Worth a visit: Nelligala Buddhist Temple

by | Jun 10, 2022


Nelligala Buddhist Temple adds to the many other historic and cultural attractions that Sri Lanka offers on the top of a mountain! The feeling of being at the top is invaluable – a feeling that can heal our minds as we escape from the busy and stressful lifestyle that revolves around us on a daily basis. Nelligala Vihara is built on a hilltop, with beautiful construction that is of great architectural value. The golden Stupa is the highlight here along with the Mahayana Buddha statues and the Bo Tree in a golden bowl. Established as recently as 2015, not many are aware about this destination, but it is indeed worth a visit. At 700kms above sea level, these gorgeous structures are combined with clear blue skies and views that take you miles and miles away!

Where is the Nelligala Buddhist Temple

Nelligala Temple is located in a small village known as Muruthalawa, which is 11kms from Kandy town and 7 kms from Peradeniya town. When travelling from Colombo, here are the directions you should follow:

  • Reach Pilimathalawa
  • Turn left to Muruthalawa – Godamuduna Road
  • Turn left to Aladeniya – Eriyagama Road from Muruthalawa Junction
  • Turn left onto Kurugama Tea Factory Road just before Muruthalawa Tea Factory.

From this point onwards, the road is in good condition until you reach the top of the Nelligala temple. The attraction can be easily accessed in a private vehicle or bus.

Significance of the Temple

By conserving a scrub forest in 2014, the Nelligala Sacred Area was created. It took six years of hard work to build this sacred place in the midst of a stunning mountain range, while ensuring the forest area remains conserved. The statues and designs are golden in color along with the special gold bowl that holds the Bo Tree. There is also a 70-foot-high bubble-shaped golden Stupa that stands out amidst the blue background. It must be noted at this point that the construction of this Stupa was completed in three months.

When you get to the top of Nelligala Rock, you will see Alagalla, Hanthana, Hunnasgiriya, Batalegala and Atipala Mountain Ranges around you. The feeling of sacredness creeps in once you enter the Nelligala International Buddhist Center.

Adding to the sacredness is the Sri Sumana Saman Deva Statue which has been recently constructed in Sabaragamuwa. The Nelligala Sumana Saman statues is a true place of worship which is a must-visit for all. You can pay homage to the Lord Sumana Saman here – a Lord from the Aryan discipline, mounted on a white elephant which is considered a luxury vehicle, from the summit of Samantha Girihasa.

What is the best time to visit the temple?

If you are a person who loves the chilly winds and foggy skies of the monsoons, October to January is a good time to visit. But if you wish to stay away from the rainy season, February to May is the best time to visit Nelligala Temple. The average temperature ranges from 25 to 28 Degrees Celsius.

Early morning would be the best time of the day to visit Nelligala as the cool breeze blowing through the mountains makes you feel fresh. Also, in terms of the spectacular 360-degree views of the surroundings from the summit, morning hours offer clearer views as compared to later on in the day. Late morning and midafternoon become too hot at the top, instead you can visit in the evening hours to make it in time for the breathtaking sunset views.

What can you see at the Temple?

One of the first impressive visuals of the wisely built Nelligala Temple are the three massive Buddhist flags hoisted on a rock. Once you get there, plenty of space is available to park your vehicle. You can purchase flowers and other Buddhist offerings from here. There is a beautiful stone stairway that leads to a spiritual setting. Upon climbing the stairs, you will see a pond on the left with a statue of Lord Buddha and on the right is a modern dining hall. It takes just a few minutes to get to the summit where an amazing panoramic view from the top will indeed lift your mood. A spectacular landscape of hills, green tea estates and lush woodlands surrounding the spacious International Buddhist Centre makes you want to hang around for longer!

The golden Stupa on the left reflects brilliantly on the sunlight. A large bell suspended from a strong iron frame has an inscription which says that it is a friendship gesture in the form of a donation from Thailand. A paved pathway takes you to the Temple where the Sacred relics are enshrined. Two golden lions are at the entrance and a group of drummers welcome the guests to the Temple. Beautiful paintings are seen in the chambers surrounding the relics. On the right are large Buddha statues and a Bo Tree adjacent to the Temple.

You will also see an amazing statue of God Saman seated majestically on a white tusker – one of the best man-made structures of this deity. From its commanding tusks and the efficiently chiseled crown, every minute detail has been looked into. The Nelligala Center also has a book shop where you can sit and read religious observances and spend more time at the temple for a deeper awakening and spiritual connection. The temple premises are decorated with natural views including pepper trees, clove trees, wild roses, bougainvillea plants and chirping birds.

Things to know before visiting the temple

  • Nelligala Temple is a place of worship and suitable clothing is advised. For both men and women, it is best to have your shoulders, waist, hips, and knees covered with light colored clothing. Caps should be taken off along with your shoes when you enter the temple.
  • No advanced booking is necessary to visit the Nelligala Temple, and no entry fee is required either!
  • In an effort to allow every person, including senior citizens and those with mobility restrictions to access this place of worship, special pathways that provide wheelchair access have been designed.
  • Maintain silence and do not litter as a gesture of respect in this place of worship.
  • The Nelligala International Buddhist Center is offered as a venue for weddings, only upon advanced reservations.


Kandy is the closest popular city to Muruthawala and being a tourist hub, there are plenty of accommodation options available. From five-star options such as Earl’s Regency and Amaya Hills to budgeted hotels such as The Kandyan Villa, you have a wide range of options to choose from. It is indeed a rewarding experience to visit the Nelligala International Buddhist Centre. We at Blue Lanka Tours encourage everyone to go on this beautiful journey during your stay in Kandy.