As a majority Buddhist country, Sri Lankan culture finds itself interwoven in Buddhist history. Are you in awe of Buddhist religious sites or are pilgrims looking for religious places of worship? Here is a list of important Buddhist religious places in Sri Lanka.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa. The temple situated in the former palace complex of the last capital of the ancient Kandyan Kingdom. This is the most sacred sites in the history of Buddhism as it houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. It is said the tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka during 04th-Century AD hidden in the hair of a princess. The temple is one the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in our country. There are many more religious places belonging to the Central province. These include the Gadaladeniya Temple, Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Vihara, Lankatilaka Vihara and Matale Aluviharaya and the Dambulla Cave. If you are spending the night at Yoho Embulpura Road in Kandy do inform the front desk to arrange you a tour of the religious sites and they’d be happy to assist you.
Adam’s Peak also commonly known as Sri Pada or Samanala Kanda is located centrally between the Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya districts. The 1.8m rock shape “sacred footprint” is at the peak and according to Buddhists signifies the footprint of Lord Buddha. However, Hindus’ believe the footprint to be that of Lord Shiva and Muslims as the footprint of Adam. There are six trails to get to Adam’s Peak and including the Ratnapura-Palabaddala, Hatton-Nallathanni, Kuruwita-Erathna, Murraywatte, Mookuwatte and Malimboda routes.
The ancient Kingdom Cities of Anuradhapura and Polononnaruwa signify a lot on the country’s Buddhist history. Starting with old Bhiksu stupas, schools and viharayas the UNESCO World Heritage cities are home to more religious buildings (377BC-1310CE). The city of Anuradhapura, is a central Buddhist city with many temples and stupas belonging to the ancient era. Some of the main points of interest include the Jaya Sri Maha Bodiya – the scared fig tree planted in 288 BC in the Mahamewana Gardens that is also the oldest human planted tree in the world. The right wing branch (southern) from the Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under Lord Buddha attained clarification. Sri Maha Bodiya is one the most sacred ruins of the Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Mihintale, Ruwanweliseya, Jetwanaramaya and Thuparamaya are a few other important places of worship for Buddhist followers that you can visit while staying at Yoho Diamond Lake Tourist Rest.
Another important Buddhist site is Kiri Vehera, an ancient stupa situated in city of Kataragama. The stupa belong to one of the most visited Buddhist pilgrimage cities in country and was said to have been built by King Mahasen in the 06th century BC.
If you are in Western province, do not be disappointed! The province has a number of religious places of interest including Gangaramaya, Bellanwilla Viharaya, Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya and the Kalutara Bodiya.
Featured image by Muradh Mohideen.