A giant Buddha perches atop a colorful pedestal at Kande Viharaya, an 18th-century hilltop temple. Sitting cross-legged, he stares straight ahead over the walkway, his expression empty. At 160 feet tall, he’s one of the tallest sitting Buddha statues in the world.
The massive statue has been successful at drawing more locals to the historic temple since it was unveiled in 2007. It’s an eye-catching sight, one you’re sure to notice from a distance. However, the amazing Kande Viharaya has far more to offer than just its signature statue.
Since it was founded in 1734, the temple has been an important site for Sri Lankan buddhism. Though it has changed throughout the centuries, thanks to new additions and necessary maintenance, it hasn’t strayed too far from its original basis. As such, the government officially recognizes it as an archaeological site.
Step inside the temple and you’ll discover it houses a library, museum, and figures of Sri Lanka’s past kings. You’ll of course find more statues of Buddha, though they’re obviously much smaller than the one that greets visitors. There’s also Bodhi Tree, thought to be more than 300 years old, and a beautiful stone moonstone, a classic feature of architecture first seen in Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura Kingdom.