Almost every tour guide will lead you to the Gangarayama Temple, because this is the prime Buddhist tourist attraction in Colombo. Therefore you may see many tourists visiting this temple. Some monks speak English, which is an advantage, since many monks in Sri Lanka are not able to communicate in English. However, when you enter this temple you may wonder whether you enter a Buddhist museum or a temple. You might be confused because all the artifacts are exhibited in a disorganized way. You can see a precious piece of Chinese art hundreds of years old next to a bunch of watches and other non-precious gifts. It is like roaming through your grandmother’s loft, discovering all kinds of interesting items. A stepping stage of many Buddha statues makes this temple very special. The tallest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka (12 m. high) can be found in Aukana (Cultural Triangle), but the tiniest Buddha statue (not bigger than the top of your thumb) can be seen in the Gangaramaya Temple. The complex of this temple is huge, with a sapling of the Bodhi tree and a dagoba behind the building, this part gives you more the feeling that you are in a temple and not only in a museum. The Gangaramaya Temple was established in the last decade of the 19th Century in a wetland area near Lake Beira by a rich and famous shipping merchant called Don Bastian (de Silva Jayasuriya Goonewardane, Mudaliyar). The temple is also famous for organizing the annual Navam perahera (procession) with more than 100 elephants, dancers and drummers, taking place on full moon (Poya) day each February. It is one of the most spectacular cultural events in Sri Lanka. Moreover the temple organizes free vocational trainings for some 7000 students, runs an orphanage and is doing welfare work in the Hambantota District in cooperation with Parliament Member Namal Rajapaksha (son of ex President Mahinda Rajapaksha). It cannot be considered as an example of an average Buddhist temple; therefore you should also visit a non- touristic Buddhist temple to get a good impression about temple life and architecture. The Gangaramaya Temple is unique among the Buddhist temples.
Sri Jinarathana Road,