A short walk southeast from Beira Lake lies the Gangaramaya Temple, one of Colombo’s most important Buddhist shrines as well as the focus of the NavamPerahera festival. The temple was established during Sri Lanka’s 19th century Buddhist revival, and comprises an usual mix of Minimalist and modern Indian architectural styles. The temple complex is made up of a group of buildings clustered around the main courtyard with a dagobaat the centre and a bo tree growing out of a raised platform. This is also where the temple elephant can be seen.
Located across the courtyard is the main image house – home to a large orange-robed Buddha in meditation pose, flanked by elephant tusks and surrounded by devotees. Although the statue is brightly colored and overpowering, the effect is nonetheless impressive. It is also worth looking around to appreciate the carvings on the walls and along the base of the image house.
The wooden pavilion opposite the image house is the library, where piles of antique ola-leaf manuscripts are flanked by Buddha statues from abroad. The upper floor can be accessed via the bo tree terrace, and a walk along the adjacent balcony affords a good overview of the complex. Just off the courtyard, the temple museum contains an extraordinary collection of gifts accumulated over the years – ranging from Buddha statues to cameras. The 1930s Mercedes Benz parked outside was also presented to the temple and is a popular photo opportunities.
Visitors must take their shoes off inside the temple. Note, however, that the floor here can get very hot from the sun, so it is advisable to bring a pair of socks.