the most famous attraction in Colombo?
felt shocked with the temple here…
Gangaramaya Temple is the most famous temple in Colombo, where the president of the country would visit here as well. The temple’s architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture. This Buddhist temple includes several imposing buildings and is situated not far from the placid waters of Beira Lake on a plot of land that was originally a small hermitage on a piece of marshy land.
It has the main features of a Vihara (temple), the Cetiya (Pagada) the Bodhitree, the Vihara Mandiraya, the Seema Malaka (assembly hall for monks) and the Relic Chamber. In addition, a museum, a library, a residential hall, a three-storeyed Pirivena, educational halls and an alms hall are also on the premises. Most notable for tourists is the architecture of the Simamalaka Shrine, which was built with donations from a Muslim sponsor to the design of Geoffrey Bawa.
Way to the temple
The temple is located in the center of Colombo, where takes a few walks from the hotel residence area with like Hilton Residence and Residence 360…It is our first few days in Sri Lanka, we were getting used to the temperature, environment and the lifestyle.
It was about 30 degrees and quite uncomfortable to have a walk. If you decide to take a tuk-tuk (cab without air conditioner), you have to take one with a meter in order to prevent being overcharged. Some drivers claimed their meters are not worked and charge you with their own prices. It is important to check whether the meter is working.
Manners of entering the temple
Like many other temples in Sri Lanka, you have to put off your shoes in front of the entrance. Some other temples might forbid vehicles parking nearby so you may walk without shoes for more than 10 minutes. It’s way of experiencing the Sri Lankan culture.
They don’t have standard admission fee for most of the attractions. Basically, they charge you according to their moods HAHHAA It is quite normal for them to charge foreign tourists over 3-4 times than the “local price” Even though Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions of the city, only Sinhala tour guide is available here.
I believe things would become better after Sri Lanka opens up for tourism. But at the moment, Sinhala is the main language used for tourist boards here.
Temple managed in Sri Lankan style
I used to describe the chili attitude and informality as “Sri Lankan” styles. It is quite rare to have a temple consists of different religions as if all “gods” are living together. You could say they have a wide range of religions here. Or to make it clear, the collections are demonstrated in a messy way. It is the first time for me to see a Chinese Buddhist statue put next to Thai Theravada Buddhist statue. I’m an atheist but obviously, these statues are from different religions.
More in the museum…
It is even more shocking to visit the museum. Literally, the storage room without air-conditioner looks like a second-hand store, rather than a museum of a tourist attraction. In a shelf, you could find some Chinese plates while a statue is put next to them. Different currencies are shown without indicating which country is it from. The collections are donated from different countries over the world, seems like they put them together without organizing.
Another way to show their culture
I found so funny about the sign, which saying do not use mobile phones inside the temple. Isn’t it usual for us to put the sign in front of the entrance or somewhere in our eye level, so visitors could notice the sign? However, they didn’t put one near the entrance of the museum. I found a few on the floor, where is hard for visitors to notice the signs.
Ceremony with Elephant
Elephants are important elements for temple festivals. For centuries, captive elephants in Sri Lanka have had a noble or royal role. Buddhists and Hindus alike associate them with valour and strength. It was walking around the temple and was restrained by chains. I can’t imagine baby elephants are captured in the wild and are taken from their mothers. These are young, dependent animals. But at the same time, there is no prospect of the tradition being abandoned. I believe this would be a tough issue when Sri Lanka is developing and concerning more on the animal right one day.
Rather than the park, the unconstructed area next to tourist attraction impressed us a lot. Who could imagine a smelly place with lots of unidentified materials, where is only 5 minutes walk to the famous tourist attraction. I would say it is the realistic side of Colombo, the most advanced city in the country. Even though we were staying in residence area, where the high-flyers and oversea talents live, the road is still under construction.
Way to negotiate in Sri Lanka
We have passed by a temple and though it is the Gangaramaya park when the time we visited. We asked for the admission fee out of curiosity, they said the admission fee is Rs300/pc. Since my friends are Christians and I’m atheist, we didn’t feel interested and trying to leave. Then they offered us to buy two get one free, eventually Rs300 for 3 people.
The price level of Sri Lanka is low, it is affordable even if the locals charge you 3-4 times more. However, pretend leaving is a good way for negotiation if you are so desperate to bargain. The same rule applied for taking a tuk-tuk, there are so many drivers here so don’t rush on getting into a vehicle. You shall take the tuk-tuk only if both driver and you agree with the price.
How I feel about Sri Lanka
As I mentioned above, it was the first few days of my placement started. When we are on the way walking back and saw so many skyrocketing buildings, I was a bit frustrated about whether I’m in Sri Lanka or other well-developed countries. If you eat out in these “Western area”, it costs 10€ per meal. In contrast, some locals are wandering around the street and beg for money. There is a huge wealth gap, which probably a critical social issue of the country.