The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most famous and important temples found in Colombo. It is a unique site which holds both historical and religious significance to the island’s populace and should be high up on your list when planning to tour through Colombo.
The story goes that Don Bastian – a shipping merchant of much renown – brought a piece of land from 3 Moors and went about constructing a temple with his great personal wealth. The temple would go one to be called the Gangaramaya and it would be complete with all the major structures expected of a grand temple. Here, a great stupa was constructed along with a decorative arch to adorn it, a moonstone modelled after those from Anuradhpura was carved at its entrance. Finally, a sapling from the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya was planted on the temple grounds alongside the construction of a three-storied preaching hall.
For those visiting the temple today, the most striking feature of Gangaramaya is the variety and intricacy of the architecture on display. The temples design and constructions drew inspiration from Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese origins. One of the most notable structures within the temple the Simamalaka Shrine. This resplendent construction work was designed by the legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa, under the sponsorship of a wealthy Muslim donor. Over the years, the temple has served as the refuge of several prominent Sri Lankan scholars, including Ratmalana Sri Dharmarama Thero, Waskaduwa Sri Subhuti Thero, Weligama Sri Sumangala Thero, Welivitiye Dhammaratna Thero, and Pandit Batuwantudawe.
Nowadays, many Buddhist flock to the temple daily to pay their respects and offer tribute. However, the temple is not only a place of worship, but one of earning as well. Here many programs exist which teach the country’s youth about the principles of religious harmony and cultural togetherness. The Gangaramaya is also involved in a number of welfare projects that seek to improve the living conditions of the impoverished. You can learn about all this and more during your visit to the amazing temple.