Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple



The 120-year-old Gangaramaya is not the typical Sri Lankan temple. Situated in the bustling inner-city Colombo, nearby the scenic Beira Lake, this intriguing temple complex is simultaneously a hugely popular tourist attraction, a place of worship and a learning and vocational training center.

Rather than huge, open spaces and tranquility, expect huge collections of fascinating artifacts and crowds at Gangaramaya. The temple is mostly celebrated for its lavish architecture and statues showcasing Sri Lankan, Chinese, Thai, Burmese and many other artistic styles. The exterior of the temple is boldly decorated in elaborate designs and golden adornments. The temple grounds are black slate tiled, with various statues—Buddha, lion, nymph—and china vases placed randomly.

Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple

Two medium-height golden Buddha statues stand like sentinels at the door leading to the main sanctuary of the temple. The door itself is an impressive work of craftsmanship, with intricate wood carvings of elephants and swans reminiscent of the island’s ancient artisanship. (The door to the exit is similarly engraved.) The temple’s main sanctuary is a soothing room decorated in soft yellowish hues, housing a massive Buddha statue in meditation pose flanked by statuettes of heavenly creatures. The ceilings are enchantingly decorated with vibrant pastel paintings depicting Buddhist stories. The columns of the sanctuary are breathtakingly festooned with traditional Sri Lankan art. Many white-clad devotees go through the main sanctuary to offer colorful lotuses to the Buddha and exit out into the courtyard to light oil lamps and burn incense. There is a distinguishable stepped wall out here with many stone statues of the Buddha and stupas. The Bodhi tree and the courtyard of the coral-white stupa are excellent places to bask in serenity.

Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple

The temple’s most distinguishing feature is its treasure-trove museum that holds an innumerable number of Buddha statues from all over the world along with statues of Hindu gods, old watches, Dutch coins and many other antique collectibles. The temple museum proudly houses the smallest Buddha statue on the island, carefully encased in a glass box, which visitors can view with a magnifying class. Most of the bejeweled and shiny trinkets here are gifts from devotees to the temple’s head monk, Ven. Galaboda Gnanissara Thero, one of the island’s most recognizable religious figures, who assumed administration of the Gangaramaya as a 16-year-old novice monk. An ardent traveler, the temple is overrun by outlandish souvenirs Gnanissara Thero has gathered from places he’s been to, such as a “hip” Buddha statuette sporting a pair of sunglasses. The venerable monk is also an antique car lover and visitors can marvel at his collection of old Rolls-Royces and Mercedes, including Sri Lanka’s very first Mercedes.


Venue Details & Map

Gangaramaya Buddhist temple

61, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 02

+94 112 435 169

Kelaniya Buddhist Temple

Kelaniya Buddhist Temple

Situated 10km away from the heart of Colombo is the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya. The ancient chronicle ‘Mahavamsa’ states that on the eighth year following enlightenment; the Buddha visited Kelaniya with 500 Bikkhus (Monks) on the invitation of King Maniakkhikha to preach the dhamma.




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