The Gangaramaya Vihara is probably Colombo's most famous Buddhist temple, tucked away next to Beira Lake. It's a wonderfully peaceful place, built in the 19th century, and overwhelmed with the smell of burning incense. It's beautifully decorated with stone carvings, brass work and colourful Buddhist paintings. There's a resident elephant in the grounds (getting on a bit now!) and an unusual 'slope' of mini-Buddhas (see the photo. Would it be rude to say they reminded me of little garden gnomes!!)
There's also a fascinating museum, which has the feeling of walking into one of those old antique curiosity shops, with all kinds of artefacts piled to the ceiling and hidden away in corners, seemingly in no order whatsoever. The monks are very friendly and used to tourists and will gladly show you around. If the museum is locked just ask and it'll be opened up. Meditation classes are also held here and it's a favourite spot of foreigners wanting to become Buddhists or at least learn more about it.
In the grounds is a sacred Bodhi tree, grown from a sapling taken from the most sacred Bodhi tree of all, the Sri Maha in Anuradhapura. This tree is now over a century old itself.
In February the temple organises the annual Nawam Perahera, a religious procession involving hundreds of dancers and drummers and monks from around the country and a fair few decorated elephants. It doesn't quite match the Esala perahera in Kandy for sheer scale and colour, but it certainly livens up Beira Lake once a year!
This temple, floating on the middle of Beira Lake, is one of Sri Lanka's more unusal temples. After the original 19th century version slowly sunk into the water, Sri Lanka's most famous architect Geoffrey Bawa was commissioned to redesign it in 1979. Whereas most Buddhist temples in the country follow strict traditional design this one deliberately set out to be different and unique.
In keeping with the idea of the unusual, much of the financing for the temple was actually given by a local Muslim who had been upset by his local community and decided to get them back by funding a new Buddhist temple instead of a mosque!
The buildings are connected to each other and the mainland by narrow walkways lined with Buddha statues donated from Thailand. Inside the buildings are statues of four Hindu gods. It doesn't have the glaring gold and sensory overload of many other temples, but its more simplistic approach, together with some beautiful scupltures and paintings, is in many ways actually more peaceful, especially being in the middle of the lake.
Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam Temple – Kovil Veediya
Located at Captain’s Gardens (Maradana district) - situated behind the Fort Railway Station. It is the oldest and one of the largest Hindu temples in Colombo. Houses shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesh.
Inside this Kovil was so peaceful. At the time of our visit it was not crowded, so we could enjoy the wonderful temple in it’s full with in the distance the smell of the incense.
Sri Kailasanathar Swami Devasthanam is situated behind the Fort Railway Station it is considered as the oldest and one of the largest Hindu temples in Colombo. Houses shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesh.
Temple has several elaborate gopurams.
Visiting the Hindu Temple the priest invited us into a small room and blessed us both with the ashes. Here is Bill with the dot of ashes between his eyes. Notice he was not allowed to wear his shirt into this particular room where the priest was chanting a prayer. Women are allowed also. I also got the dot and blessing but could keep my shirt on.
A great location for photography situated in the heart of the city and this temple is one of the very significant ones in Colombo.