With Sri Lanka’s proud legacy related to Buddhism, you’ll find many Buddhist shrines showcasing their religion in the country. Gangaramaya Temple is one such place that you should visit to have a peaceful time during your visit to Colombo.
Gangaramaya Temple is not only one of the oldest Temples in the country but also one of the most iconic places in the capital of Sri Lanka that exhibits the heritage of the country. It is located in Colombo and is visited by thousands of local and foreign visitors especially to witness its outstanding architecture. You can have an array of experiences inside the temple by exploring the premises.
So, let’s take you on a tranquil journey through the Gangaramaya Temple to calm your senses and give you a glimpse of Sri Lanka’s religious legacy.
General Overview of the Gangaramaya Temple
Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most symbolic landmarks in Colombo as well as it serves as one of the most iconic Buddhist temples in the country. This popular Buddhist shrine attracts many visitors daily, especially for its tranquility within a busy city, amazing architecture, and to see the things that showcase the proud religious legacy of Sri Lanka.
Located on the banks of the well-known Beira Lake, there are also multiple statues and convoluted carvings that mark the grandiose access to the temple. The main premises of this temple accommodates a magnificent statue of Lord Buddha, and the ceilings of the temple are adorned with paintings that depict the anecdotes of his life.
The Gangaramaya Temple was built in the late 19th century by Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera. Soon after this construction, the temple acquired vast popularity in Sri Lanka as well as the rest of the world, including countries like China, Vietnam, India, and Thailand. This was mainly because of the distinctive blend of architectural features of the temple.
Why is this Temple Important?
At present, Gangaramaya Temple is not just a site for worship, but it is also serving as a center of learning as the temple conducts the Sri Jinarathana Training Institute.
This institute handles nearly 40 training bases, all of them hosting an array of vocational courses. It is assessed that more than 7,000 students are registered in these centers. Above all, the temple committee also believed in giving back to the people, through community services.
Thus, The Gangaramaya Temple’s Na Sevana Community Development Project based in Sooriyawewa has been formed to support the encouragement of the local community by administering them with animal husbandry, and agriculture as well as enlightening the locals about health and wellbeing.
A Brief Note From The Inspirational History of the Gangaramaya Temple…
A 19th-century shipping merchant, Don Bastian de Silva Jayasuriya Goonewardane, Mudaliyar, who was aiming for appropriate land to build a temple for the Matara Sri Dharmarama Thero first bought this attractive lot belonging to three Moors.
He then filled and composed the land, spending a real fortune. This land was bounded on two sides by the Pettigala Ela and Moragoda Ela which was used to construct the temple. This was thereafter named the Padawthota Gangaramaya Vihara.
The Mudaliyar, with the help of the people, constructed a grand ‘Chaitya’ (Dagaba) and built a great embellishing Dragon arch (Makara Thorana) and a beautiful stone carving (Sandakada Pahana) at the entrance of the temple. This stone carving is modeled on the ones found in the ancient city of Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura.
Also, a ‘Bo’ sapling obtained from the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, was planted and nurtured with his own hands. Mudliyar also constructed a three-storied preaching hall, railings, walls, and a moat around the temple. Gangaramaya Temple has been renovated and developed ever since, with the patronage of the Sri Lankan governments and with the help of local and foreign Buddhist devotees.
Where is Gangaramaya Temple Located and How to Get There?
Gangaramaya Temple is located In Colombo 2, the capital city of the Western Province of Sri Lanka. It will take around 9 minutes to reach this place from Fort while you will have to spend approximately 50 minutes from the Bandaranaike International Airport to get here.
Access to the Gangaramaya Temple is easy if you stay anywhere in Colombo. You can easily take a Tuk-tuk from Fort to the temple or else take a bus or a hiring vehicle from the Airport to reach your destination. You can get down at the entrance to the temple premises and walk inside, entering from the gate.
What Kind Of Experience Can You Get At The Gangaramaya Temple?
This temple is undoubtedly one of the best places where you can find peace and enjoy a serene environment, escaping from the busy, engaging city of Colombo. This is also an ideal site for sightseeing for anyone who is enthusiastic about learning the religious legacy of the country.
You can spend as much as time you need exploring the inside of the temple premises since the entrance is absolutely free to anyone. You can take permission from the management and carry your digital devices such as cameras, video cameras, and phones so that you can click as many pictures as you need for your travel gallery.
The places you can explore and shouldn’t miss inside the temple includes:
You will have to obtain a ticket when visiting this Museum and this is one of the top attractions in the temple. Inside this precious Museum, you’ll find antiques and paraphernalia associated with Buddhism and the local culture of Sri Lanka.
You will find a massive collection of wood and ivory carvings from several time periods here, along with some well-known Ola leaf writings and trinkets as well. You’ll also find some gorgeous Buddhist statues inside this place gifted to the temple by various countries. In addition, you will find the vintage car which was once used by the famous Sri Lankan entrepreneur, Mr. D.R Wijewardane.
The Relic Chambre
The special Relic Chambre of Gangaramaya Temple houses various relics and statues related to the Lord Buddha and his religion. Even if you’re not a Buddhist yourself, you have plenty of things to explore here with interesting elements and exquisite sights.
You can unwind by the huge Bo Tree, listening to the soul-satisfying sound of the bo leaves rustling to the wind. Here, you will also catch some scenic views of the city. So, do not forget to click beautiful photos to make some unforgettable memories.
Replica of Borobudur
A special place in this temple is dedicated to featuring some statues of the Lord Buddha arranged on a stacked platform. This is considered a replica of an Indonesian temple where you can admire the aesthetic of Southeast Asian architecture.
The Unmissable Seema Malakaya
Designed by a veteran Sri Lankan architect, Jeffry Bawa, the Seema Malakaya in the Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most iconic places that gain the attraction of local and foreign visitors alike.
Located in the middle of Beira Lake, the Seema Malakaya is basically a separate place, away from the main temple, used for meditation.
The captivating architecture is worth admiring, while its lovely atmosphere and the minimalistic color combination are such eye candy. This place is favored among wedding photographers in Sri Lanka and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see the brides and grooms who are dressed in beautiful attire.
Events At Gangaramaya Temple
Since the Gangaramaya Temple is one of the major Buddhist hubs in Sri Lanka, it hosts various religious events throughout the year. You can even take part in their Sil program hosted on every full moon Poya Day along with the meditation sessions conducted by various veteran monks in the country.
In addition to these programs, you’ll be able to experience some pleasant events, especially during the months of May and June when the country celebrates Vesak and Poson full moon Poya Days. The temple premises are illuminated during Vesak and Poson, hosting a variety of programs.
Moreover, the Annual Prestigious Cultural Pageant of the Gangaramaya Temple is usually held in February where you can enjoy an elegant and vibrant procession. If you visit the temple close to this festival, you may even find giant and majestic elephants at the temple premises!
The Nearby Experiences You Can Have When Visiting the Gangaramaya Temple
After spending some quality time at the temple, you can visit other nearby attractions in Colombo to get more experience and further enjoy your city tour. Here are some of the places you can explore:
- The Lotus Tower
- Lotus Pond Theater
- Viharamahadevi Park
- National Museum of Colombo
- Old Parliament Building
- Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct
- National Art Gallery
- Galle Face Green
- Shopping at Pettah
- Traditional Puppet Art Museum
Things You Should Know Before Visiting The Gangaramaya Temple
The Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka welcome visitors regardless of nationality or religion. Thus, Gangaramaya is another place where you can visit and enjoy the beauty of this place without any restrictions.
But still, since Sri Lanka is a culturally contained country, they have a higher concern about what you wear to the temple and how you behave there. Therefore, you should wear modestly, preferably long and light-colored clothing that could cover your shoulders and below your knees.
Clicking photographs or videography backing the statues or artifacts related to Lord Buddha is not allowed here. So, you should be careful when taking photos. You should also remain silent as you explore the temple and behave at your best, respecting the monks and the locals who engage in their worshiping procedures.
Seek Blessings at the Beautiful Gangaramaya Temple as you Enjoy the Tranquility
Among the significant religious places in Sri Lanka, the Gangaramaya Temple owns a special place mainly due to its location and importance in terms of Buddhism. The beautiful architecture, precious statues, paintings, artifacts, and scenic views along with the serenity you can experience in this place makes it one of the must-visit locations in Colombo.