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Updated by Joanna James on May 29, 2020
Headline for Five wonderful temples to visit in Sri Lanka – Discover the Ancient Heritage of an Island Nation.
Joanna James Joanna James
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Five wonderful temples to visit in Sri Lanka – Discover the Ancient Heritage of an Island Nation.

Sri Lanka is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean not only for its beauty but also for its ancient legacy. Many temples built by the past kings epitomize the unique traditions and the rich heritage of the island nation. Here are five of the most scenic temples in Sri Lanka.


Gangaramaya Temple

Founded by venerable Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Thero in the late 19th century, the Gangaramaya temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in the capital city of Sri Lanka. Its architecture reminisces on the Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Thai influences. The Gangaramaya temple of Colombo is more than a place of worship. With a vast collection of statues and artefacts with historical significance, it also acts as a place of cultural value. The temple is also known for its vocational training centre.


Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Known as Sri Dalanda Maligawa in the native language, this sacred temple holds a special place in the hearts of every Buddhist in the country. It is located in the famous city of Kandy, which was also an ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka. It is believed that whoever has the tooth relic holds the governance of the country. In this iconic temple, religious rituals are performed by monks three times per day. The Kandy Esala Perahera or the Festival of the Tooth is held each year to pay homage to this sacred relic of Lord Buddha.


Cave Temple in Dambulla

The Cave Temple in Dambulla is one of the largest and the best-preserved of its kind in Sri Lanka. It is a world heritage site situated in the Central Province of the country. It is stated that the primitives of the country have lived in these caves, until the arrival of Buddhism. The skeletons discovered in the surrounding areas such as Ibbankatuwa have enabled the archaeologists to unveil this important fact from the ancient times. The cave containing the temple towers almost 160 metres over the other caves of the premises. The main attractions of the site are spread over five caves, which include 160 statues of Lord Buddha and other gods and goddesses.



Constructed in 140 BC by King Dutugamunu, Ruwanweliseya lies in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. According to legend, a tree deity called Swarnamali has agreed to remove her dwelling from the tree, which obstructed the construction of this temple. Thus, Ruwanweliseya is also named as the Swarnamali Chaithya as promised to the deity. Many tourists from near and far visit this beautiful white stupa every year. Ruwanweliseya belongs to the eight places of veneration and 16 places of veneration, which are known as atamasthaana and solosmasthaana in the local language, respectively.


Kataragama Temple

Also known as the Ruhunu Kataragama Devaalaya in the native language, it is a temple complex in the Southern part of the country dedicated to the Guardian Deity of the Buddhists and the Hindu War God. It is a unique heritage site that is revered by pilgrims belonging to various religions of the country. The best way to visit this sacred location is to acquire the services of native tour guides that offer cultural tours in Sri Lanka. Plan your itinerary with specialists of the industry such as SoulTrek Sri Lanka

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