KELANIYA RAJAMAHA VIHARE
This dagoba is unusual. It is not round like those found in most parts of the island, but shaped like a heap of paddy. The history of the temple dates back to over 2,500 years. It is believed that Buddha visited here and preached from a jewelled chair to warring factions on the futillity of fighting. The original dagoba was said to have enshrined the chair but was later destroyed by South Indian invaders.
The reclining Buddha and the Buddha in meditative pose are two important statues here, but it is possible to spend hours just looking at the extraoridinary frescoes depicting the life of the Buddha and important events in the island’s history.
There is the story of King Kelanitissa who boiled a Buddhist monk alive in oil because he suspected him of trying to pass a love letter to the Queen. The angry gods raised tidal waves and the King was told that the only way to appease the gods was to sacrifice his daughter to the sea. the King obeyed the wishes of the wise ones; the seas calmed and the daughter who was swept out to sea on a boat landed at Kirinda. King Kavantissa of the south married her and she became the mother of perhaps the best known of the island’s kings, Dutugemunnu.
The temple is a hive of activity on the full moon of January, when hundreds of elephants and thousands of dancers parade the strets during the Duruthu Perehera festival.