Padeniya Raja Mahavihara

The Ancient Cities

About 85km south of Anuradhapura and 25km northwest of Kurunegala, where the Puttalam and Anuradhapura roads meet, is this Kandyan-style temple, which is worth popping into if you’re passing by. It’s a pretty, medieval temple with 28 carved pillars and a stunning elaborate door (said to be the largest in Sri Lanka) to the main shrine. There is also a clay-image house and a library, as well as a preaching hall with an unusual carved wooden pulpit.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Ancient Cities attractions

1. Panduwasnuwara Ruins

8.69 MILES

The archaeological site is spread over a wide area. Near the entrance is a moat, a massive citadel wall and the remains of a royal palace. Further on are…

2. Archaeological Museum

8.85 MILES

This tiny museum on the main road next to the turn-off to the ruins has a modest collection of objects recovered from the Panduwasnuwara site, including…

3. Yapahuwa Rock Fortress

12.66 MILES

The steep ornamental staircase of this dramatic rock fortress is perhaps its finest feature, and once led to the Temple of the Tooth. One of the lions…

4. Athagala

15.61 MILES

An atmospheric rock-cut staircase winds up Athagala, a large black rock outcrop on the eastern side of the city, to offer fine city views from a 22m-tall…

5. Ridi Vihara

20.34 MILES

The primary attraction at this Buddhist temple is the golden standing Buddha statue in the main cave called the Pahala Vihara (Lower Temple), which also…

6. Monaragala Viharaya Buddha

21.64 MILES

This 20m-tall sitting Buddha, 4km southeast of Ridigama, was unveiled in 2015 as the largest (but not the loveliest) granite statue in the world. Set on a…

7. Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage

26.96 MILES

Initially created to protect abandoned or orphaned elephants, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions. It's a highly commercialised experience…

8. Heritage Spice & Herbs Garden

27.99 MILES

With an attractive, shady garden, this spice specialist runs informative tours and has a cafe for snacks and drinks. Around 15km north of Matale.