Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara

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Timings : Morning 8.00 AM -10.00 AM; Evening 4.00 PM - 8.00 PM

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Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara, Colombo Overview

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.

A large number of people also pilgrimage on Poya day ( full moon day of the month ) and conduct several religious programs here. The temple, as you'd expect, is grand. 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.

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According to mythology Vibhishana(King Ravana’s younger brother) ruled Kelaniya as a provincial kingdom and in today’s era, he is worshipped as the deity of the area. Naga King Maniakkitha was the ruler of Kelaniya at the time of Lord Buddha's arrival, and he was the one to invite lord Buddha. The stupa had been renovated by king Uttiya in 3rd century BC and later by king Yatala Tissa. King Parakramabahu VI further improved the infrastructure. But more subsequently the Portuguese who visited the Island destroyed the temple, but the Dutch restored it, and the Kandyan King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha renovated the temple which is existing till now.


Morning 8.00 AM -10.00 AM; Evening 4.00 PM - 8.00 PM

Things To Do

Many devotees do Parikrama(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.

One 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.

How To Reach Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara

It takes about 40 minutes from Colombo (Galle Face) to arrive here, and you will find many buses and tuk-tuks easily.

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