Kelaniya Temple – Raja Maha Vihara

Kelaniya Temple is built on the banks of the Kelani River, a few kilometres outside from Colombo’s city center.

You can reach the Temple by getting the bus num 235. It will take about one hour to do 7 km but it’s worth the time. It’s amazing how easily you can escape from Colombo’s heat and find yourself immersed in a dense vegetation populated only by a few families.

It’s believed that Buddha visited this site in occasion of his third visit in Sri Lanka so it’s particular sacred to buddhists. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful temple in Sri Lanka. The main temple building is decorated with carvings of elephants, small dwarfs called Bhairava and gods like Ganesh. Inside it hosts a big laid down Buddha and two seated ones and in each room there are different representations of his visit in Sri Lanka.

The dagoba is placed just next to the temple, and its essential whiteness competes with the clouds’ one floating in the sky.  During the Duruthu Perahera, it’s the fulcrum of the procession that takes place in January.

The Bodhi tree, as always, is the place that most strikes me as it reminds me of the strong respect buddhism has for all living beings. There are four Buddhas, one for each side of the squared altar, and is very usual to find an infinite queue of followers waiting for their turn to pour  the water from clay pots to the Bodhi tree. On the perimeter, followers offer flowers to Buddha and pray.

The original temple, unfortunately, has been destroyed by the Indian invaders, rebuilt and destroyed again by the portuguese in the XVI sec. The Dutch rebuilt it once again to gain the favor of the Sri Lankans.


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