Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kalutara Bodhi

The Portuguese built a fort on the site of the original Buddhist temple at Kalutara. The Dutch took it over and later a British agent converted it into his residence during the colonial era. The modern temple, built in the 1960s, is located just south of the Kalutara Bridge and is the only dagoba (Buddhist shrine) in the world that is hollow. Inside, the cool, echoing walls are lined with a sequence of 74 murals depicting various scenes from the Buddhist Jataka (the legendary 550 previous births of the Buddha) tales. The remainder of the temple buildings are situated in a compound on the other side of the road, featuring the unusual Bo Tree enclosures and Buddha shrines. It is a lively complex and a good place to watch the daily rituals of Sri Lankan Buddhism: the offerings to Buddha images are made three times a day. Devotees place food and flowers in front of the images, lighting coconut-oil lamps, tying prayers written on scraps of cloth to one of the Bo trees or pouring water into conduits which run down to water the Bo tree's roots. Outside, a series of donation boxes line the roadside. These are popular with local motorists, who frequently stop here to offer a few coins and say a prayer for a safe journey.

Kalutara temple is one of the countries most holy places of woship and attracts both the South west Buddhsit community and touists to its golden Buddhist. Inside the Dogoba is a magnificient array of paintings describing the stories of Buddha. The 3 stories-high Kalutara Vihara, is a Buddhist temple built in the 1960s which holds the distinction of being the only shrine in the world that is hollow.

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