The only Buddhist temple in Galle Fort
For centuries Fort had no temple, only churches and mosques. It was local philanthropist Muhandiram Wickramansinghe who pioneered its construction. You won’t find any building like it in the country. They used an old Dutch mansion as a foundation, then added the Dharmashala in Gothic style and over the years more parts were added in a mix of Buddha and Hindu styles.
Opposite the road is a sacred Bo Tree. A little bit lower near a fresh water well is a white tomb, the final resting place of the Muslim saint Dathini Ziyaram, the protector of the Fort.
The temple is very much a community place. Aiyomi Ramanayake, owner of a restaurant at the YMBA shares: “Most days I also visit the temple – it’s a spiritual place which brings me mental peace. Sometimes I make an offering to the Bodhi tree, which has special powers, or I take food to the monks.” Panangala Hema Loka Thero Head priest at the Sri Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple shares what a typical day looks like for him: “I get up at 4.30am. I walk on the ramparts in front of the temple. I like the calmness. Following my walk, I clean the temple, bathe, worship, have breakfast and then begin community service.”