The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, or simply the Kelaniya Temple is indisputably one of the best-known temples in the environs of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It is also counted amongst the most picturesque Buddhist temples in the nation, presenting an alluring spectacle on tranquil moonlit nights. It is constructed on the shores of the Kelani River, and is considered to be especially sacred, as the Buddha himself is said to have visited this location.
After climbing the stairway to the courtyard, you will see a fountain and the towering principal temple edifice, which is decorated with intricate sculptures of elephants, Hindu deities and astrological symbols. On one side the visitor will see the shimmering white dagoba (stupa) whilst on the other, you will see the imposing bell tower. Next to this feature you will see the venerated Bo tree, which is decorated with an array of Buddhist flags. The Buddhist devotees pray in front of giant Buddha statues whilst others light clay lamps containing coconut oil. Everywhere you will discern the sweet odour of incense.
If you venture inside the main building of the temple you will see four distinct sections, each featuring a different motif. In these chambers you will see a number of Buddha figures, both in the seated and reclining positions. Since the original features of the temple were sadly destroyed by Portuguese colonialists in the 16th century, the artworks to be seen at the temple today are of relatively recent origin. Even so, the colourful murals which decorate the ceilings and walls of the temple are of outstanding quality. The Kelaniya Temple seems especially tranquil and alluring during the afternoon, as the leaves of the Bo tree shimmer in the rays of the tropical sunset. You can observe the Buddhist devotees performing their ceremonial duties, or take the opportunity to engage in some meditation of your own. A visit to this temple will always be pleasant and refreshing.
Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday. Google+