Established by Vikramabahu III of Gampola during his reign, Kandy is an ancient Sri Lankan city. Located in the south central part of the island, the city features some of the ancient Buddhist temples and shrines dating back to 18th century.
Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, Kandy is an apt destination to explore Buddhist culture and tradition. Here are some of the most well-known tourist attractions of the city.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Located close to Udawattakele Sanctuary, The Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most prominent shrines in Sri Lanka. Also known as Dalada Maligawa, the popular site houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. A popular tradition of the temple is the chanting of prayers and hymns by a dedicated group of priests and monks three times a day within the temple complex. Also, every Wednesday, a holy symbolic bath of the relic in scented water is done and the water is distributed among the crowd. It is believed that this water possesses healing powers.
World Buddhist Museum
Nestled inside the former High Court building, World Buddhist Museum is a famous attraction in Kandy. The museum is home to numerous pictures, photographs, models and illustrations depicting various stages of Buddhism in the country. It is the relics of Buddha, the beautifully crafted painted images which attracts visitors and tourists from across the world. Interestingly, the construction of the museum was a joint effort by 17 Asian countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, China, Korea, Malaysia, Bhutan, India and Afghanistan.
Aluvihara Rock Temple
Also known as Matale Alu Viharaya, Aluvihara Rock Temple is a popular temple located in the Matale district of Sri Lanka. Built during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, the ancient temple houses some of the most beautiful paintings and depictions of Buddha. The temple was the location, where the Pali Canon was first written down completely in text on palm leaves. The reclining statue of Buddha, the arch of dragon, and a painting depicting the hell and the heaven are most popular among the visitors.
Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara
Situated in the heart of Badulla, Muthiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is another ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Believed to have been built by King Devanampiya Tissa, the popular site is regarded as one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 sacred places) in the country. As per Hindu mythological texts, the war between Rama and Rawana (Ramayana) took place near the site. Popular attractions within the structure include thorana (pandol), Makara thorana, image house, The Stupa Bo Tees (bodhi trees).
Built after the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Thuparamaya is one of the oldest stupas on the island. Built by King Devanapiyatissa, the popular site consists of relics, inscriptions and testimonies written and maintained by Buddha. At the time of its discovery, the site was used as a residential complex for Bhikkhus (monks).
Located in a small hamlet called Kandaroda, Kadurugoda Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Constructed during the Anuradhapura era, the site was discovered by a famous historian P.E. Pieris in 1917. At the time of its discovery there were 56 stupas with remains and relics of Buddha.