The Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya (the Kelaniya temple) in Sri Lanka has been one the foremost sacred places of the Buddhists in the world throughout their history of over 2600 years. According to the historical records of Sri Lanka, on His third visit to this south Indian island nation, the Buddha visited the place where the Kelaniya temple stands today. Then, the Buddha preached the Dhamma and many became adherents of His teachings. The Buddha also rested in meditation there and had a bath in the Kelani River that flows across the Kelaniya temple premises.
With this sacred historical background, the Kelaniya temple emerged and exists as the focal Buddhist shrine of western Sri Lanka. Throughout the history of the island, various kings made many offerings of properties and enlarged the temple from time to time.
Today, as it has been in the past, the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya - standing in a serene and a beautiful surrounding on the banks of the Kelani River - maintains its sacredness, dignity and honorific status not only as a great place of worship but a reputed seat of Buddhist scholarship and oriental learning. The Kelaniya temple is also well known as a world cultural heritage and a center for social welfare and human well-being.
Throughout the history, the Buddhist priests that adored the Kelaniya temple have been learned scholars of international reputation. At present, the temple manages Kalyani Buddhist Institute – a center of learning for Buddhist monks with international standards and Sri Kalyani Dhamma School where nearly 3000 children learn the dhamma on Sundays.
The Kelaniya temple is also known worldwide for its unique outstanding wall paintings of the main shrine room. Not only aesthetics loving tourists and visitors from all over the world but enthusiastic researches and students visit this unique cultural heritage for research and learning.
Apart from various social welfare activities, the Kelaniya temple also manages a scholarship program for young novice monks and children with economical needs with the sponsorship of the Metta Vihara (Itsukushimidera) in Japan.