WHY CHOOSE SRI LANKA FOR A BUDDHIST TOUR?
Scattered across Sri Lanka, from northern Sri Lanka to the southern tip of the island, thousands of Buddhist temples, stupas, pagodas and image houses serve as places of worship for Buddhist devotees and it also reminds the principles of Buddhism.
Sri Lanka is one of the leading Buddhist nations in the world with a large portion of its inhabitants believing in the teaching of Buddha. Sri Lanka is the home to the two most visited Buddhist temples in the world: the tooth relic temple and Sri Maha Bodhi. Tooth relic and the Sri Maha Bodhi are 2 well documented religiously precious objects and dating back to many thousands of years.
None of the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka holds the historical, religious and symbolic value of the tooth relic temple of Kandy. Which sits in the city of Kandy attracts millions of Buddhist devotees every year from all over the world. The tooth relic temple is one of the eight holy pilgrimage sites for the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka, it is the home to the most sacred left-eye tooth of Buddha, who was born in Nepal in 623BC as Prince Siddhartha Guatama later reached Buddha-hood.
Venturing on a Sri Lanka Buddhist tour is the best way of exploring these two sacred temples along with many historical, well preserved Buddhist temples that sprinkles all around the island. Most Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka are well preserved despite their antiquity and most of them are considered being archaeological masterpieces.
On this Sri Lanka tour, the travellers visit many Buddhist temple and shrines that shows a whole lot of unique characters. Some of the temples harbour hundreds of Buddha statues and paintings with a history that goes back to many millennia. Dambulla cave temple and Polonnaruwa ancient city are two such places that showcase Buddhist temples with huge Buddha statues carved onto the granite stones. There are more than a hundred Buddha statues in the Dambulla golden temple of varying sizes, most of these statues are representing Buddha, while few other statues are built to memorize his disciples, Gods and a King. The statues in Dambulla golden temple showcases different features and different postures. Polonnaruwa is also an important shire with mainly 4 Buddha statues carved out of the natural rock. All 4 Buddha statues are gigantic statues carved by hand after precision measurements. This ancient temple is dating back to the 10th century AD.
SRI LANKA FOR SPIRITUAL TOURS
Almost every religion around the world recognizes the spirituality of travel. According to ancient scriptures, various places carry great significance for the roles they play in different belief systems. Some are the birthplaces of religious leaders, Gods, some are thought to be spiritually cleansed by their religious leader, some are centres of religious leaders and some are simply beautiful places to worship. These destinations, awe-inspiring even to the people in their own religion, draw pilgrims from all corners of the world each year.
This article is about Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, which should be given a prominent place on the Sri Lanka Buddhist tour. The tour operators of Sri Lanka includes most of these places in the regular Sri Lanka temple tours, however few of them do not show up in Sri Lanka temple tours due to a few reasons such as remoteness and lack of availability of facilities required by travellers and poor infrastructure (roads, hotels, restaurants). However, the first six places shown below can be easily reached from Colombo, in fact, those temples are included in most Sri Lanka temple tours.
WHAT ARE THE 10 MOST POPULAR BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE SITES FOR A SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR?
- Temple of the tooth relic
- Sri Maha Bodhi
- Ruwanweliseya Dagoba
- Kataragama temple
- Adam’s peak
- Kelaniya temple
- Mahiyangana temple
- Muthiyangana temple
- Nagadeepa temple
All visitors to these sacred places suppose to dress in a particular manner to uphold their religious values. There is a set of rules that every visitor to religious sites observes while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are? Check this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE AND TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRESS CODE“.
WHAT ARE THE 7 MOST POPULAR BUDDHIST TOURS IN SRI LANKA?
SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
Buddhist temple tours are the most popular form of temple tour on the island. Most of these temple tours in Sri Lanka revolve around Buddhist religious sites. Same time some other temple tours of Sri Lanka are dedicated to the Hindu religion. Most of these religious tours meant for Hindus are named Ramayana tours. Sri Lanka attracts a large number of Buddhist pilgrims from countries such as Thailand and Myanmar.
Most travellers from Thailand book Sri Lanka Buddhist tours in order to visit important Buddhist temples on the island such as Srimaha bodhi, tooth relic temple and Gangarama. The Buddhist tour can be a 1 day Sri Lanka tour to a 10 to 15 days temple tour. However, with a 10 day Sri Lanka temple tour you will be able to visit the most popular and important Buddhist religious places on the island.
In this article, we have considered the ideas given to us by the travellers, who visited these Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. These 10 places were chosen based on reviews received from travellers. Sri Lanka is a leading Buddhist country in the world and attracts a large number of Buddhists pilgrim from all around the world.
7 DAYS SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR IN A NUTSHELL
- Day 01 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Meet and greet by Seerendipity tours representative and drive to Anuradhapura. In the afternoon visit temples in Anuradhapura.
- Day 02 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Anuradhapura /Mihintale / Anuradhapura. After breakfast visits the Mihintale Buddhist temple and later proceed to the hotel in Sigiriya.
- Day 03 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa / Sigiriya. After the breakfast visit Sigiriya rock fortress and temples of Polonnaruwa.
- Day 04 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Polonnaruwa /Dambulla / Kandy. After breakfast leave for Kandy, En-route visit Dambulla golden cave temple.
- Day 05 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After the breakfast sightseeing tour of Kandy and visit tooth relic temple.
- Day 06 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Kandy / Colombo, leisurely breakfast at the hotel and proceed to Colombo, in the afternoon Colombo sightseeing tour and visit Gangarama temple and Kelaniya temple.
- Day 07 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Departure
10 DAYS SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR IN A NUTSHELL
- Day 01 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Meet and greet by Seerendipity tours representative and drive to Anuradhapura. Overnight stay in Anuradhapura.
- Day 02 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After breakfast sightseeing tour of Anuradhapura and witness the important temples. Overnight stay in Anuradhapura.
- Day 03 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Anuradhapura / Mihintale. After breakfast leave for a city tour of Anuradhapura and later visit Mihintale. Overnight stay in Anuradhapura.
- Day 04 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: Breakfast at hotel and leave for Trincomalee. En-route visit Girihandu seya temple and Seruwila Raja maha vihara, later proceed to hotel in Trincomalee. Overnight stay in Trincomalee.
- Day 05 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After Breakfast at the hotel and leave for Kandy. En-route visit Somawathiya Raja Mahavihara temple and Muthiyangana temple. Overnight stay in Kandy.
- Day 06 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After Breakfast sightseeing tour of Kandy and visit the temple of the tooth relic, Natha Devala, International Buddhist museum, Pattini temple and down town Kandy. Overnight stay in Kandy.
- Day 07 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After Breakfast leaves for Sigiriya, en-route visit Dambulla golden temple and Sigiriya rock fortress and spice garden in Matale. Overnight stay in Kandy.
- Day 08 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After Breakfast leaves for Sigiriya, en-route visit Dambulla golden temple and Sigiriya rock fortress and spice garden in Matale. Overnight stay in Kandy. After breakfast leave for a hotel in Kataragama, En-route visit Muthiyangana raja maha vihara, Sita temple and Kataragama temple. Overnight stay in Kataragama.
- Day 09 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After breakfast proceeds to beach hotel in Colombo, En-route visit Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara. Overnight stay in Colombo.
- Day 10 Sri Lanka Buddhist tour: After breakfast leaves for a sightseeing tour of Colombo and visit Gangarama temple and Kelaniya temple. Later proceed to the airport.
Whether it’s a natural, religious attraction or a man-made site, the spiritual journey has long been a form of religious practice. Travelling helps you to refresh your mind and renew the sense of wonder; it is intrinsically closely connected to the idea of self-satisfaction and a deeper connection to the world around us.Anuradhapura is a sacred city and is popular among Buddhists around the world. Anuradhapura is also important as the first capital of Sri Lanka and was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 3rd century BC to the 10th century AD. Today Anuradhapura is mainly an archaeological city and thousands of ruins are scattered on the site. These ruins make a nice picture on the visitors of Anuradhapura about advanced civilization occupied it.
The fascinating ancient ruins of Anuradhapura that are of major interest for the tourist include stupendous bell-shaped Stupas or dagobas, temples, sculptures, palaces, and ancient man-made lakes to provide the water required by the people. Anuradhapura is home to a large number of major historical monuments of Sri Lanka and these monuments are the biggest draw of Anuradhapura that attracts a large number of travellers every year. Anuradhapura is tucked away from Colombo about 205 km north of Colombo and Anuradhapura is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites on the island. Anuradhapura is a sacred city and a leading pilgrimage site among Buddhists around the world.IMPACT OF BUDDHISM IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lankan people are always at the forefront with regard to religious attachment. A majority of Sri Lankans is actively engaged in some form of religious affairs and dedicate some of their precious time to religious activities. Being a multi-religious country Sri Lanka is the home of 4 major religions, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
That said, many sites are still sacred to certain communities, with thousands of years of history and significance attached to them. Yet, as with so many communities that have a deeper spiritual connection, most spiritually significant sites welcome people of all beliefs who are respectful and committed to a deeper understanding.
INTRODUCTION OF BUDDHISM IN SRI LANKA
Buddhism is the oldest religion in the country; which had set its foot in the country in the 6th century BC, Since then Buddhism is absorbed into the life of Sri Lankan people, even today majority of Sri Lankans believes in Buddhism. Today Sri Lanka is a leading Buddhist nation in the world and therefore it has naturally become a leading destination for Buddhist pilgrimage tours. A large number of travellers from countries such as Thailand, India, Japan, China arrives here to visit Buddhist temples on the island.
HINDUISM IN SRI LANKA
There are several Hindu religious hot spots on the island such as Shakthipeetha, Munneswaram, Sita temple etc. The majority of important Hindu religious sites are to be found in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka and most Hindu devotees are concentrated in these areas. Most of the important Hindu religious sites in Sri Lanka are closely connected to Ramayana.
HIGHLY REGARDED RELIGIOUS PLACES
In this article, I like to discuss some highly regarded Buddhist spiritual destinations that one should consider on a trip to Sri Lanka. The majority of leading Sri Lankan religious attractions such as Tooth relic temple, Sri Maha Bodi, Ruwanweli Dagoba are based on Buddhism. Same time there are important religious attractions that belong to other beliefs such as Islam, Christianity as well as Hinduism.
Perhaps your trip to Sri Lanka is not a trip to experience Buddhism, however, it is highly recommended to include these places in your itinerary because they are not only Buddhist religious sites but also important places that reflect the rich cultural and historical heritage of Sri Lanka.
These top ten Buddhist religious sites on the island will help you find a deeper connection of Sri Lankan people to their religion, other people, and to themselves!
TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE-AMONG THE MOST SACRED BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE SITES IN SRI LANKA
In terms of importance, the temple of the tooth relic is the first in the raw, this Buddhist temple resides in the spiritual heart of Sri Lanka known as Kandy. Kandy has a fascinating blend of old and new and here the travellers are able to see historical attractions, medieval buildings and modern tourist attractions. Tooth relic temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island and houses the left eye tooth of Buddha. The temple is conveniently located at the heart of Kandy city near Kandy Lake and the city is dripping in chaos and colour.
SRI MAHA BODHI-ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE SITES IN ANURADHAPURA
Sri Maha Bodhi (ficus religiosa) is the second in the raw in terms of religious importance, which is a tree belonging to the ficus family, Sri Maha Bodhi had set its foot on the island in the 2nd century BC, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. Today it resides in the sacred city of Anuradhapura, in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
VISITING RUWANWELI STUPA ON A SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
The foundation stone for the Dagoba or Stupa was laid by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC. This semi-circular dome-shaped building is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists on the island. Ruwanweliseya is one of the major tourist hotspots in Anuradhapura and is included in most Sri Lanka tour packages. Ruwanweliseya and Sri Maha Bodhi are residing next to each other in Anuradhapura sacred city. The Dagoba is 150 feet in height and has 379 feet in diameter.
VISITING KATARGAMA ON SRI LANKA PILGRIMAGE TOURS
Kataragama is visited by Buddhist, Hindu as well as Islam devotees. Kataragama Devala is the most important quarter of the temple complex, which is dedicated to God Kataragama or Murugan and is found right behind the main entrance. The temple complex accommodates separate quarters for other religions. One of the most important Buddhist temples known as Kirivehera is to be found in the backyard of Kataragama Devala while a mosque is located towards the northern end of the temple premises.
IMPORTANCE OF ADAMS PEAK FOR BUDDHISTS
A world-renowned hiking trail, this has been a Buddhist religious site for many centuries and historical pieces of evidence suggest that Adams peak was visited by Chinese monk Fahian in the 2nd century BC, who was on a mission to study Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Adam’s peak is not only a Buddhist pilgrimage site but also a major religious site for Hindus, Islam as well as Catholics.
Adams peak is one of the most visited religious sites on the island. The footprint of Buddha was set on the pinnacle of the mountain in the 6th century BC, upon Buddha’s visit to the island. The Buddhist claim that the footprint to be found on top of the mountain is belonging to Buddha. However, other religions have their own explanation with regards to the origin of the footprint.
VISITING FOOTPRINT OF BUDDHA: SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
According to Hindus, the footprint belongs to God Shiva and According to Islam, it is the point where Adam landed while Catholics believe the footprint belongs to St.Tomas. During the middle ages and after it gained popularity not only as a pilgrimage trip but also as an adventure to experience the rich natural wealth of the island, due to the extensive virgin rainforest around it.
TREKKING TO ADAMS PEAK
Today, local spiritual seekers and hiking enthusiasts from all around the world gather here during the pilgrims season from November to April to experience a hike on one of the longest trails in the world. Adam’s peak trek lasts about 5 hours and the trekkers have to dedicate around 3 hours for the downward walk. Usually, this moonlight hike starts around midnight and culminates in reaching the pinnacle of the mountain. The rewards for the tiring hike are the 360° breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle and the gorgeous sunrise.
While there are two major Sri Lanka travel routes to reach the summit, the most popular one begins in Hatton while the other route starts in Ratnapura. The route starts in Ratnapura demands more physical and mental energy and it consumes more time to reach the summit compared to other routes.
VISITING KELANIYA TEMPLE ON A SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
Kelaniya is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples on the island and is included in most Sri Lanka Buddhist tours, furthermore, it is one of the few places where Buddha presented himself and therefore it is given a very prominent place in the Buddhist world.
Paddy heap shaped Stupa of Kelaniya temple is regarded as an important Stupa, it is believed a gem stoned studded throne is enshrined in the Stupa. The gemstone studded throne had been the reason for disagreement between two factions, leading to a battle. Having foreseen the magnitude of the damage that occurs if the battle takes place, Buddha had visited the east coast of Sri Lanka and met the leaders of two tribes about to battle and settle the dispute. The temple is located near the commercial capital “Colombo” of Sri Lanka.
SRI LANKA PILGRIMAGE TOURS AND VISITING MIHINTALE
Mihintale considered being the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and part of the most Sri Lanka Buddhist tour. Usually, Mihintale included Anuradhapura, which had been a Buddhist city in ancient times. Sri Lankan king Dutugemunu, who embraced Buddhism in the 2nd century BC, met monk Mahinda at this place, before he was, converted to Buddhism. Today Mihintale is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the country, and it is flooded with devotees on full moon day of June as they celebrate the advent of Buddhism on the island.
VISITING MAHIYANGAN TEMPLE: SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
The temple lies 250 km away from the city of Colombo and the drive might take up to 5 hours. Mahiyangana temple is also dedicated to Buddhism and it is one of the most sacred Buddhist religious institutions on the island due to the fact that it was visited by Buddha. The temple is visited by a large number of local Buddhist devotees, however, the number of foreign travellers that visit the Mahiyangana temple is a fraction of the number of local travellers as it is located in a remote area. Visiting the Mahiyangana temple demand you to spend many hours travelling through the countryside.
VISITING MUTHIYANGANA TEMPLE ON A SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
Muthiyangana temple better known as Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is another popular Buddhist temple visited by many thousands of devotees every year. Muthiyangana temple is not a popular tourist attraction; therefore you might not encounter many foreign tourists here except Indian travellers. The history of the temple goes back to many thousand years and it is a temple that has a close relationship with Ramayana.
VISITING NAGADEEPA TEMPLE ON SRI LANAK TEMPLE TOUR
Nagadeepa is another Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, where Buddha presented himself in the 6th century BC, due to this reason Nagadeepa is one of the very popular pilgrimage sites among Buddhists in Sri Lanka. However, this temple is not included in most Sri Lanka Buddhist tours as you have to cover many extra miles demanding you to spend a lot of time and money to visit it.
FULL MOON DAY
Every full moon day or Poya day is a public holiday on the island. The day is reserved for Buddhist religious activities. On the full moon day, Buddhists are gathering in the nearby Buddhist temple and engage in religious activities throughout the day.
SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR AND LEARN BUDDHISM
Sri Lanka offers plenty of opportunities for people, who are interested in studying Buddhism. Sri Lanka had been a leading centre of the teaching of Buddhism since the very early days. There is a large number of Buddhist teaching centres, even today, providing the possibility of studying this religion and related subjects. Universities such as Buddhist and Pali University provides an opportunity for higher studies as well as short courses on Buddhism and related subjects. A large number of Pirivenas and Buddhist temples provides the opportunity to study the teaching of Buddha.
MEDITATING: SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
Meditation centres on the island provide the possibility of learning and practising meditation. There are large numbers of meditation centres dedicated to people, who wish to practice the different types of meditations. Most of these meditation centres are managed by Buddhist monks. The duration of meditation courses may expand from several days to several months depending on the requirement and progress.
ACCOMMODATION FOR THE SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR
Some of the leading Buddhist temples provide accommodation facilities for pilgrims coming from remote areas. These accommodations can be obtained for a very reasonable price. Normally the temples provide only lodging and food has to be arranged elsewhere.
SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TOUR AND BUDDHIST PUBLICATIONS
Most of the educated monks in Sri Lanka can converse in English. There are several monks, who are also very proficient in other popular languages such as French, German, Russian and Italy. If you need to learn Buddhism in a language other than English, you have to find a proper place before arriving in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist publications can be obtained in national languages as well as English. Most of the books shops in cities such as Colombo and Kandy distribute the English version of most Buddhist publications.
SRI LANKA HINDU PILGRIMAGE TOURS
Apart from Sri Lanka temple tours with Buddhist religious sites, the other most popular Sri Lanka temple tours are dedicated to the Hindu religion. Even though Sri Lanka has only a minor community with Hinduism as their religion, Sri Lanka is being a country for Hindu pilgrims for many centuries. It is mainly due to the Ramayana. According to the Ramayana, Ravana had been the King of Sri Lanka, and he had abducted Sita and she was held captive in the region called Nuwara Eliya. Today Nuwara Eliya is part of most Sri Lanka temple tours organized for Hindu pilgrims.
RAMAYANA: SRI LANKA PILGRIMAGE TOURS
The Sri Lanka temple tour dedicated to Hindu pilgrims is called Ramayan tours because these Hindu temple tours of Sri Lanka mainly include places mentioned in Ramayana. Ramayana temple tour is very popular among travellers from India and some of the most popular places on Ramayan tours are Shakthipeetha, Sita Amman temple, Ashoikk Vatika, hanuman temple.