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Sri Lanka takes pride in its religious diversity and inclusion. From Hindu to Buddhist, Muslims to Christians, there are people of varying faiths and religious beliefs in the country. Among all the popular Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, the Weherahena Temple deserves appreciation. Beyond the historical significance, the temple also stands out for its massive Buddha statue and the underground temple. Every year, the temple attracts thousands of devotees with its unique architecture and intriguing story. If you are interested in unveiling more details about the Buddhist temple, Weherahena temple, its origin, and history, adding it to your travel itinerary is a must.

Where Is Weherahena Temple Located?

Painting of inclined Buddha in Weherahena Temple

Image Credit: Mstyslav Chernov for Wikimedia Commons
Weherahena temple is located in the town of Matara, which is in the southern part of Sri Lanka. As for the exact location of the temple, it is around 6 km from the main town but quite centrally located, which makes it accessible to tourists. The temple is surrounded by lush greenery and a calming environment, which adds to its significance.

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Interesting Facts About Weherahena Temple

Painting of Gautam Buddha displayed at Weherahena Temple

Image Credit: Mstyslav Chernov for Wikimedia Commons
There are many interesting tales and facts associated with the temple, and knowing them before your visit will double the excitement.
Historical significance: The Weherahena temple was built in 1939 under the reign of Rev. Parawahera Rewatha Thero. Before the temple’s construction, the area was covered in dense forest. The area around the temple was cleared, and the temple was finally established in its place.
Location: Weherahena Rd, Matara, Sri Lanka
Temple Timings: 06:00 AM to 09:00 PM.
Entry fee: LKR 250 per person.

History Of Weherahena Temple

Intrinsic Cravings of Jataka Tales

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Weherahena Temple, officially known as Weherahena Poorwarama Rajamaha Viharaya, holds a special place in the religious and cultural landscape of Sri Lanka. After clearing out the entire space around the forest, Rev. Rewatha Thero laid the temple’s foundation in 1939. The main attribute of the temple’s construction lies in its underground temple, which distinguishes it from the other Buddhist temples around. The underground temple, also called the “Tunnel Temple,” was painstakingly carved out and adorned with detailed murals and frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha and various Jataka tales. One of the major milestones in the temple’s construction lies in the massive Buddha Statue, measuring 39 meters in height.

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Architecture Of Weherahena Temple

A statue of meditating Buddha

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While the actual temple’s appearance is unique, what makes things stand out is the underground temple complex, aka the tunnel temple. With a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers, it is one of the country’s most uniquely designed Buddhist temples. Inside the temple lies a network of murals and frescoes depicting varying Buddhist themes, including the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. Proper guidance inside the tunnel temple ensures that visitors don’t get lost in the maze. Another architectural element of the temple is the Giant Buddha Statue, which is one of the tallest Buddha statues in Sri Lanka, where Buddha remains in a meditative posture. Coming to the temple grounds is a main hall or vihara, where tourists offer their prayers and practice different rituals too.

Best Time To Visit The Temple

You must visit during Vesak to witness the festivities

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Like other sightseeing spots and tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, even Weherahena temple is best explored between November and April. The weather is quite pleasant, and with fewer rain chances, you get to explore the surroundings more freely and without any worries. Another period that’s considered the peak season to visit this temple is during Buddhist festivals such as Vesak. Cultural events are hosted during such periods, giving you a glimpse into the beautiful culture.

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Things To Do At The Temple

You could attend the festivities in the temple

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Beyond offering prayers and soaking in the calmness, the Weherahena Temple offers many unique experiences. Here are a few to consider:
Explore The Underground Temple
When you visit the Weherahena temple, its highlight lies in its stunning underground temple, where you can explore different art, carvings, and murals. Beyond the life of Lord Buddha, there are stories from the Jataka tales, too.
Meditate and Reflect
The temple’s surroundings are so peaceful and secluded that you can stop, meditate, and reflect on your current state of life. Multiple dedicated spots are available inside the temple where you can relax and unwind.
Admire The Giant Buddha Statue
As one of the tallest Buddha statues in the country, it is worth stopping to admire. From its grandeur to the intricate details that line it, there’s a lot to look into and explore.
Witness Religious Ceremonies
If you are particularly visiting the temple to witness the religious ceremonies, you can do so inside the temple as well. Also, if you want to learn more about Buddhism and its culture and teachings of Lord Buddha, you can hire a guide or learn from the monks inside the temple.

Places To Visit Near Weherahena Temple

Following finishing your exploration of the Weherahena temple, you can go ahead and take your time to explore the surrounding spots, including:

1. Matara Fort

Matara Fort near Weherahena Temple

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One of the most significant elements of exploring Matara is visiting the fort that represents the history associated with the town. The temple was initially constructed by the Portuguese in 1560 and later captured by the Dutch. As you step inside the ruins of the fort, they take you back to the colonial era that governed Sri Lanka once upon a time.
Distance from Weherahena Temple: 3.9 Km
Timings: 24 Hours

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2. Polhena Beach

Polhena Beach near Weherahena Temple

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For the tourists looking for some coastal fun, make your way to Polhena Beach. It is a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of the city where you can indulge in various water sports like swimming, snorkelling, parasailing, etc. The calm, shallow waters and vibrant coral reefs make it ideal for marine enthusiasts.
Distance from Weherahena Temple: 7.5 Km
Timings: 24 Hours

3. Old Dutch Market

Old Dutch Market near Weherahena Temple

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When visiting a new place, you need to appease the shopaholic in you by getting a few knickknacks and trinkets. The Old Dutch market near Matara offers just that. You can find them all from fresh produce to local handmadBatticaloae items.
Distance from Weherahena Temple: 5.6 Km
Timings: 24 Hours

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How To Reach Weherahena Temple?

To reach the temple, you can take a taxi or tuk-tuk

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If you want to reach the Weherahena temple without breaking the journey, travelling by road is your best bet. You can either take a public bus or hire a taxi from Matara. Since the temple is around 6-7 km from the main town, the journey takes you through scenic views of the surroundings. Depending on the vehicle of your choice, the journey to reach the temple will take somewhere between 15-30 minutes.

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Weherahena temple in Sri Lanka is one of the most significant temples in the Buddhist community. From its unique underground temple to the towering Buddha statue, every aspect of Weherahena offers something intriguing for visitors. The next time you plan your trip to Sri Lanka, including this temple in your itinerary is an absolute must. From exploring the intricate motifs and murals to finding peace and solace in the temple’s premises, many experiences are awaiting you.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Weherahena Temple

How tall is the Buddha statue at Weherahena Temple?

The seated Buddha statue at Weherahena Temple stands at an impressive height of 39 metres (approximately 128 feet), making it one of the largest in Sri Lanka.

What are the Weherahena Temple timings?

The Weherahena temple opens at 06:00 AM and closes at 09:00 PM. So plan your visit accordingly.

What are the Weherahena Temple entry fees?

The entry fee to the temple is LKR 250 per person.

Are there any special events or festivals at Weherahena Temple?

Yes, the temple hosts various Buddhist festivals and ceremonies throughout the year, including Vesak.

Can I participate in meditation sessions at the temple?

Yes, Weherahena Temple offers a serene environment perfect for meditation. Visitors can find multiple spots within the temple grounds to practise mindfulness.

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Category: Places To Visit, Sri Lanka, Temples

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