Kelaniya Temple (Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya)

Hi guys, hope you are doing well. Today I will take you to Kelaniya Temple (aka Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya), which is not far from the capital of the Island. It is situated in ‘Kelaniya’ area about 12km East to Colombo City on the bank of the Kelani River.

Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple is one of highly sacred and highly sought after temples in Sri Lanka. The reason it is considered to be highly sacred is, Lord Buddha has visited the place in the third visit to Sri Lanka. Thousands or some times tens of thousands of people visit Kelaniya Temple daily to worship. Not only locals, but also foreigners tend to visit this place.

History of Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple said to be built in the era prior to the recorded history of Sri Lanka. That means it is even older than the ancient temples in Anuradhapura. Lord Buddha visited Kelaniya to stop a war between two brothers called ‘Chulodara’ and Mahodara’, over a jewel encrusted throne. The war would have resulted in loss of vast number of lives, so Lord Buddha visited Kelaniya (the third and final visit to Sri Lanka), preached dhamma and settled them down. Kelaniya Temple is built on that place.

Siwuru Gala
This place is considered to be the place where Lord Buddha kept his robe while bathing in Kelani River.

Siwuru Gala

The temple has destroyed time to time by various invaders and number of kings in various eras have renovated it. For the last time Kelaniya Temple was destroyed by Portuguese in 1510 and King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha renovated it again in 1867. The stupa said to contain the jewel encrusted throne enshrined in it.

None of the original buildings remain in the present except for the stupa. Even the stupa is a result of number of renovations. The temple we see today is the outcome of last major renovation done in the 20th century. You can refer Wikipedia also, but there is not much information on it.

Images of Kelaniya Temple

Enough with the information, let’s see some images of Kelaniya Temple now.

Entrance of Kelaniya Temple
Entrance of Kelaniya Temple
Kelaniya Temple Bo Tree
Bo Tree of Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple

Watering Bo Tree
Watering Bo Tree
Joss Sticks
Joss Sticks

Oil Lamps

Kelaniya Stupa
Kelaniya Stupa

The shape of this stupa is fairly uncommon to find. It is called ‘Dhanyakara’ meaning ‘shape of a pile of seeds’ (the most common type you will find is ‘Bubbulakara’ meaning ‘shape of a water drop’).

Kelaniya Temple

Statue of Bodhisathwa

Kelaniya Temple

The image house looks unique and elegant. It is made to comply with Kandyan architectural style. You will find exquisite murals inside the image house other than the statues. They are not ancient paintings, they are done in early 20th century by an artist called Solias Mendis. The murals are of ‘Jathaka Katha’ (stories of previous lives of Lord Buddha), scenes of Lord Buddha’s days and historical events of ancient Sri Lanka.

Ancient Murals at Kelaniya Temple
The First ‘Dana’ (alms giving) to Lord Buddha
Ancient Murals at Kelaniya Temple
Arrival of Sangamitta Theri to Sri Lanka
Ancient Murals at Kelaniya Temple
Dantha and Hemamala were secretly taking the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka (notice the head of Hemamala)

Kelaniya Temple is very calm and peaceful place. But on weekends and holidays, it gets heavily crowded.

How to Reach…?

This is the exact location Kelaniya Temple.

Peaceful Foot Path

Joss Sticks

Kelaniya Temple also conduct a procession annually, called ‘Duruthu Perahera’ (‘Duruthu’ means January in Sinhalese). Hundreds of thousands of locals and thousands of foreigners gather to watch it. It is one of the largest processions in Sri Lanka.

So, that is about Kelaniya Temple. If you want more information, feel free to leave comment below. I am more than happy to help you. And you are looking for an accommodation in Colombo, click here. See you in the next article.

Kelaniya Temple

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