze colored Dhwaja Stambha, the flag mast of the temple, is erected in front of the wooden doors. As in the case of Indian Vishnu temples, a Garuda vehicle of Lord Vishnu is in front of the main shrine, which houses Lord Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi Devi.