In a dramatic setting about 7 miles away from Colombo is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, a temple dedicated to Buddha, who is believed to have visited the site on his third visit to Sri Lanka. Being situated on the banks of Kelani River, the temple and its surroundings look all the more alluring.
Establishment and Restorations
The temple, established in 5th century BC, has undergone destruction and restoration several times. Some of the records in Mahawansa state that the original structure treasured a gem-studded throne on which the Buddha sat and preached. The temple stood in full glory during the Kotte era, before being confiscated by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It was restored under the Dutch empire in 18th century and rebuilt under the patronage of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha. Nothing from the original structure has survived but the hallow land still receives devotees in large numbers.
Highlights of the Temple
The most prominent image in the temple is of the Buddha in reclining posture. The interiors are decorated with paintings depicting various scenes from the life of Buddha, made by local artist Solias Mendis. An 18-foot stone statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has recently been installed.
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