Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara or Kelaniya Temple is one of the most venerated historic Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka, located 10 Kilometers to the northeast of Colombo. Regarded as the most exquisite example of the sculptor's art, the Kelaniya Temple is believed to have been built in the Anuradhapura era with an eventful history that dates 2500 years back. The temple arena was designated as an archaeological monument in 2008. Being a precise introduction to Buddhist history in Sri Lanka, this center is also noted for hosting major Buddhist celebrations in the country. Perched on the top of a small mound adjacent to the river Kelani, this worth-seeing temple holds stunning panoramic views for the hoards of tourists visiting this pilgrimage center near Colombo.
Stretching over an area of 10 acres, the Kelaniya Temple Area has been encircled by a number of parks and gardens. The architecture of the temple is largely modeled on typical South Indian style gently incorporating the motifs from local Sinhalese culture. The temple mainly consists of four main sections. The first section is the Golden Buddha Image House that has several paintings representing the life of Buddha and scenes from his journey to Sri Lanka. New Temple House, the second section, is a restored building based on the former edifice. The King's Image House and the Recline Buddha Image House are the three and four. An overwhelming stupa of 90 feet hight painted in white is a major attraction here.
Kelaniya Temple in Colombo was possibly built during the age of Anuradhapura Kingdom. The island folklores lend this place a huge significance as a place of Buddhist worship. According to the Buddhist lore, the temple was blessed by lord Buddha during his final visit to the country, supposedly taken place in 500 BC. It is said Buddha preached his sermon standing on a gem-studded throne which had been here inside the premises. As of the unpleasant history of colonial period, during the civil war period in 16th century, the Portuguese stepped up and messed with the temple by confiscating much of its wealth and even attacked the temple leaving causing several destructions. The temple met some serious delapidation by the advent of the Dutch.
In the 18 th century, King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, the ruler of the kingdom of Kandy, who was an ardent Buddhist devotee took on the Dutch and destroyed many of its forts. Under his leadership, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara was rebuilt in the 1750s.
The Kelaniya Temple is located just less than 10 Kilometers (6 miles) from Colombo. The transportation to here is easier and available in plenty. If driving your own cab, you need to take the A1 Highway requiring to take Biyagama Rd/B214 halfway. It shall take you around 40 minutes to reach.The Kelaniya Railway Station is located near to the Colombo-Kandy Road providing rail connections with the rest of Sri Lanka.