Visit the ancient Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya Temple
Over 10 kilometers north-east of Colombo city is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara or Kelaniya Temple which makes a fine day trip out of city and offers a great introduction to Buddhist history in Sri Lanka. One of the most sacred sites in the country, this temple was built on the banks of the Kelaniya River and people believe that Lord Buddha had visited and preached the doctrine on the disputed jewel–encrusted throne between two kings named Chulodara and Mahodara. The temple’s history would thus date back to before 500 BCE. After several times being destroyed, the structure was reconstructed by King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha in 1967 with new features. The main highlights are the image of the reclining Buddha and murals of the 18th century and the early 20th century, depicting the stories of the Buddha's life, the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and incidents from the Jataka tales. Every year during the January poya, or full moon, thousands of the Buddhists and tourists gather to see the Duruthu Maha Perahera of Kelaniya, celebrating the visit of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka.