Sri Lanka is a mishmash of religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity coexist side-by-side, door-to-door. It’s easy to cross a mosque or a Hindu temple, not to mention the stupas lurking among the vegetation.
On my trip to Sri Lanka, the Buddhist temples were just captivating, especially these three places of worship, fascinating in their form and history.
Buddhism Peace Pagoda, Galle
This temple caught my eye when I visited the Galle Fort. In the middle of the vegetation, on the other side of the bay, a white dome stood out in the green of the mountain.
Following the road towards Unawatuna and after a few indications I arrived at the Rumassala Peace Pagoda. This peace symbol of Buddhism was born at the hands of Japanese monks in 2005. These religious have the mission to build temples in places marked by war, as was the case at the time it was constructed.
Entry into the temple is free. But it’s fair to leave a donation to the monks in one of the boxes at the entrance.
Cave Temples, Dambulla
This complex of temples are 160 meters high, so be prepared to climb some steps.
Embedded in stone, this place gathers five caves that hold about 150 Buddha statues. We can also see several paintings considered to be some of the most important in Sri Lanka.
According to history, the earliest figures were brought there 2,000 years ago, and later successive rulers contributed to the growth of the collection and, of course, the temple.
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Entry into this space is free. But be prepared to pay to store your shoes or for a sarong if you are in smaller shorts.
We also chose to hire one of the guides that offer their services right at the entrance. But, I confess, the complexity of the names and the somewhat scuffed English of our guide made it hard to see the explanations in the whole.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy
Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka but it is also where we find the Temple of the Sacred Tooth … “Sacred Tooth?” … yes, it’s true. The story goes that after the funeral of Buddha, in 482 b.C., a tooth was found in the ashes of the cremation. The relic entered Sri Lanka in the 17th century. First, remaining in the old city of Anuradhapura, but throughout the history of the country, it changed location, because it was believed that those who held the tooth had the power.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth was built at the end of the 19th century. Buddhists believe that a pilgrimage to this place should be made at least once in lifetime contributing to good karma.
So be prepared to pay entrance and find a rather busy complex. Especially in the main room, which holds the sacred tooth, during puja (prayer and offerings).
Although we don’t get to see the relic, since it is stored inside a golden stupa, the atmosphere in this place is remarkable.
Discovering Buddhism in Sri Lanka
I leave you with a scent of the visit to these three temples.
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