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Kelaniya Temple


Kelaniya Temple Dageba-Kelaniya Temple

The Ancient Buddhist Temple nearest to Colombo City

 

Being just seven miles from Colombo, Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is the most sought after Temple for the Buddhists in and around Colombo. On the Eighth year after the Enlightenment, the Lord Buddha has visited this sacred site, which had been the Third and the last visit to Sri Lanka by the Gauthama Buddha.

Situated on the banks of Kelani River, which is originating from Sri Pada , makes this Temple surroundings attractive for the devotees who come to worship this hallowed land.

The original Temple and the Stupa or the Dageba, was built in 5th Century BC, but none of the earlier structure survive today.

Mentioned in the Sri Lankan chronicle"Chulavansa" is that, the Kelaniya Temple was five stories high with traditional styling and roofing. It also states that the temple was rebuilt by King Vijayabahu III, (1232-1236) and King Parakrama Bahu II (1236-1270).

In 1510 AD , the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese, who had then conquered the Maritime provinces of the country.

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Lower Courtyard, Entrance Arches and Kelani River

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

 

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

Historically, Kelaniya is older than the great cites of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. When Lord Buddha first visited Mahiyanganaya, Sri Lanka , after the 9th month of the Enlightenment, Maniakkitha, the Naga King of Kelaniya was one of the kings who has come there to pay homage, the Mahawamsa states.

It is described in the chronicles that the ancient Stupa first built at Kelaniya enshrined a gem-studded throne on which the Buddha preached the sermons to the Maniakkitha, the Naga king, on whose invitation the Buddha had visited.

in 1769 AD , the temple was reconstructed by the patronage of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe. There are paintings belonging to Kandyan period , showing Jathaka stories .There is a large gold plated reclining Buddha Image in the Image house.

A Gem studded seat is enshrined in this Dageba. The Gauthama Buddha who visited Sri Lanka for the Third time is said to be preached Dhamma to the Naga kings seated on this Gem studded seat. The height of the Dageba is presently about 90 feet.

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The Stupa ( Dageba ) at Kelaniya Temple

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Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple

The Dageba or the Stupa at Kelani Viharaya is called by the names ' Kalyani Chaithyaya' and 'Kelani Seya'. Embedded inside the Stupa is the gem studded chair or the carpet that Lord Buddha made the sermons sitting on , to Chulodara and Mahodara Naga Kings and the followers during the Third visit of the Lord Buddha. The shape of this 90 feet high Stupa is called 'Dhanyakara' or 'the shape of a rice grain heap'. This Dageba had been renovated several times by kings Uttiya,Yatalatissa and the Parakramabahu IX. This has been built at the place where the Lord Budda and the Arahath Bikkus had stayed.

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Sri Lankan sculptures on the Modern Image House [1946 AD] outer Walls

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Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

There are four sections in the Kelaniya Temple building.They are called 'Raja Pilima Ge', or the King's Image House, 'Oth Pilima Ge' or the Reclined Buddha Image House, ' Aluth Vihara Ge' or the New Temple House and the ' Ran Pilima Ge' or the Golden Buddha Image House.

The images appearing above are of the 'Aluth Vihara Ge' or the New Temple House section of the kelani Viharaya.

The Image house is built on a stone plinth 3 feet high and measures 150 feet in length and 90 feet in width. This new Image House was built under the patronage of Helena Wijewardene which was initiated in 1927 and completed in 1946.

The kandyan era paintings are housed in two chambers and in good condition.

Other than the Kandyan era paintings, there are some what beautiful modern paintings which were done during 1927-1946 by the famous artist Soliyas Mendis.

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Sri Lankan sculptures on the Modern Image House [1946 AD] Inner Walls

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

 

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Kandyan era Paintings - in two 18th Century Hall Areas

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Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

 

Above images are of the 'Raja Pilima Ge' or King's Image House. The Image of King Maniakkitha with a sword in his hand is sculptured here. The oldest paintings of Kelani Vihare is found in this section.These Paintings of Kandyan era consists of seven Jataka Stories ,namely the Vessantara,Telapatta, Dahamsonda, Maha Seelava,Dammapala, Mahakanna and Sama.

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Reclined Buddha Image House of the Gauthama Buddha - 'Oth Pilima Ge'

lick on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

There are two image houses with Buddha images. The 'Oth Pilima Ge' or the House of the The reclined Buddha image is the oldest section of the entire temple. The reclined Buddha image is very large and believed to be of the Kandyan era sculpture. There are two seated Buddha images at the left side of the image house.There is a seated Buddha image in the other image house called the 'Ran Pilima Ge' with the backgroundof the snow crested Himalayan mountains.

 

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Modern Wall Paintings & Golden Buddha Image Shrine Room

( Paintings at Ran Pilima Ge )

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Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

 

As one enters the Image House, The Golden Buddha Image can be seen at the further end. Painted on the side walls of the Ran Pilima Ge or the Golden image house are the important occations of the Sri Lanka's Buddhist history. One is the bringing the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi from India by Sangamitta Theraniya. Another is the bringing of the Dantha Dhatu or the Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha by the Princes Hemamali from Kalinga, India.

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The Bo tree and the court yard.

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Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

The Upper Terrace is accessible from four sides of the lower terrace area through flights of steps. The Upper terrace have the Image Hose, Dageba and the Bo Tree with other buildings.

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Paintings at Raja Pilima Ge or King's Image House

Click on Thumbnail Photos to see full size image and the photo description.

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya Temple Kelaniya Temple

Out of the many paintings of Kandyan era at Raja pilima Ge, or King's Image House, some photographs taken with existed lighting conditions appears above. In fact, all the photographs in this web site have been taken without flash light.The Image of King Maniakkitha with a sword in his hand is prominently seen here with much details of the image house itself. The best and the oldest paintings of Kelani Vihare is found in this section.The seven Jataka Stories ,namely the Vessantara,Telapatta, Dahamsonda, Maha Seelava,Dammapala, Mahakanna and Sama are painted in this image house walls.

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The Tsunami or the Sea Waves that engulfed Kelaniya nearly 2250 years back..

 

Kelaniya under sea

 

The Mahawansa chronicle states that during the rein of King Kelanitissa, who ruled from Kelaniya, around 2nd Century BC, had made an Arahath Thera killed due to a misunderstanding. Soon after that incident, the sea level has risen and vast land areas were engulfed by the sea which destroyed many lives and hundreds of villages in and around Kelaniya. This episode is painted as in the above by Solias Mendis in Kelaniya New Image House. The people in Sri Lanka were reluctant to believe this incident running back to two millenniums and more,since they had not heard that the sea can come beyond the shore, but after the destructive 26th December 2004 Tsunami, they realized that things they could not fathom earlier indeed may be true as it proved this time with sea waves about 40-50 feet high destroying most of the coastal area of the island. This incident of a Tsunami happened over two thousand years back, which is committed to writing indeed is of importance in the world history.

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Reference

J.B.Disanayaka " Kelani Vihare"- Sinhala Edition

Amara Hewamadduma " Kelaniya"- Sinhala Edition

 

Icon Kelaniya Temple

 

Kelaniya Weather Now

Lower Courtyard and Kelani River

The Stupa (Dageba )

Outside of Modern Image House

Inside of Modern Image House

Kandyan era Wall Paintings

Reclined Buddha Image House

Golden Buddha Image House

Bo Tree and Upper Courtyard

Jathaka Paintings at Raja Pilima Ge

Kelaniya Tsunami of 2nd Century BC

 

 


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