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Asokaramaya Temple

  Province Western
  District Colombo
  Nearest Town Colombo
  Period 1873 AD
  Ruler British Period


In the year 1873 a virtuous Buddhist monk, Rev Aluthgama Sangharatne by name came to the Village called Etanamadala in Kalutara North and was residing in a quiet hermitage, a strip of jungle close to river Kalu Ganga. He wed to go begging for food round the Village and the people happened to assemble at the hermitage to hear his sermons.

A devout religious donor who was quite wealthy, Mr. Elliyas Fernando by name, a residence of Kalutara North happened to listen to their sermons and so became a dedicated benefactor of Rev. Sangharatne Thera. He arrange a small hall built in the same land as the temple exist today and donated to the monk to conduct his sermons. The hall was then called ‘Katti-paha’. Since then the monk conducted most of his Buddhist sermons inside the hall and naturally the popularity of his sermons attracted the Buddhist devotees in large numbers. With the donations of the growing number of devotees the sermon hall was enlarged and this spot came to be known as ‘Dharma Salava’, the preaching hall as we know it today.

Later, resident of Etanamadala Village caused to build a small Shrine room for the devotees to do offerings. They also built another preaching hall while the former hall was enlarged by Mr. Elliyas Fernando, adding ten rooms for the residential monks. In the center of this large building is the Relic chamber around which there are small halls and the drawing room.

He then started building a Mansion for the Buddha which is the present Shrine house. The ‘Vihara Mandira’ with all its splendout. The stone inscription fixed on to the front wall of the shrine says that this Temple Asokarama is offered to the Monks by the devotee Elliyas Fernando in the year 2411 Buddhist era, that is 1867AD, in the midst of the Maha Sangha the retinue of Monks headed by Ven. Siri Dhammarama Thera of Matara.

After the demise of Ven. Aluthgama Sangharatne Thera, Ven. Kalutara Siri Sumanatissa Thera was the head of the Temple from 1881 to 1920, during which period the present Dageba or the Stupa the dome where relics are embedded was built. This Monk was also the head of the Siri Dhamma Yuttika (Matara) sect of Buddhist Monks.

When he passed away in 1920, Ven. Kalutara Vimalajoti Tissa took over the Temple. It was during his period the present preaching hall was built and also the Bo-tree was planted and the tower for the Temple bell was built.

Next came the Ven. Kalutara Saddhatissa Thera’s period of administration from 1934 to 1959. His pupils were Rev. Parakaduwe Saranankara and Rev. Kirillavela Piyatissa Students at Molligoda Pirivena at the time. As Ven. Saddhatissa was invalid the administration of the Temple was handed over to Ven. Delgoda Pemananda Thera.

Rev Parakaduwe Saranankara Thero. The current chief incumbent of the Asokarama Buddhist temple Kalutara, Chief monk of the Buddhist monetary council Kalutara, Chief Monk of New Korale and Thotamune Buddhist monetary council in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Rev Parakaduwe Saranankara Is the head priest of the temple since 1976 to the present date. He also the head priest and administer the Buddhist programs of five other Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. These temples are as follows:

1. Vivekarama Buddhist temple, Kaduboda Delgoda Sri Lanka,

2. Vivekarama Buddhist Temple, Mahara, Sri Lanka

3. Vivekarama Buddhist Temple, Kalutara Beach, Kalutara North, Sri Lanka

4. Bodhirukkarama Vivekarama Buddhist Temple, Kalutara North, Sri Lanka

5. Dharmakeerthiyodyarama Vivekarama Buddhist Temple, Kalutara South, Sri Lanka

Rev Parakaduwe Saranankara is also the head of Buddhist monetary council of Kalutara, and the Colombo districts. He is well known for his ability to chant Pirith in a mesmerising voice and style in the well known Buddhist monk community Sri Lanka and abroad.

What greeted us, when we entered the Asokaramaya is some of the finest wall murals I have ever seen in Sri Lanka. The details, the colours, were exquisite to the minute detail. The result is like nothing I have seen before, for it depicts Sri Lankans as Buddhist, something outside the normal Buddhists which are often Thai, or Burmese, or Tibetan or Chinese.

The Asokaramaya is truly a worthy destination to explore if you ever find yourself in Sri Lanka. Print out this page and show it to a taxi driver!