Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple built in the 5th century. It is 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 thus holds great historical importance not only to Buddhists but also for all Sri Lankans. It covers an area of 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.
The Gangaramaya Temple is a unique blend of architecture and culture and a place for Buddhist learning and worship. It also effectively takes part in social welfare. It was built first in the 19th century and started by the famous scholar-monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera. The temple is a unique blend of architectural styles from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Chinese and India.
Probably among the most famous Buddhist Temples in the world, Vajiraramaya Temple established in 1901 by Pelene Sri Vajiraramaya Maha Nayaka Thera is known for its resident monks from all over the world and their alumni who are now in different parts of the world. This temple in Sri Lanka plays a huge role in educating the youth on the principles of Buddhism.
The Dutch Reformed Church, also known as De Groote Kerk, is a church located inside the Galle Fort. Built-in 1755, it is the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka and continues to be in use today. The Dutch Reformed Church is mostly renowned for its fascinating interiors. This piece of colonial architecture houses interesting relics as a testament to its long histories, such as an organ, pulpit and stunning stained glasswork. Distinctive memorial tablets of former commanders of Galle serve as a reminder of the Dutch colonialists.
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The Peace Pagoda is on the hillside of the Galle Fort and is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The Mahayana sect built the Peace Pagoda as an initiative to establish peace in the Sri Lankan conflict zone. The Pagoda is a spectacle to witness, especially when you view it from the side of Unawatuna, which makes it look like it has grown out of the jungle.
Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Sinhalese name for this holy shrine. Famously called Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it is touted to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in the whole world. It houses the tooth of Buddha nestled in a golden chamber and is within the premises of the royal palace complex (formerly a princely state). Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is said that whichever state holds the tooth relic, maintains an essential place in the governance of the country.
Mahamevnama Monastery is part of the series of monasteries which originated from Sri Lanka but grew to nine other countries including Canada, United States of America and Australia. The primary purpose is to present the spiritual teachings of Gautama Buddha easily so that people can easily understand it. The most famous and the primary Mahamevnama Monastery is located at Polgahawela. Here, you can also visit the sacred Bodhi tree complex and the Dhammachakkha stupa, make some offerings to the shrine, browse through the collection of teaching in an informative book shop or become a part of the evening chant.
The Seetha Amman Temple is a small temple located in the village of Seetha Eliya in Sri Lanka. It is about a kilometre away from the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, and about 5 to 6 kilometres away from the central city of Nuwara Eliya. It is a shrine for Sita Devi, the daughter of Mother Earth and wife of Lord Rama, from the Ramayana. The temple is built on the site where Sita Devi was believed to be kept as a prisoner by King Ravana. The temple premises also has Lord Hanuman's footprints and the river Seetha from where different deities were recovered.
Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya or Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha is a Theravada Buddhist temple atop a hill in Kandy. True to its name “Big Buddha” is known for being a powerful and giant Buddha statue that overlooks the princely state of Kandy. It shows Buddha taking the Dhyana Mudra position, which was how he attained enlightenment. A trip to the Big Buddha serves as a pilgrimage, adventure and overall soul-searching experience.
Located in the town of Pettah in Colombo, Wolvendaal Church is one of the more significant remnants of the Dutch Colonial era and is one of the oldest Protestant Churches in Sri Lanka that is still in use. Constructed in 1757, according to Roman and Greek architectural influences, Wolvendaal is truly a sight to behold.
Built-in 1916, Isipathanaramaya Temple in Havelock Town is one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in Colombo. This temple in Sri Lanka is widely famous for its exuberant murals painted by Maligawe Sarlis and its melancholic backstory. A wealthy merchant Duenuge Disan Pedris commissioned it in memory of his son Henry Pedris who was executed by the British officials wrongfully. Recently, a 12-meter tall statue of Buddha was erected at the site.
St. Lucia’s Cathedral is named after the saint martyr St. Lucia who is considered to be the protector of those with eye troubles in Colombo. The St. Lucia’s Cathedral church is the oldest Parish church in Sri Lanka and is considered to be the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo. St Lucia’s Cathedral was first established in 1760 and exhibited beautiful architecture of the Gothic style. The cathedral has a rich culture and heritage, which makes it a popular place in Colombo.
Pathirakali Amman Temple is a Hindu temple of the goddess Kali who is believed to be an incarnation of goddess Kali Amman located in Trincomalee which is in the eastern province of Sri Lanka. The temple is built in the classical Dravidian style of architecture which is similar to the temple styles found in South India. The temple has a beautiful design and interior along with beautiful sculptures which are nothing short of excellence. Along with temple design, there is also an appropriate description and plenty of stories which have been visualized in the statues.
The Dambulla Cave Temple also called the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Matale District, in the central province of Sri Lanka. It is the best-preserved and most extensive cave temple complex of the country comprising of five main caves, each possessing numerous statues of Lord Buddha, and some figures of kings and statues of Lord Vishnu.
The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is one of the most ancient trees which are living even today standing tall in the Mahamewna Gardens in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The tree is believed to have sprouted from a cutting brought from Bodh Gaya in India, where Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment. The tree is an authentic and living link to Gautama Buddha and is often respected as the oldest tree in history which has a recorded date of the plantation.
St. Anthony's Shrine, built in 1828, is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua and is a modern Roman Catholic church in the Kochchikade, Kotahena of Colombo.The shrine has an impressive Renaissance architecture and is a place of miracles and faith for both Catholics and non-Catholics. It attracts worshipers at all times of the day, especially on Sundays and is thus one of the most sought after attractions of Colombo. The 1st floor has a small museum dedicated to the memory of the patron saint, St. Anthony.
Jetavanaramaya monastery is one of the largest monasteries in the heritage city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This magnificent structure was the third-largest structure in the ancient world. Legend has it that a part of Buddha’s sash or belt was tied and preserved here at the Jetavanaramaya monastery.
The Abhayagiri Vihara is one of the most beautiful and exciting structures which is in the atmospheric setting of Anuradhapura. The grand scale of the monastery ruins is genuinely breathtaking and can be viewed at any time, be it the break of dawn or dusk. The Abhayagiri Vihara has a beautiful and shimmering glow.
Visit these fantastic religious places in Srilanka to witness the beauty of the rich heritage and culture of Srilanka.