Entrance of the Gangaramaya Temple
One of the major highlights of my trip to Srilanka was the visit to the 19th Century Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo. And although Srilanka is full of immaculately maintained historic churches and both Hindu and Buddhist temples in all of its cities which are not only fully-functioning religious places but also popular tourist sites but this temple is a major highlight and a must visit.
Just around five-minute drive from the city centre, Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Srilanka. Its a huge temple with every inch of it covered in statues of Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese deities and gods. For me, the most striking part of it was the colossal statue of Lord Buddha in the Viharaya section of the temple as shown in the picture below. (You can assess the size of this statue from the lady praying in front of it)
This temple is brilliant in the sense that you can see so much about Buddhism right in one place and since I’m fascinated by different religions, cultures and people, this was perfect for me.
I loved to see an actual Seema Malaka there which is an assembly hall for monks, a hair relic in the relic chamber, the Bodhi tree located in the center of the temple (it is said that the sapling of this tree was brought from the sacred Bo Tree in Anuradhapura and Bo Tree is sacred because it is under this tree that Buddha attained Nirvana), a taxidermy of an actual elephant in the museum located inside the temple and the Atavisi Buddha Pooja Hall with statues of 28 Buddhas.
Atavisi Buddha Pooja Hall with the statues of 28 Buddhas
A replica section from a Buddhist temple in Indonesia with Buddhas sitting serenely on platforms
The Sacred Bo Tree
Taxidermy of an actual sacred elephant
It was most amazing to watch people from another religion at their place of prayer; Buddhists bowing and praying devotionally to Lord Buddha and other gods, reading their holy scriptures in the temple courtyard and burning incense around the Bodhi tree… the place made more mystique by the strong smell of incense and the resonating sound of shehnai and drums throughout the temple played by the local temple band.
It was amazing to see the tolerance and acceptance portrayed towards all kinds of visitors by the worshippers who prayed in silent devotion while tourists roamed around taking pictures and all.
Brilliant sculptures depicting significant Buddhist events
A big Buddha statue sculpted entirely out of white jade
Another Buddha statue sculpted out of Jade
There is just a small entrance fee but that is nothing compared to the experience the temple offers. It was a last minute plan for us but I’m so glad we did it.
Author’s Bio: Hi, I’m Asma and I’m the owner of Holiday Done Right. I’m also a writer/blogger and a Communications professional. I’m from Pakistan, currently settled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Follow me on Twitter @AsmAbbas