Gangaramaya Temple – Colombo
Gangaramaya is one of Colombo's most beloved Buddhist temples, started by the famous scholar-monk Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thero in the late 19th Century.
After the Venerable Sri Sumangala, his chief pupil Devundera Sri Jinaratana Nayake Thera took on the administration of the temple. It was he who laid the organisation to convert the little temple to an institute of global reckoning.
The following chief incumbent was the Ven. Devundara Keerthi Sri Sumangala Jinaratana Vacissara Thero, the teacher of the Ven. Galboda Gnanissara led to make the Gangaramaya what it is today: much more than a temple in the general term, but a house of worship, a place of learning, and a social centre.
A Cultural Extravaganza
Unlike traditional Sri Lankan temples, Gangaramaya Temple offers a vibrant and bustling ambience that immediately captures visitors' attention. The temple's architecture is a fascinating fusion of various artistic styles, including Sri Lankan, Chinese, Thai, Burmese, and more. As you approach the temple, you are greeted by an exterior adorned with elaborate designs and golden embellishments. The temple grounds, covered in black slate tiles, feature an array of beautiful statues, including representations of Buddha, lions, nymphs, and china vases placed artfully throughout the area.
An Architectural Marvel
As you enter the temple, two majestic golden Buddha statues stand tall, acting as guardians at the entrance to the main sanctuary. The craftsmanship of the temple is evident in the intricate wood carvings that adorn the doors, depicting elephants and swans, reminiscent of Sri Lanka's ancient artistry. The main sanctuary envelops you in a sense of tranquillity with its soft yellow hues. It houses a colossal Buddha statue in a meditation pose, flanked by statuettes of celestial beings. The ceilings are adorned with enchanting pastel paintings depicting Buddhist stories, while the columns showcase breathtaking traditional Sri Lankan art. Devotees dressed in white pass through the sanctuary, offering colourful lotuses to the Buddha before proceeding to the courtyard to light oil lamps and burn incense. The yard features a stepped wall adorned with stone statues of the Buddha and stupas, creating a serene atmosphere. The Bodhi tree and the coral-white stupa's yard provide peaceful spaces for contemplation.
A Museum of Wonders
One of the highlights of Gangaramaya Temple is its treasure-filled museum, housing an extensive collection of Buddha statues from various parts of the world. Alongside these statues, visitors can marvel at sculptures of Hindu gods, old watches, Dutch coins, and an array of antique collectibles. The museum proudly showcases the most diminutive Buddha statue on the island, meticulously displayed in a glass box, inviting visitors to examine its intricate details with a magnifying glass. Many of the dazzling trinkets and ornaments in the museum are gifts from devotees to the temple's revered head monk, Ven: Galaboda Gnanissara Thero is a well-known figure in Sri Lanka's religious community. The museum is also a testament to Gnanissara Thero's travels, featuring souvenirs and artifacts he has collected worldwide. Notably, the collection includes a hip Buddha statuette sporting sunglasses. Additionally, visitors can admire Gnanissara Thero's collection of antique cars, including vintage Rolls-Royces and Mercedes, among which the first-ever Mercedes in Sri Lanka holds a special place.
An Inclusive Place of Worship
Gangaramaya Temple welcomes visitors of all faiths, reflecting its inclusive nature and commitment to promoting cultural understanding and harmony. So whether you seek spiritual solace, architectural marvels, or a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, a visit to Gangaramaya Temple is an enriching experience not to be missed.
Gangaramaya Temple Dress Code
When visiting Gangaramaya Temple, it is advisable to dress modestly and respectfully. While there is no strict dress code, it is recommended to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. As a place of worship, it is essential to dress sensibly and respect the temple and its cultural significance.
Gangaramaya Temple offers a captivating blend of architectural splendour, cultural diversity, and spiritual significance, making it a must-visit destination in Colombo for locals and tourists alike.