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Kandy Monasteries

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

7MM4+537, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Krishan
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Kandy Monasteries early in the morning when the mist still lingers around the temple roofs; it's a serene time with fewer tourists, and you can often observe the monks engaging in their daily prayers. Additionally, check with the locals for the Poya Days (full moon days) when special religious activities take place, offering a unique glimpse into the spiritual practices of the city."

What is Kandy Monasteries?

Nestled among the lush hills of central Sri Lanka, the Kandy Monasteries refer to a collection of Buddhist monastic complexes in and around the city of Kandy. These sanctified sites hold a deep spiritual significance and showcase the profound historical connection that the locals have with Buddhism. They are not only places of worship and meditation but also serve as centres for learning and preservation of Buddhist philosophy and culture. As you wander through these sacred spaces, you can feel the palpable serenity and the deep sense of spirituality that pervades them.

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Each monastery has its own unique characteristics, often including living quarters for monks, stupas, shrines, and beautiful images of Buddha. Many of these monasteries are located in serene and tranquil settings, offering a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. From the architecture to the daily rituals, the Kandy Monasteries embody the essence of Theravada Buddhism that has been the cornerstone of Sri Lankan culture for millennia.

History of Kandy Monasteries

The historical tapestry of the Kandy Monasteries is as vibrant as the verdant landscapes surrounding them. The origins can be traced back to the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka during the 3rd century BCE, when Theravada Buddhism took root here. Over the centuries, numerous monasteries were built, particularly during the Kandyan Kingdom's era, when the city of Kandy served as the last capital of the Sri Lankan monarchy.

The rise of the monastic complexes was closely entwined with the consolidation of the kingdom's power and was seen as a way to boost the spiritual and moral ethos of the state. Throughout the colonial period, although faced with numerous challenges, the Kandy Monasteries stood firm as strongholds of Buddhist education and culture. The resilience of these monasteries during times of upheaval has held them in high esteem among locals and Buddhists worldwide.

Most notably, the Temple of the Tooth, or Sri Dalada Maligawa, which houses the sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha, is the most famous of these monasteries and is deeply associated with the political history of Sri Lanka—it's believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. The architectural and artistic advancements over the ages are quite evident in the various structures making up the monastic complexes, reflecting different epochs and their respective Buddhist art styles.

Why is Kandy Monasteries Important?

The Kandy Monasteries are important for several reasons, which span the religious, cultural, and historical facets of Sri Lanka. The most obvious significance is the religious one—the monasteries are active centres of Theravada Buddhism, and they play a central role in the spiritual lives of many Sri Lankans. They are sites of pilgrimage, reflection, and celebration, particularly during poya days (full moon days), which are of special import in the Buddhist calendar.

Culturally, the monasteries are bastions of Sri Lankan traditions and arts. They have preserved ancient practices, literature, and religious art forms that might have been lost otherwise. Historically, they are living monuments to the resilience and continuity of Buddhism in Sri Lanka through the ebb and flow of kingdoms and colonial occupations. The significance of these monasteries, particularly the Temple of the Tooth, has even been recognized by UNESCO, designating it as a World Heritage Site.

Moreover, the monasteries have also contributed significantly to the social fabric of the Kandy region and Sri Lanka at large. They have acted as institutes for education and been involved in social welfare, providing support and guidance to the local communities. The reverence they command has often translated into a unifying force for the people, making their role in society invaluable.

Things to Do & See at Kandy Monasteries

When you visit the Kandy Monasteries, you're embarking on a journey that is as enriching spiritually as it is visually. Witnessing the morning or evening puja (prayer) ceremonies is an experience not to miss—the air thick with the scent of incense, the rhythmic drumming, and the chants of the monks create an atmosphere that's truly mesmerizing. Don't hesitate to engage with the local monks; many speak English and are happy to share insights into their way of life and practices.

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The architecture and artistry found throughout the monastery complexes are sights to behold. The intricate wood carvings, detailed frescoes, and ornate statues tell stories of the Buddha and illustrate important facets of Buddhist teachings. Make sure to take a stroll through the temple gardens—these peaceful spaces often have smaller shrines and provide a lovely respite for contemplation or a quiet read.

  • Explore the Temple of the Tooth and its surrounding buildings, marveling at the golden canopy over the main shrine.
  • Attend a cultural show that often includes traditional Kandyan dance and drum performances held nearby.
  • Visit during the Esala Perahera, a grand festival featuring a procession, to see the richness of Kandy's cultural heritage on full display.
  • Take a walk around the Kandy Lake, built by the last king of Sri Lanka, which provides stunning views of the city and the temple.
  • Learn about meditation and Buddhist teachings by participating in guided sessions, frequently available at certain monasteries.

Whether you're seeking spiritual solace, cultural enrichment, or simply the peace that comes from being in such a storied and serene place, the Kandy Monasteries offer an endless wealth of experiences. Remember, the true beauty of these sites is often found in the quieter moments as much as in their grandeur—taking a moment to sit under the shade of a Bodhi tree might just provide a unique personal connection to this storied land.

Frequently asked questions

What is the significance of the Kandy Monasteries in Kandy?

The Kandy Monasteries are significant as they represent the religious and historical heritage of Kandy, being integral to the city's cultural and spiritual life, and are often associated with the Theravada Buddhism practised in Sri Lanka.

Can visitors participate in meditation sessions at the Kandy Monasteries?

Yes, some monasteries in Kandy may offer meditation sessions for visitors who wish to engage in spiritual practices and learn more about Buddhist meditation techniques.

What are the visiting hours for Kandy Monasteries?

Visiting hours for Kandy Monasteries can vary, but they are typically open to the public during daylight hours. It's recommended to check with the specific monastery for exact times.

Is there an entrance fee to visit the Kandy Monasteries?

Entrance fees for Kandy Monasteries may vary. Some monasteries may request a small donation or have an entrance fee to help with maintenance and preservation efforts.

Are there any annual festivals or events held at the Kandy Monasteries?

Yes, Kandy Monasteries may celebrate various Buddhist festivals throughout the year, such as Vesak Poya and Esala Perahera, which are marked with processions, decorations, and various religious activities.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

7MM4+537, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps