The historical sinhalese kings have maintained many of the beautiful Buddhist temples that are scattered across Sri Lanka and any tourists should be thankful they bothered! The island has a history of Buddhist worship that dates back to the third century BCE and a tour of the country can sometimes feel like a window into the past. From intricate cave temple complexes to impressive and vast domed Stupa, the architectural wonders of Sri Lanka cannot be overstated! There are about 6,000 Buddhist monasteries on Sri Lanka with approximately 15,000 monks so the temples below are not just antique ruins but thriving communities that form part of a living history.
Dambulla cave temple
Located in the in the southern part of Dambulla this unusual Royal Rock Temple sits about 100m above the road. There is a bit of a climb to reach this temple but there are some steps to help you up the sloping rock face. Asides from the unique architecture of the temple itself, there are beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and you can get an extraordinary view of Sigiriya. There are five caves in the temple complex and they feature around 150 images of Buddha, mostly dating from the 19th century. This is the temple to visit if you are looking for a slightly unconventional dose of culture!
Temple of the Tooth
This is one of the most famous temples in Sri Lanka and it is a must-see destination to include on any holiday itinerary – I mean it’s the temple that holds the relic of Buddha’s tooth, how can you resist! This temple is nestled inside the royal palace complex in the city of Kandy ( coincidently – it is believed whoever has the relic of the tooth has governance of Sri Lanka). However, don’t just take our word for it that this is an entrancing place to see: The Temple of the Tooth has UNESCO world heritage status and ancient ceremonies and rituals continue to be performed there every day.
This is the oldest of the temples on our list and it was the first stupa to be built in Sri Lanka after the introduction of Buddhism. It has been standing tall since 250/210 BC and its ruins over about 3.5 acres. This temple used to be covered with gold and silver casing with matching golden doors however throughout Sri Lanka’s tumultuous history this precious metal was plundered.
Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most popular tourist sites in Columbo. The Temple complex wears a lot of hats as both a place of worship, a buddhist school and a museum of relics! This temple is also worth a visit as it is seems to float on water and is made up of interconnected islands. Despite the feeling of ancient calm that permeates the temple this building is in fact a contemporary creation of the architect Geoffrey Bawa and is a really interesting example of modern design.
Located within Sri Lanka’s “Cultural Triangle” area it isn’t so much the Temple building itself we are enamoured with but the beautiful ascent to the hill top temple. Towering above the tiny village of Mihintale, the Stupa is placed at the mystical spot where Buddhism was first brought to Sri Lanka. On the walk up the way is fringed with twisting time-worn trees that form an arch above the path upwards. The trees form the most lovely frame to the panoramic views of that land below.
Nagadeepa Temple (or Nainativu) has quite the pedigree; it is named in the Great Chronicle of Mahavamsa, an ancient spiritual text. Nagadeepa island is one of the smallest of the islands found in the gulf of mannar and it can only be reached by boat, adding to its quaint, old-worldly feel.
The only Hindu temple on our list, Koneswaram Kovil overlooks Trincomalee from Swami Rock. The primary deity at this temple is the god Lord Shiva in the form of Konesar . A temple has existed in this spot since the 3rd Century and it’s eye-catching, colourful exterior is always a draw for tourists.
If our list has inspired you and you are desperate to see the spiritual wonders of Sri Lanka then hop on over to our website and make an enquiry! All of our holidays are built to fit around you and we will tailor every aspect of your Sri Lanka tour so that it is perfect for you. If you can’t wait another moment then make an enquiry using the contact form below:
WITH A SPECIALIST TEAM OF LUXURY TRAVEL CONSULTANTS, KERALA MOMENTS LTD. SPECIALISES IN PROVIDING BESPOKE TOURS OF THE KERALA REGION, AND ALSO POSSESSES EXPERIENCE OF PROVIDING TOURS IN NORTHERN INDIA AND DESTINATIONS ACROSS SOUTHERN ASIA. WHEREVER YOU WANT TO GO AND WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FAR EAST, WE WILL WORK PERSONALLY WITH YOU TO CREATE AN ITINERARY THAT IS TAILORED TO ALL OF YOUR REQUIREMENTS. THE TEAM REGULARLY VISITS ASIA TO MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR FAVOURITE HOTELS, TO KEEP OUR LOCAL KNOWLEDGE FRESH, AND TO DISCOVER NEW EXPERIENCES THAT ENSURES OUR CUSTOMERS ARE RECEIVING THE BEST POSSIBLE ADVICE ON THEIR BESPOKE TRIPS. WHATEVER YOUR BUDGET MAY BE, CONTACT OUR KERALA TOUR EXPERTS WHO WILL BE DELIGHTED TO ASSIST YOU AT EVERY STAGE OF YOUR JOURNEY, AND TO HELP YOU ON YOUR WAY TO DISCOVERING YOUR OWN KERALA MOMENTS ACROSS ASIA.