Golden Temple of Polgahawela is situated in the North-central province of Sri Lanka. You might feel like been to a Buddhist temple in Thailand because it looks a lot different than usual Sri Lankan temples. The entire temple is lavishly decorated with gold colour, this is somewhat unusual to Sri Lankan devotees, and however, the temple is visited by a large number of Sri Lankan Buddhist people.
The golden cave temple of Polgahawela is the main branch of Mahamevnawa temple network, which comprised of 40 Buddhist temples. A large number of temples belong to Mahamevnawa temple network are located in Sri Lanka while branches are to be found in foreign countries such as India, USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Dubai, South Korea, Germany and Italy. About 700 hundred monks are practising the teaching of Buddha at Mahamevnawa temples.
The entire temple is in gold colour and most statues are coloured with either yellow or gold. The temple is beautifully designed and stands away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is a temple includes in most Sri Lanka road trips undertaken by local people, because this is purely a religious site and has no important historical value.
It can be easily reached from Colombo-Anuradhapura main road. Therefore the temple is often visited by travellers who are on a pilgrimage tour to Anuradhapura from Colombo. Perhaps it might not be that much wise to heading to Polgahawela only to visit this temple, especially if you are from a faraway city like Colombo, however, if you are a passerby don’t forget to visit this temple, it is bit different than most Sri Lanka temple but worth visiting.
Polgahawela is neither popular holiday destination nor a place with important attractions. Even the Golden Temple is not more than a couple of years old. We arrived in Polgahawela on a very sunny day. I believe, the temple would be very unusual for Sinhalese Buddhist, and I got the feeling that it has a lot of similarities to temples found in countries such as Thailand and China. Anyway, the temple is pouring with devotees and almost all of them are devotees from far away destinations from Polgahawela.
The temple is very modern, but it has received very wide popularity within a very short period of time. It can be due to the fact, that temple follows the totally different style than the most other temples on the island. The temple looks like a palace, which covered with gold from the distance. Virtually every element of the temple is painted with gold colour.
Even though Maahamewnawa is new to the country, it has been able to attract the attention of Sri Lankan people, because it helps the people in many ways for their spiritual development. The temple administration regularly organizes various events such as Buddhist sermons and Meditation program, all these events are funded by the temple and devotees are not charged for anything. The temple could be an excellent novice experience for non-Sri Lankan visitors because it is totally free for foreigners as well.
Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the temple. I was asked to switch off my mobile phone and camera by the instructors of the temple. Visitors get a brief description of the statues in the temple at the entrance. There are three Buddha statues in the main hall of golden temple and they are in meditation, standing and reclining postures. All three images are in magnitude size and painted with bright gold colour.
The temple is decorated with a large number of sculptures in varying sizes. All the sculptures are fixed on to the outer wall of the temple. The beautiful sculptures include statues of Buddhist monks, figures of people, sculptures of animals, and floral designs. There are various floral decorations inside and outside of the temple but almost all of them are synthetic flowers. Therefore, here you do not feel the scent of flowers as usual Buddhist temples.
The golden temple can be explored in a one-day excursion from Colombo and most of the holiday resorts in Sri Lanka. Allocating 1 hour to explore the temple on the way to Anuradhapura or vice versa is definitely a good idea in order to save extra time needed for the journey from Colombo. It was the highlight of the last day of our trip to Anuradhapura. We visited the temple on our return journey to Colombo and we did not have any important visits along the way. Therefore we had plenty of time to have a leisurely look at this beautiful temple. If you like to visit a temple with a totally different style, the Golden temple of Polgahwela could be the most suitable place for you.
If you are addicted to reading visit the bookstore next to the main building of the temple. It has a very interesting collection of books, magazines, posters, CD’s and DVD’s but all of them share the teaching of Buddha.