The influence of religion on Sri Lanka can be widely attested my the huge number of temples in Sri Lanka. Buddhism and Hinduism - the two major religious sects of the country - account to the multiple number of temples that reside in almost every nook and corner of the country. Most of the temples are extremely popular amongst pilgrimages and have even made it to UNESCO's Heritage Sites list. While visiting Sri Lanka, one should definitely pay these temples a visit to soak in the spirituality of the country.
Here is the list of 16 Temples in Sri Lanka For A Divine Pilgrimage
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 Sri Lanka. 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.
Gangaramaya Temple is a popular Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka with an interesting blend of different architectures and cultures. 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.
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.
Timings: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
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 oldest Hindu Temple in Colombo, Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam is a skillfully architected temple devoted to Lord Ganesha and Shiva. it also has idols of other Gods and Goddesses from the hindu religion. It was built by Indians during the 18th century and is a sight for many matrimonial ceremonies for the Tamil Hindus that currently reside in the country.
The Koneswaram temple is one of the main highlights of the east coast of Sri Lanka in Trincomalee. This temple in Sri Lanka is located high above the bay, and you can view the breathtaking and awe-inspiring scenery on all sides. The site is a religious pilgrimage for the Hindus and is also known as the Kailasa of the South. The Koneswaram temple is one of the five “Pancha Ishwarams” (abodes of Shiva) which has been built to worship Lord Shiva- the supreme God of Hinduism.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is also called the Golden Temple of Dambulla. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the Matale District, in the central province of Sri Lanka and is the best-preserved and largest cave temple complex of the country. It comprises of five main caves, each possessing numerous statues of Lord Buddha, and some figures of kings and statues of Lord Vishnu.
The Peace Pagoda in the small town of Ampara in Sri Lanka is a holy buddhist temple in Sri Lanka that resembles a white bell. There are around 5 such peace temples across Sri Lanka and multiple others in the world. These temples were commisioned after the World War II to aim at a non-violent vision of the world. These peace temples are calm and serene sights for visitors to come looking for peace and tranquility.
An ancient Buddhist temple, Muthiyangana Temple is believed to be visited for the threee times by Gautam Buddha. The site at which the temple is located also plays signficant role during the episodes of Ramayana. Teh war against Ravana was said to be fought in the location as Lanka was his home. This temple in Sri Lanka makes for an important sacred site for the followers of Budhhism.
A vital temple complex that is steeped in myths and thought to have been existing since 1000 CE, Munneswaram Temple is among the Pancha Ishwarams dedicated to Lord Shiva. A collection of five temples including a Buddhist Temple, the biggest and most famous temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The complex is also the site of the auspicious Munneswaram Festival, a four-week-long event attended by Buddhists and Hindus alike.
Timings: 5:30 AM to 8:00 PM
Surrounded by fascinating myths, Maviddapuram Kandaswamy Temple was commissioned by an 8th century Chola Princess in gratitude honouring the God Murugan for taking away her illness and horse-like disfigurement. According to legends, this temple in Sri Lanka and the surrounding area was named Maviddapuram meaning "the holy city where the horse-face was removed" because of this. Although the temple was rebuilt certain times, the present-day temple dates back to the 17th century and makes it an essential part of Sri Lanka's history.
Timings: 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM
This beautiful historical complex of temples in Sri Lanka is located at the southernmost point in the port town of Tenavaram near Galle. Tenavaram Temple is known for its Dravidian style(Kerala) architecture. The Shiva Shrine among the temples is revered as one of the Pancha Ishwarams while the biggest and most famous shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Known for its beautiful Kandyan-era murals and very intriguing folklore, Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist Rock Temple located in the city of Amunugama in Kandy. Commissioned by King Kirti Sri Ranjasinha in 1771, this cave temple in Sri Lanka is said to have been constructed out of a rock that stood at the height of about 13 meters.
Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Believed to be the site where Buddha first visited in Sri Lanka, Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist Temple in the city of Mahiyangana. It is also among the 16 sacred places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka to have been visited by Buddha called Solosmasthana. Declared by the Sri Lankan government as an archaeological site, this temple in Sri Lanka is considered to be a striking example of the country's architecture.
Located in the northernmost part of Sri Lanka in Jaffna, Keerimalai Naguleswaram temple is among the Pancha Ishwarams of Lord Shiva. One of the oldest and beautiful temples in Sri Lanka, it is revered by Hindus from all over the world. A lake found adjacent to the temple, Keerimalai Springs is believed to have medicinal properties by the locals.
Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
A temple entirely built of granite in the heart of Colombo, Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil mesmerizes the masses with its intricate carvings and designs. People from all over the world, including locals alike, flock to this temple to pray and sit in the presence of the divine. Cameras are banned inside the premises, but it is still among one of the must-visit places in Sri Lanka.
Timings: 5:00 AM to 8:30 PM
Visit these temples in Sri Lanka to find peace for your mind and to reflect upon the architectural as well as historical significance these temples bring to Sri Lanka and its local communities!