2 Beautiful Must-See Temples in Colombo
Sri Lanka has long been on my travel list, and I am extremely happy to say that it was the first country visited on the 2019 travel docket. This now brings me to my 86th country! Sri Lanka is a truly unique country that should be thoroughly explored. Even though my own journey to Sri Lanka was quite short and a whirlwind, I was able to see many beautiful sites that will follow in future blog entries, so please stay tuned.
During my time in Sri Lanka, I based myself in Colombo and spun off different trips to places that are further afield. Because my time in Sri Lanka was short, and I was not staying particularly close to any major sites in Colombo, on my one free day in the city, I opted to hire a driver for several hours to take me around to some of the major sites.
While I saw many different sites in Colombo during those several hours, two places in particular caught my attention; Gangaramaya Temple and Seema Malaka Temple. These two must-see temples are located very close to each other, and they only cost 300 rupees ($1.68 as of March 2019) under one ticket to enter and explore.
Here are 2 beautiful must-see temples in Colombo! Enjoy!
Gangaramaya Temple is an extremely important and famous temple in Sri Lanka. It is located in central Colombo near the National Museum and Viharamadevi Park.
The temple is unique in the fact that it is a Buddhist temple with a mix of different architectural styles that come from Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Sri Lankan influence. In addition, it is also famous for its resident elephant, Ganga, who is chained in the back of the temple. However, while I did not see the elephant, apparently it is not kept in proper conditions based on stories I have heard, but I cannot verify these claims.
Gangaramaya Temple has a large central temple which is highly decorated and extremely colorful, a museum with all kinds of different Buddhist artifacts, and a large Bodhi tree in the center of the temple that the devout make offerings in front of. The Bodhi tree is important is Buddhist belief because it is believed that the Buddha reached enlightenment while meditating under it.
Upon entering the temple, it is customary to remove your shoes and pay the entrance fee of 300 rupees. However, you don’t have to worry about someone taking your shoes since it is unlikely someone will actually steal your shoes.
Seema Malaka Temple
Seema Malaka Temple is another wonderful temple that is definitely worth visiting. It is located on the shores of Lake Beira in central Colombo, and it is not located far from Gangaramaya Temple. In fact, you can easily walk from one to the other with very little effort.
In order to enter the temple, you will need to purchase a ticket. However, if you paid for entrance into Gangaramaya Temple, the ticket is also valid for Seema Malaka. If you have your ticket from Gangaramaya, then you can just show it to the attendant, and he will let you in. Of course, just like at other temples, you must remove your shoes before entering the sacred grounds.
While Seema Malaka Temple is definitely smaller than Gangaramaya Temple since it is used more for meditative purposes and not so much for rituals, it is in a much more beautiful and picturesque setting since it sits on a lake that overlooks several of Colombo’s modern high-rise buildings, and it provides many beautiful photo ops.
The temple is filled with Buddha statues that are in different positions relating to spiritual practices. I found it particularly interesting that the Buddha statues overlook the modern city. It creates a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity.
While only one of the temple buildings was open, the central building holds a small museum with a large statue of the Buddha that is definitely worth seeing.
Overall, while Colombo has many sites to see and explore, these two Buddhist temples should be on the must-see list for any visitor to Colombo, Sri Lanka.