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On the beautiful Beira Lake sits the Gangaramaya Temple complex – a spiritual space that houses the main Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, initiated by the famous scholar monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera in the late 19th Century. The complex includes the “Seema Malaka” which is an assembly hall for monks, a museum, a library and a training institute. There is also a huge sacred tree in the centre of the complex. The temple is involved in Buddhist welfare work including old peoples’ homes, a vocational school and an orphanage. The temple is uniquely tolerant to congregation members of many different religions. The main religious occasion celebrated here is the Navam Perahera procession held on the poya (full moon) day every February. Hundreds of monks take part in the procession in which sacred relics are carried in a casket on the back of a highly decorated elephant.
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has long been a port on the ancient east-west trade routes, and was ruled in succession by various European powers – the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The influences left by them are today reflected in Colombo’s architecture, which is a combination of colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls. The imposing Colombo National Museum, dedicated to Sri Lankan history, stands next to the sprawling Viharamahadevi Park and its giant Buddha. Beautiful Buddhist Viharas jostle…