Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka

Gadaladeniya Temple or Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient temple of Sri Lanka along the Colombo Kandy road. With beautiful views and a lot of attractions, it is always interesting to travel along the Kandy road towards the Temple of Tooth Relic which is a must-visit attraction in Sri Lanka. Although I’ve been to the Kandy tooth relic temple many times, this is my second visit to the Gadaladeniya Temple as we were always rushing with our Sri Lanka holiday plans. Finally, we visited Gadaladeniya temple during our 2016 Sri Lanka holiday and it was really memorable with other nearby attractions till we reached Kandy.

Bit of History about Gadaladeniya Temple

Gadaladeniya Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple that was built in the year 1344 and it has influenced of South Indian architectural style. Currently, it is maintained under the Department of Archeology, Sri Lanka as it is considered a historical heritage site.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Three generations, Grandfather, father and son

If you like history and culture, then Gadaladeniya Temple is a must visit place in Kandy, Pilimathalawa. We reached the temple around 2 pm, but it was a little bit sunny. However, among the ancient Buddha statues and paintings, I could not feel any difficulty. Instead, we spent our time watching the temple and reading its history of it. My little explorer too spent his time walking around the temple and he did not show any signs of tiredness.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Gadaladeniya temple Buddha statue

First, we entered the shrine room at the entrance of the Gadaladeniya viharaya which also looks so old and faded. However, as a heritage site, these statues and paintings are well protected in their original condition.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Ancient paintings found in Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Below is another buddha statue in a small shrine room.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Buddha statue inside the Gadaladeniya temple

The stupa of the Gadaladeniya temple is not huge as most Sri Lankan stupas found around the country. Instead, it is a small stupa (Pagoda) surrounded by another four smaller stupas. The main stupa is surrounded by four pillars and a roof which is unique to this temple in Pilimathalawa, Kandy.

Gadaladeniya Viharaya
Stupa of the Gadaladeniya Viharaya – Sri Lanka

There are stone guardians around the corners of the stupa which are symbolic elephants. These sculptures are great examples of the rich history of ancient Sri Lanka and its culture.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Guard stones

After spending time around the stupa, we entered the main Shrine hall which is also full of ancient paintings. The main Buddha statue represents the seating posture of Buddha and there are carvings and other sculptures around it.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka
Buddha statue of the main shrine – Gadaladeniya ancient temple

You will also find the relic casket in front of the Buddha statue which is also the table for offerings.

Gadaladeniya Temple –Kandy-Sri Lanka

We were impressed by the ancient sculptures and buddha statues in this Gadaladeniya temple as it is full of statues.

Pilimathalawa-Sri Lanka

There is also a Bodhi tree in Gadaladeniya temple which is a must-have in any temple. Other than the photos shared here, there are a lot of things to see including paintings and even an ancient inscription.

Things to do in Kandy-Sri Lanka
Bodhi Tree – Gadaladeniya ancient temple

If you visit Kandy Sri Lanka, don’t forget to spend a few hours visiting this Gadaladeniya Viharaya which is just around 1 km away from Pilimathalawa. (Pilimathalawa is a small town along the way to Kandy).

Also, there are other 2 historical attractions you can visit after Gadaladeniya Viharaya. Embakke Dewalaya and Lankathilaka Viharaya are other places you must visit on the same trip as those were also located just a few kilometres away.

How to Reach Gadaladeniya Temple:

It is located in Pilimathalawa along the Colombo Kandy road. If you reach by public transport, it is easy to hire a tuk-tuk from Pilimathalawa. Otherwise, it is also easy to arrange a private car or tour operator to visit Kandy including this temple.

Things to know before you visit:

It is a historical attraction. If you have an interest in ancient temples and culture then this will be an ideal place to visit. Also, check the dress code and behavior before you plan your trip to Sri Lanka temples.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? Or do you like to visit historical sites? Please share your thoughts.


  1. The beauty of reading blogs is discovering places and even enjoying them as if you are there. I like it best that your description of Sri Lanka has accompanying photos to better appreciate it. I am also impressed by the ancient sculptures and buddha statues in the Gadaladeniya temple. Makes me want to see them personally. Perhaps soon.

  2. I haven’t been to Sri Lanka but this reminds of the Thailand and its neighboring countries because of the Buddha and the temple. Culture is really intertwined with one’s religion. You can definitely travel back in time in this place. I shall visit this place one day.

  3. What a stunning ancient temple. I love all the intricate design and how it looks old, but maintain its innate beauty. I also love the view in the facade of it, truly breathtaking. The beautiful ancient sculptures and the lovely buddha statues in the Gadaladeniya temple is simply something I wouldn’t get tired to gaze at. Thank you so much for sharing this gem with us.

  4. I haven’t been to Sri Lanka yet but this temple reminds me of an old complex i have visited in Varanasi, in India. The paintings on the temple look so old but watching them you can’t stop wondering about the people who created them, so many hundreds of years ago. I love the elephants as guardians of the temple.

  5. I love culture and history. Any time I go on holiday I love to visit tombs and temples. Sri Lanka would be a dream destination of mine. At least I can visit through your great post! The pics are fantastic.

  6. Places of worship are always intriguing to say the least. People usually find them interesting. For me, as a Catholic, I also like visiting churches wherever I go. When I was in Thailand, I also visited some of their temples.

  7. I feel as if I was there too tagging along in your adventure! The sculptures and statues are really detailed and are quite impressive! They remind me of when I went to Cambodia, which is also replete with amazing structures and elaborate sculptures and statues. Sri Lanka is definitely one of the places I would love to visit one day!

  8. Sri Lanka has a beautiful way of introducing its country. Temples everywhere. The culture of the place is overflowing. I hope I can visit the place some time.

  9. It is indeed helpful of you to share the dress code for foreigners and others who are unaware of local traditions.
    Sri Lanka is finally coming on its own as a travel destination, which is nice. The only time I have been to a Buddha temple was more than 8 years back. The Lord seems unflappable in these photographs. The frescoes remind me of Ajanta and Ellora images.
    I hope the Lankan authorities preserve these images and temples for years to come.

  10. I am planning to visit Sri Lanka for years now but it seems I just can’t make it. And this is definitively one of the places I am going to visit, once I finally manage to come to Sri Lanka. I have to say that I was not aware of the required dressing code for the foreigners though. Thanks for letting me, and others, know so that we can all come prepared.

  11. Gadaladeniya Temple Is not as grandoise as other temples found in other Southeast Asian countries. However, I love the fact that it has its own story to tell too. I also like that it has interesting enormous stories. Hoping I get to see Sri Lanka in person soon.


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