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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for Top 4 Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka- The Island with more than 2000 years of history in Buddhism
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 4 Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka- The Island with more than 2000 years of history in Buddhism

After the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd Century BCE, to this date, it's the religion of the majority. There are many monasteries, but here are a few.


Arankele Monastery

Located in the Kurunegala District, about 117km away from the island's capital Colombo is a serene forest monastery. These have a few natural rock caves that functioned as recluses for many monks due to its isolated location. Though the outer appearance of these caves looks intimidating, the inside of the caves is plastered with lime.
At the entrance of the monastery, you would find a large hot water Pond measuring 100feet in length and 60 feet in breadth. There are many ruins that have been revealed to be sites of meditation and there are grinding stones that were used to make herbal medicines during the ancient times. The many numbers of grinding stones present suggest that there was an ayurvedic hospital within the monastery.
The architecture of this monastery is minimalistic and simple without any extravagant decorations.


Madakada (nachchimale)

Situated 40 km away from Colombo, in Kalutara, this is one of many monasteries found in the area. As this district is currently an upcoming resort town, you will have no trouble finding hotels in Kalutara, should you decide to stay a bit longer.
This monastery is situated among lush rainforests that span across 400 hectares. The peaceful greenery and rivers flowing through make it a serene destination. Though the monastery was built during the 1940s, this has been a centre of Buddhism for many years before. It has been said, that Lord Buddha himself had preached here.
A famous river in Sri Lanka called the "Kalu Ganga" which translates into Black River runs through this city which is home to Gedara and also through another monastery called the Bodhinagala Forest Hermitage.


Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Having been founded only in 1999, this is a relatively new Monastery in Sri Lanka. It was founded by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero, whose main purpose was to teach and spread the original teachings, the Supreme Dhamma, of Lord Buddha, in a simpler and easier to understand manner. It welcomes everyone, regardless of their background, to learn the ancient teachings.
Currently, there are more than 650 monks and 100 Anagarika nuns and some 1000 disciples who are practising the Dhamma. There are more than 70 branches of Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monasteries in many countries like India, Canada, United Kingdom and more.



This is one of the most renowned Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka and was built during the 2nd BC by King KavantissaIt is nestled in the middle of Yala National Park, 18km further from the Katharagama, the popular pilgrimage town. The name of this temple means "hill of the quiet mind". It has been told that during the ancient times, it was occupied by more than 10,000 enlightened Buddhist Monks, also called "Arhants".
The monastery has many archaeological ruins of Buddha statues from over a 2200 years and paintings that date back to the Anuradhapura era.