Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya

Considered to be one of the 16 holy places the Lord Buddha visited, while on his second visit to Sri Lanka, the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya is steeped in ancient history that tells a story of pilgrimage and devotion, along with Sri Lanka’s diverse nature, culture and society. Therefore, making it one of the more unique religious monuments in the Paradise Isle, especially in the northern coast. Perfect for the history and culture enthuse.

Best Known For

  • The Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya is best known for being an important place for many a pilgrim, as it serves to be one of the ‘Solosmasthana’ (the 16 holy places the Lord Buddha visited) and is fabled in ancient religious texts and manuscripts, as a place where the Lord Buddha settled a feud between 2 kings.
  • Coupled with the simple nature of the place of worship, surrounded by the rustic charm of the island of Nainativu, the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya is great for anyone looking for peace of mind.

Interesting Facts

  • Although most of the current structure was built in the 1950s, the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya’s history can be traced back to the 1st century AC, as it is an important place for many a Buddhist pilgrim.
  • According to the Mahavamsa (a chronicle that documents Sri Lanka’s history from the 6th century BC), during Lord Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka, the island of Nainativu was a place of conflict, due to the warring Naga kings; Chulodara and Mahodara, over a gem-studded throne.
  • On the verge of the island becoming a battle ground, the Lord Buddha intervened and preached the virtues of non-violence to the kings and urged them to overcome the hate and unite.
  • The kings, finally coming to terms with each other, gave the Lord Buddha the gem-studded throne, but it was subsequently given back to the leaders.
  • This led to the enshrinement of the throne in the Nagadeepa Stupa, which has become an important place for Buddhist veneration.
  • Presently, the temple possesses image houses, the main stupa and 2 shrine rooms.
  • The image house of the temple contains detailed artworks of the preaching done by Lord Buddha to the 2 kings and how peace was obtained.
  • One of the more intriguing features is the silver stupa that is unique to other stupas, due to the colour.
  • The reason for the stupa to be painted in such a colour is for protection from the relentless sea breeze that could erode the limestone structure.
  • Scattered around the temple are informative signboards that explain the historical significance of the temple.
  • During the Bak Poya Day (Full Moon Day) that occurs during the month of April, the temple is alight with many a pilgrim coming to commemorate the events that occurred during the Lord Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • This Buddhist temple in Jaffna can be visited from 9:00am to 6:00pm, however, the ideal time to visit the temple is during the morning hours, as the weather is much calmer.
  • Since the temple is in a separate island, travelling may be quite difficult. However, there are ferries that run on a particular schedule and charge a nominal fee of LKR 40.
  • You could hire a private boat, if you find sticking to a schedule difficult. Private boasts for hire cost from LKR 2,000 upwards.
  • Keep in mind that the temple is an important place of worship, therefore it is imperative that you adhere to the attire allowed by Buddhist religious tradition.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the temple authorities. Moreover, please refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic on to the premises.
  • Photography is allowed here for the most part, however, it is still best to ask the temple staff just to make sure.

The Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya then, may be located in one of the more remote areas of the country and may look like any other ancient temple, however, the temple does not disappoint as its walls depict an ancient religious tale that talks of unity and is remembered every year for the values it teaches.

The information displayed is provided by Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya


LKR 500

Tickets At


Culture and Heritage

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