Temples, Colombo

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    Gangaramaya Temple

    by mafi_moya Updated Sep 16, 2004

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    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!

    A mountain of mini-Buddhas!
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    Gangaramya Temple

    by thelittlevoice Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Gangaramya, with its imposing buildings, not far from the placid waters of Beira Lake , was originally, only a little hermitage an a piece of marshy land. The credit of trans forming the little hermitage to the nationally and internationally famous Vihara of today, goes to Ven. Dewundara Sri Jinaratana Nayaka Thero. He won the hearts of the Buddhists as well as the non - Buddhists of the area. He had their support in all his activities. He was a lean person, but possessed indefatigable energy. It took him only a short time to transform the little hermitage to the famous Gangaramaya of today, as a memento to his revered Guru teacher Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thero.

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    Seema Malaka Island Temple

    by mafi_moya Updated Sep 16, 2004

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    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.

    An island of meditation! Seema Malaka temple
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    The oldest Kovil (Hindu temple) in Colombo

    by tommix Written Jan 16, 2004

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    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.

    Kovil's gopuram
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    Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist Temple

    by tommix Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Certainly the most impressive Buddhist temple I have seen in Colombo. There is even a small museum attached to.
    It is beautifully decorated with stone carving, brass work, and other forms of Buddhist art. The temple is not only a place of worship but also a centre of learning. Every Tuesday and Friday, meditation classes are held from 5.00 till 6.30 p.m.
    The temple is widely known for organizing Nawam Perahera, a religious procession, held around the Full Moon Poya day in February. Hundreds of dancers, dressed in traditional costumes representing the different dance traditions of Sri Lanka, accompanied by drummers, colourfully dressed up elephants (the temple possesses six elephants and tuskers) and over 500-700 Buddhists monks from all over the island take part in the procession.
    The small temple in the middle of Beira Lake, next to Oberoi Hotel, which is called Simamalaka, is also part of the Gangarama temple and is nearly a century old. The original Simamalaka fell into ruin and collapsed into Beira Lake. The present Simamalaka was opened in 1979. A model of the foot of the Buddha sculptured in marble, has been donated to Gangaramaya temple, and is placed in the Simamalaka.

    Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
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    Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam Temple

    by Jarin Updated Jul 24, 2004

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    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.

    Kovil Veediya
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    Three Temples in Colombo

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 25, 2012

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    In the Pettah area of Colombo is the famous Sea Street, home to three important Hindu Temples, the Ganeshan, the Old Kathiresan and the New Kathiresan. All have their intricately-carved and colourful gopurams (doorways). This street is also a business centre for many jewellery shops.

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    Kelaniya Temple - I - Outside

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 24, 2012

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    About 12 kms short of Colombo, while returning from Kandy, you will come across Kelaniya Temple built on the banks of the Kelaniya River. It is believed that the Buddha preached at this site just when a war was about to erupt between two powerful kings over a jewel-encrusted throne. The Buddha's teachings brought about a lasting peace in this region and a stupa was built at the spot where the throne was kept. Therefore the name, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara.

    You climb a flight of steps and enter the courtyard of the temple. To your left is a huge statue with another one in the far corner. The temple consists of the image house, the dagoba (which reportedly houses the utensils and other articles used by the Buddha) and the Bo Tree. The original dagoba was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1510 but the Dutch rebuilt it in 1767. The present structure is 25 m (82 ft) high and has a diameter of 55 m (180 ft).

    Inside the temple is a statue of a reclining Buddha and two seated Buddha statues behind fine muslin cloth. In another room is another statue of a seated Buddha.

    The murals in the temple are an added attraction and were done by Soliyas Mendis during 1927-1946. These tell of the major events of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The ceiling contains paintings of the nine planets of Eastern astrology and the twelve zodiacal signs. The temple is also the starting point of the famous Duruthu Perahera (Kelani Procession) started in 1927 and held on the days preceding the full moon day of January.

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    Visit Kelaniya, Sri-Lanka's most beautiful temple

    by lizaresandrea Written Apr 14, 2008

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    About six miles from Colombo, the Kelani Vihara derived its sanctity in the Buddhist era 2531, with the third visit of the Buddha to this country. By the time the Portuguese conquered the country and destroyed the temple built on the spot, considerable land had been donated by the kings to the Kelaniya Vihara. In 1767 the Dutch permitted King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha's to develop Kelaniya Vihara. The existing paintings and sculptures, belonging to the 18th century and early 20th century make the temple the finest repository of Buddhist art in the country.
    The temple itself is a splendid example of Buddhist architecture. Hindu deities and ancient Sinhala designs and patterns are carved into the rock surface.

    A Sinhalese tradition is for pilgrims to walk 7 times around the bo tree near the entrance of the temple grounds. The 2,500-year-old dagoba or relic chamber, is believed to have a priceless jewelled chair on which Lord Buddha sat to preach. This is the most famous paddy heap shaped stupa in Sri-lanka. The viharage or image house is considered one of the most beautiful on Sri-Lanka. It stands on a platform, on the sides of which are three rows of carved figures. The first is of swans, the second of dwarfs, and the last is of elephants. Murals within tell stories of the life of Lord Buddha and historical Buddhist tales. In an inner chamber is a most tranquil, 8 meter long image of the sleeping Lord Buddha.

    Among the temple legends is the story of a 2nd century B.C. king who executed a Buddhist monk by burning him alive in a cauldron of oil. The guardian deities angered by this rash act caused a flood that did not recede until a virgin was sacrificed. A shrine in her honor is found in the temple grounds.

    Not to be missed is the shrine of the skeletal Buddha. The image is startling and thought provoking.

    Entrance to the temple The much photographed dome Mural on the wall The Buddha near death of starvation The temple with the bo-tree in the foreground
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    Gangaramiya Temple-Museum-V

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 24, 2012

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    It is not possible to do justice to the museum of the temple – the artefacts are so many and from so far away. A few photographs may well serve to whet the appetite. If you want a favour done, like opening the glass-covered enclosure to click the statue of the Buddha or want a better understanding of any of the myriad artefacts, ask a senior monk and not a young one. The latter usually declines; the former graciously obliges.

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    Gangaramiya Temple-I-Outside

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 25, 2012

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    The Seema Malaka (Assembly hall for monks) built in 1979 on the Beira Lake and the several building next to these two together constitute the famous Gangaramiya Temple in Colombo established by Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera in 1885. At that time, it was only a small hermitage on swampy land approachable only by boat. In addition to the main temple, there is a three-storeyed structure housing a mind-boggling array of innumerable artefacts, a regular museum, educational and residential halls for the monks, a library, a relic chamber, printing presses, old radios and antique cars. Near the rear of the temple is a multi-tiered array of small statues of the Buddha, literally 40 to 50 of them. Next to this is a huge statue of an elephant. Just near the exit is a tall glass-covered display unit at the top of which is a stark skeletal statue of the Buddha. This is a startling, compelling image and one that you will not forget in a hurry.

    For the Gangaramiya Temple-II-Inside Tip, Please Click Here

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    Seema Malakaya

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Jan 25, 2012

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    While the credit of turning the temple into a famous landmark must go to Sri Jinaratna Nayaka Thero, building the adjoining exquisite Seema Malakaya on Beira Lake goes to Goeffrey Bawa with funds from a Muslim businessman. During the February full moon period each year, the Nawam Perahera is held. Donning colourful robes, hundreds of monks walk in a procession along with youth carrying Buddhist flags. Dancers dance with gay abandon as they showcase the different dances of Sri Lanka. Leading the procession will be many caparisoned elephants.

    The Beira Lake was named after the Dutch engineer John de Beira in 1700, who constructed the moats and water defences of the Dutch Fort in Colombo. He is honoured with a granite plaque bearing the legend, ‘De Beira AD 1700’, in the subway behind the Regal Flats from the old Dutch sluice gates, in the Fort. Originally, it was flood water that would spill over from the Kelani Ganga River. The Portuguese referred to is as the lagoon supposedly infested with deadly crocodiles. A nearby street in the Fort is named Kaymans Gate, from Sinhalese ‘kaaiman’, for crocodiles.

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    Kelaniya Temple - III - Murals

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 24, 2012

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    The murals inside the temple are an added attraction and were done by Soliyas Mendis during 1927-1946. These tell of the major events of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The ceiling contains paintings of the nine planets of Eastern astrology and the twelve zodiacal signs. The temple is also the starting point of the famous Duruthu Perahera (Kelani Procession) started in 1927 and held on the days preceding the full moon day of January.

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    Gangaramiya Temple-Prayer Hall-III

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 25, 2012

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    A shrine on one side of the temple houses a huge statue of the Buddha with intricately carved corner statues. To your left is another statue of the Buddha walking with his son holding his right hand with head turned expectantly towards his father.

    For the Museum Tip, Please Click Here

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    Kelaniya Temple - II - Inside

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Jan 24, 2012

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    Inside the temple is a statue of a reclining Buddha and two seated Buddha statues behind fine muslin cloth. In another room is another statue of a seated Buddha.

    For page 3 of 3, Please Click Here

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