Gangaramaya Temple and Seema Malakaya

The Gangaramaya Temple is considered to be the most visited Buddhist temple in Colombo, not necessarily because of its historical significance, but because of its more radical architecture and structure that accommodates an eclectic mix of traditional Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese design, as opposed to the more traditional temples elsewhere in the country. The temple also doubles as a unique museum which showcases the strong cultural connections the country possesses across the oceans, pleasing the eyes of any traveler yearning for something out of the ordinary in Colombo.

Best Known For

  • The Gangaramaya Temple is famed for hosting one of Sri Lanka’s iconic peraheras’ or ‘processions’ in the form of the Navam Perahera, that has its humble beginnings during the 1970s and has carried on and grown in stature ever since, showcasing the unique diversity of culture the country possesses.
  • The Seema Malakaya, which is a part of the Gangaramaya Temple, is also famed for hosting the ‘Buddha Rashmi Pooja’, Sri Lanka’s largest and the most colourful Vesak festival at the iconic complex near Beira Lake. Giant pandols adorned in a dazzling array of lights depicting the stories of the Buddha during his journey towards enlightenment is a testament to the 120 year history of the now restored temple.
  • The temple complex is also home to many unique foreign artifacts that date back more than 1,000 years, making it an ideal location to understand the numerous and rich cultural relationships the country has established over the years, showcasing the religious and cultural traditions of Sri Lanka.

Interesting Facts

  • The temple was initially built on a small plot of marshy land during the 19th century by the late Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera, at a time when the preservation of the religious and cultural traditions of Sri Lanka were much needed due to colonialism.
  • The temple eventually expanded as a result of donations from many other religious groups in order to further enforce the religious harmony prevailing in the country.
  • As a result of the country’s turmoil during the 1970s, the temple hosted, in 1979, the colourful Navam Perahera to uplift the spirits of the local community which has worked wonders ever since.
  • With its strong international relations across the ocean, the temple is home to many artifacts from foreign lands, thus making the temple one of the few that also serve as a museum of sorts.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The temple is open for visitors throughout the year, however, it is best experienced during the season that starts late February to May when the temple is geared for hosting the many exciting events.
  • Gangaramaya Temple is generally opened for visitors from 5:30am - 10:00pm and would cost LKR 100 for anyone. The tranquil Seema Malakaya, on the other hand, is free for anyone to enter.
  • It is a religious place after all, which makes it imperative for you to dress accordingly when visiting. You will need to cover up your shoulders and legs. So no shorts, skirts, sleeveless shirts, or bare-midriffs. As a general tip, always carry around a sarong, long fabric, or scarf with you, so that you can cover yourself up when you visit places of worship.
  • Take a day off to explore the entire complex as it is quite large and tiring at the same time.

In conclusion, the Gangaramaya Temple and the Seema Malakaya can be considered to be one of the more unique temples in Colombo and arguably, in Sri Lanka since it is home to rather unique artifacts from around the world and is also responsible for hosting many colourful displays of pageantry gaining critical acclaim from around the world to join in the festivities too.

Title image by: KNOWSL The information displayed is provided by Gangaramaya Temple and Seema Malakaya


Museum Entrance Donation
LKR 100

Tickets At


Culture and Heritage

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