In 520 BC, Lord Buddha was invitedto preach by the king of Kelaniya. Today, theKelaniya Raja MahaVihara sits in a park-like setting, just 9kilometres from theheart of Colombo
.The main courtyard containsa shrine house or vihara, astupa (dagoba), and a sacred bo tree, the type under whichLord Buddha gained enlightenment.
The vihara was destroyed and rebuilt severaltimes, the current incarnation having beenconstructed in the early 20th century. This is arguablyone of the most interesting viharasin the country, for inside it, almostevery square centimetre of thewalls and ceiling is decorated withfrescoes, executed by a famouslocal artist.
This ancient dagoba or dome-shaped stupaat
, east of Kandy,has been added to for more thantwo thousand years, and is reveredas one of the holiest Buddhistsites in the country.
Lord Buddhareturned to SriLanka five yearslater
, again in an attemptto prevent a war. Today, a bell-shaped dagoba marks the siteon the small island of
, west of Jaffna. Nearthe dagoba is a robust tree, the cutting of which is supposedto have been brought with Lord Buddha. After leaving the mountain peak of Sri Pada where, accordingto legend, he left his footprint, Lord Buddha is said to havemeditated at a spot near the east coast, a remote regionbetween Batticaloa and the beautiful Arugam Bay. The
was built here in the 2nd century BC. Another sacred relic, a tooth of Lord Buddha, isenshrined at Sri Dalada Maligawa or the
Temple of the Tooth, in Kandy