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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Must Visit Buddhist Sites in Sri Lanka - Explore the Religious Beliefs of the Locals
Joanna James Joanna James
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Must Visit Buddhist Sites in Sri Lanka - Explore the Religious Beliefs of the Locals

Since the majority of the population in Sri Lanka follow Buddhism, it should come as no surprise that the country is smattered with various sites of religious importance to Buddhists.


The "Dalada Maligawa": The Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Dalada Maligawa which is found in the heart of the city of Kandy, is home to the Sacred Tooth of Lord Buddha. It is a Buddhist site that is visited by anyone who visits Kandy. The Sacred Tooth was initially kept in India. However, the relic was sent to Sri Lanka with Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala by King Guhasiva during the 4th century in order to prevent the relic from falling into the hands of the enemy. The tooth relic later became a symbol of power, with the person in possession having a divine right to the throne. With the establishment of the Kandyan Kingdom in the heart of the country, King Wimaladharmasuriya I caused the tooth relic to be enshrined in a building. However, later on, King Weera Parakrama built the present Temple which was expanded later by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.


Thuparamaya: The Oldest Dagoba

When residing in accommodation such as Ulagalla, many opt to visit the nearby city of Anuradhapura. There are a number of places to visit in Anuradhapura. One such site includes Thuparamaya. Found in the Mahamewna Park in Anuradhapura, this stupa is the oldest dagoba in Sri Lanka. Constructed in the shape of a bell, Thuparamaya was built under the patronage of King Devanampiyatissa upon the request of Mahinda Thera. Mahinda Thera was the priest who was sent to Sri Lanka by King Asoka of India to introduce Theravada Buddhism to the island. The right collar bone of the Buddha is believed to be enshrined within the stupa.



Built by King Dutugemuna, Ruwanweliseya is located in Anuradhapura. It is also one of the 16 Places of Veneration (also known as 'Solosmasthana') and one of the 8 places of veneration (also known as 'atamasthana'). Known by a number of names such as 'Swarnamli Chaitya' and 'Rathnamlia Dagaba', Ruwanweliseya is also considered to be one of the tallest monuments in the world.


Sri Pada

Adam's Peak, also known as Sri Pada and Butterfly Mountain, is a conical mountain located in the district of Ratnapura. During the season (January to April), many pilgrims as well as tourists climb the Mountain through the night in order to reach the summit during sunrise. There are six trails through which one can reach the summit and it is the Ratnapura-Palabaddala and Hatton-Nallathanni routes that are the most taken. In addition to the Buddhists, the Muslims, Christians and Hindus also consider the Peak a holy site. Atop the Mountain, one is able to see the Sacred Footprint i.e. the footprint of Lord Buddha.


The Dambulla Rock Temple: Jambukola Vihara

Having been inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1991 by UNESCO, the Dambulla Cave Temple is also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. The cave walls are filled with paintings depicting various events of the life of the Buddha. The Temple hosts five caves including the Cave of the Divine King, the Cave of the Great Kings and the Great New Monastery,