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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 07, 2023
Headline for A Visit to the Most Iconic Site in Kalutara - Discovering the Sacred Kalutara Temple
Joanna James Joanna James
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A Visit to the Most Iconic Site in Kalutara - Discovering the Sacred Kalutara Temple

Kalutara is a laid-back seaside town on the western coast of Sri Lanka closer to Colombo. The sacred temple in Kalutara is among the most important sites of worship for the Buddhists in the country, and is visited by thousands each day!


About Kalutara

The coastal town is a charming place to spend a few days! It is ideally close to Colombo in the Kalutara District. The name is taken from the river Kalu Ganga, which was once an important centre for the spice trade. The city still has remnants of fortifications from the Portuguese era and Dutch invasions. There are many things to do in Kalutara, with beaches not as super packed as some of the more famous beaches on the southern coast.


Best time to visit

There is no special time to visit Kalutara as the weather is generally fair throughout the year, though it can get a bit humid sometimes. With the arrival of the monsoon, one can expect lots of winds, rough seashores, and incessant rains; however, it won't rain every day.


Beginnings of the Kalutara temple

Kalutara Temple is one of the most important places to visit in Kalutara. The temple finished its construction in 1974 and was made on the location of a more ancient temple destroyed by the Portuguese during their period of rule in the coastal areas of the island. Sir Cyril de Zoysa chose the present site of the temple, and planning was conceived by Justin Samarasekera with the collaboration of Dr A. N. S. Kulasinghe. Those visiting the interior will discover a smaller pagoda encircled with Buddha statues. There are four in number, and all are decked in gold. Among the highlights is multiple murals adorning the wall. They are depictions of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva in the form of Jataka Tales. A bodhisattva is a special being who undertakes the arduous task of becoming a Buddha in a future existence.


The Sacred Bo Tree

A section in the Temple is devoted to the hallowed bo tree, the Kalutara Bodhiya. The Bodhi tree, also known as the pippala tree, sits on the opposite side of the temple premises. This bodhi tree originated from the shoots of Anuradhapura, Sri Maha Bodhi. The Sri Maha Bodhi tree is the oldest living tree in the world and is a sapling of the southern branch of the bodhi tree. It is where Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment by meditating under the tree at Bodh Gaya in India. Many thousands of devotees flock here, seeking spiritual guidance, blessings of good merit and help from the bodhi tree in the manner it had served the Lord Buddha.


How to get there

Travelling to Kalutara is easy! The train will be the most enjoyable and convenient method of reaching Kalutara. Trains depart daily from the Fort Rail Way Station in Colombo. If travelling via the southern coast, just get off at the Kalutara station. Buses are frequent as well. Catch a bus headed to Galle and get off at the main bus station in Kalutara. Accommodation is varied here with many places to be found, among them, Anantara Kalutara Resort is quite popular.