Isipathanaramaya Temple – Colombo, Sri Lanka - Atlas Obscura
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Colombo, Sri Lanka

Isipathanaramaya Temple

This peaceful sanctuary is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo. 

Among the many houses of worship in the Sri Lankan capital, this century-old temple stands out as something special. Isipathanaramaya is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo, built in 1916 by a wealthy merchant to grieve the loss of his only son, who was executed by the British based on false accusations.

The colonial temple’s wonderful architecture and artwork would assure that the young man’s name was remembered throughout the century to come. The bright white domed structure hides a burst of colorful statues and painted murals inside. Created by a renowned artist in the 1920s, the beautiful and well-preserved frescos depict the life of Buddha in a stylized fashion that was quite unique for the time.

The temple also houses a lovely Bo Tree, and the recent addition of a 40-foot-tall Buddha statue. Isipathanaramaya is the local temple in Havelock Town (Colombo 5), located just far enough south to be off the tourist track. It’s a serene and peaceful place, a welcome respite from the bustle of Colombo.

Know Before You Go

Located in Colombo 5, most easily reached by tuk-tuk. Open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a $1 entry fee. Note that this is an active temple frequented by locals who come here to meditate and pray.