If you are not from the area or from Sri Lanka and happened to be taking a ride on the southern railway you would be surprised at how people suddenly rise from their seats, head towards the windows and fling something out and put their palms together in veneration. This act unites everyone on the train and there is silence for a while save for the rumbling of the great iron wheels on the track beneath. A silence that is brought about by whispered prayers by the devotees of the Buddhist temple dubbed the Kalutara Bodhiya. Needless to say a visit to the most revered grounds of the Kalutara Bodhiya is right at the top of the things to do in Kalutara, an area which is famous for its beaches, delicious mangosteen, and the River Kalu.
The Kalutara Bodhiya temple resides on both sides of the main road that plies from Colombo to Galle and beyond. There is a small underpass that connects the two sections of the temple such that devotees do not have to keep crossing the road. Therefore, it is quite usual for people who pass by to stop at the Kalutara Bodhiya to pay homage to the Buddha, there are plenty of tourists who stop over at hotels such as the Mermaid Hotel and Club in Kalutara to enjoy the lagoon and the beach.
One of the most phenomenal experiences of a visit to the Kalutara Bodhiya is a visit to the interior of the temple’s pearl white stupa. This is a rare type of stupa which allows disciples to enter the dome by ascending a few steps and worship, admire the murals and offer flowers to Buddha. Even if you visit the temple in the afternoon on a humid and sultry day, the moment you step into the inside of the stupa you will be struck by the cool climes thanks to the dense walls, the many layers of protection at the top and the dark interior. The ‘bodhiya’ or the Bo Tree is across the road from the stupa and is one of the most venerated Bo Trees in the country and it is believed that those who pay respects to this tree as they pass by are protected by the Dhamma.
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+