Kelaniya is located approximately 7km east of Colombo along the Colombo – Kandy road. Kelaniya is one of the main cities of the Gampaha district which is located towards the south of the Colombo district.
The Colombo – Kandy A1 main motorway provides easy access to Kelaniya. Travelling past Peliyagoda, Kelaniya can be reached within a distance of 3km. The main town closer to Kelaniya next to Colombo is Kiribathgoda. Travelling from the Biyagama Free Trade Zone, Kelaniya can be approached along the Peliyagoda – Biyagama Road. Kelaniya can also be reached by Railway which runs from Colombo along Kelani Weli route.
The town can be reached by Air Taxi operated by Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier of the island. All flights are restricted to day light hours with fair weather conditions. The 15 passenger sea-planes can be chartered for private flights too.
The History of Kelaniya
Most of the important cities of Sri Lanka are associated with an unbroken recorded history that runs as far back to 543 BC. Kelaniya runs further back to the pre-historic times of Sri Lanka. It is believed that Buddha visited Kelaniya during the time of an impending war between two kings of the Naga tribe named Chulodara and Mahodara over a gem-studded throne. Following the appearance of Buddha, the war was averted. A Stupa was built in Kelaniya enshrining the disputed gem studded throne.
Kelaniya’s place in ancient history is of great significance; it was the city that gave birth to the heroine of the nation, Queen Vihara Maha Devi, the mother of the Hero of the Nation, King Dutugamunu. In the medieval literary works of Sri Lanka called the Sandesa Kavaya (Sinhala: Message in Verse), the city of Kelaniya over the Kelaniya River had been described as one with great natural beauty.
Kelaniya Temple Sri Lanka
Paintings of Kelani Viharaya Sri Lanka
Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera procession
Kelaniya draws hundreds and thousands of Sinhalese Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka to enjoy the spectacle of the pageant procession called the “Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera” which is held annually during the months of November/December. The procession commences at about 8 in the evening at the Kelaniya Temple. The grand procession is an organized riot of dozens of Elephants, whip crackers, flag bearers, drummers, dancers, trumpeters, dancers and fire pole acrobats.
University of Kelaniya
The University of Kelaniya is located bordering the Colombo – Kandy Main Road in Kelaniya and has its origin from the historic Buddhist Academy of studies called the Vidyalankara Pirivena. Founded in 1875, Vidyalankara Pirivena served as a centre of learning for Buddhist monks. It was one of the two great national centers of academic studies in Buddhism.
Kelani River, one of the main rivers in Sri Lanka that originates from the Sri Pada mountain range flows through the valley of Kelaniya into the ocean in Colombo.
The volume of water carried to the ocean varies very significantly with the season: during the monsoon, the river flow is 800 – 1500 m³/s and during the dry season it is some 20 – 25 m³/s. Kelani River is a source for hydropower generation, fisheries and irrigation.
Sri Dharmaloka College
Sri Dharmaloka College, located close to the Kelaniya Temple, was originally opened in the 1940s on the premises of the Buddhist Academy of Vidyalankara Pirivena. It was later shifted to its current location during the 1950s.