Ashokaramaya Buddhist Temple in Kirulapone (Colombo 05) is one of the most unassuming temples you will come across in Sri Lanka. Not to be confused with the Ashokaramaya in Kalutara; this Colombo temple is an entirely different world of color and stories. The exterior in contrast is rather dull and normal looking; and as a result this temple is not very well known. However, recently with its paintings being redone; the temple has had an increase in the level of fame.
A Quick Look of Things to See
- The Main Temple: The inner walls, passageway and roof of the temple are covered in paintings of Buddhas’s life story, various repetitive patterns of flowers, animals, devas, dragons and etc. The older paintings are shades of yellow, deep red, brown, and dark green; while the newer paintings are of brighter shades such as brilliant blue, green, orange, magenta and beige. The inner shrine depicts has wall paintings of transcended monks in clouds worshipping the statue of the giant seated Buddha that is the centerpiece. On the side is a giant Nirvanic Buddha statue (reclining). Other rooms hold statues of the devas (aerial deities/angels) worshipping Buddha, done in relief on the walls. All the statues are very detailed and colorful; but have a reserved elegance. There are also some shrine rooms holding a Burmese Buddha statue in the Enlightenment form, and a figure depicting the legendary story of Buddha climbing Adam’s peak.
- The Bo Tree: The giant bo tree has a protective housing around it. There are several seated Buddhas enshrined along the wall. The area around the tree is quite nicely tiled making for a comfortable place to tread.
- The Outer Shrine: The outer shrine houses the Hindu Gods that the Buddhists worship. They are depicted in a different manner than usual, being the localized version.
- The Pagoda: The stupa is pure white and reasonably sized. Some of the sculpted detailing along the edges is definitely worth a second look.
- The Temple Museum: Ashokaramaya is also well known for a reason that is different from its beautiful paintings and sculptures. It’s the strange collection of knick-knacks it holds. The temple has a tradition where people make vows using various things and then donate those items to the temple. As such through the years the shrine has acquired a variety of very odd objects, some of them quite rare. Included in the collection are religious objects such as Buddha statues; but also things like old typewriters, cameras, ceramic tea sets, clocks, record players and etc. While some of these are junk, there are some items that show the passage of time and history.