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Last updated : Nov 2009
Colombo Tours - Excursions
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Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Kelaniya Temple is an important Buddhist temple and a half-day tour.
It is located about 7 miles from Colombo.

The temple dates back to more than 2,500 years. It is believed that Buddha visited here and preached from a jeweled chair to warring factions on the futility of war. The original dagoba is believed to have enshrined the chair but was later demolished by South Indian invaders.

The 2 major statues here are the reclining Buddha and the Buddha in meditative pose; however, it is probable to spend hours studying the incredible frescoes describing the life of the Buddha and notable events in the island's history.

There is the story of King Kelanitissa who apparently boiled an alive Buddhist monk in oil as he believed that the monk tried to pass a love letter to the Queen. The angry gods produced tidal waves and the King was told that the only way to pacify the gods was to sacrifice his daughter to the sea. The King obeyed the wishes; 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 the best known of the island's kings, Dutugemunnu.

On the full moon of January, when hundreds of elephants and thousands of dancers parade the streets, there are many activities to enjoy and try at the temple during the Duruthun Perehera festival.


Sri Lanka's hill capital was the stronghold of the Sinhala Kings, is regarded by most Sri Lankans as the country's most beautiful town. It is 488 metres above sea level and is built around a lake and set in a picturesque natural arena.

A day’s tour to the Royal City encircled in the hills, visiting the unique elephant orphanage at Pinnawela en route. Kandy, famed for the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic of the Buddha is the home of arts and crafts offering extensive chances for sightseeing.

Kandy is an excellent place for shopping for souvenirs in wood, copper, silver, brass, ebony and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, jewellery and rush and reed-ware are also available.

The highlight of the year is the Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession by exotically costumed dancers, drummers and about 80 to 100 elephants during ten glittering nights in July and August. There are a number of shrines and temples in and around Kandy, where you will see rare paintings, frescoes, wood and stone carvings.

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya is a great place of outstanding beauty. The journey to Kandy is through picturesque rural Sri Lanka along a road, which is rich in history.


The fishing town north of Colombo has golden beaches and catamarans with billowing sails bringing the catch home. It is a town of churches and quaint streets in a picture book setting. Plenty of swimming and exotic seafood can be found here.


Ratnapura is known as the City of Gems. Visit a gem mine, gem museum and the cutting and polishing centre. A scenic drive will take you to Ratnapura. Travellers from all over the world have been attracted by the gems here. Even King Solomon sent his galleons to Sri Lanka to bring the gems with which he wooed the Queen of Sheba.


The scenic south coast road is covered with coconut plantations and golden beaches leading to Galle.

Galle is an old Dutch town with a well-conserved fort. On the way you can tour the Bentota National Holiday Resort and the mask makers of Ambalangoda. It is known for its beautiful hand made lace. En route to Galle there are numerous seaside accommodations with great amenities and delicious food.