Gangarama is a Buddhist temple and one of the leading attractions in the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The temple is included in most road trips of Sri Lanka. Gangarama is located in the heart of Colombo and includes in most Colombo city tours. It is picturesquely located bordering Beira Lake, the largest lake in Colombo. Gangarama had been a small Buddhist construction in the 1800’s. It was started by a disciple of popular scholar monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera. The disciple who constructed the temple was called Sri Jinaratana Thera. If you have booked a Sri Lanka tour itinerary with Colombo sightseeing tour, then you will not miss this gorgeous temple in the heart of the city.
The temple has an interesting collection of Buddha statues and god figures from Buddhist countries around the world. Therefore, Gamgarama Buddhist temple is not only a place to see traditional Sri Lanka Buddha statues but also the Buddha done in various other styles and postures.
The visitors of the temple are welcome by Makara thorana or dragon arch, at the main entrance of the temple premises. The beautiful dragon arch at the entrance of the temple is beautifully decorated with various incidents of Buddha’s life.
Perhaps the image house is the most attractive compartment in the temple. The visitors come to the image house after entering the temple through Makara thorana. At the centre of the image, the house is a huge meditating Buddha statue. This modern statue is accompanied by several other statues, on either side of it. The wall paintings of the image house are depicting various sceneries pertaining to the life of Buddha and Buddhism of Sri Lanka. These paintings belong to the school of modern arts.
The dagoba of Gangarama is not built in a magnitude size but it is well maintained. Bo-tree of Gangarama is placed on an elevated platform, and the platform is about 2 meters in height. The devotees need to go up on a flight of steps in order to worship the tree. Another interesting spot of the temple is the twenty-eight image chambers that located next to the Boo-tree. Twenty-eight image chambers and relic chamber are also some of the most important attractions of Gangarama Buddhist temple. Large collections of rare books written in various subjects and languages are safely deposited in the museum. One needs to get the permission of the monks before entering the museum.
Apart from the main building described above, of Gangarama temple near Braybrook place, there is another interesting part of the temple known as Simamalaka near Sir James Peiris Mawatha, at the centre of Beira Lake. These two parts of the temple are located about 500 meters away from each other. Simamalaka is a chapter house and it follows the ancient Sri Lanka architecture. It was used for the purpose of meditation by the resident monks. The chapter house was built in 1976. Chapterhouse was a gift for the monks of Gangarama by Mr and Mrs Moosagee, who were non-Buddhists. The building was designed by veteran architect Geoffrey Bawa. There are several Buddha statues with historical value in the chapter house. Next to the chapter house are a Bo-tree and a Buddha statue under the canopy of the Bo-tree. There are several other figures representing Wishnu, Ganesh, Skanda and Sunium gods outside of the chapter house.
Nawam maha Perehera
The temple comes to fore in every year in the month of February, as the most beautiful pageant of Colombo parade on the streets of the city. The procession is held on the full moon day of February and called Nawam Maha Perahera. The procession is organized in honour of relic as well as a rainmaking ceremony. The day is especially renewing the memory of Arahath Sariyuth and Mugallan, who were the chief disciples of Buddha. Earlier the procession was held in the month of July. Later it was abandoned due to various reasons. The present procession was started after a brief period of interval under the direction of former president Hon Ranasinghe Premadasa.
A large collection of rare and valuable antiques can be discovered in the temple. Antique vehicles, old computers, antique furniture, jewellery, ornaments and many ancient artistic works are among the collection. A museum with a large number of statues, precious stones and ivories attract the attention of all visitors of Gangarama.