District of Gampaha located in the western part of Sri Lanka and administrated under the Western Province Council. Gampaha has many tourist and religious attractions.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara
The most popular religious place other than Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya in Gampaha District. Kelaniya Temple built on the banks of the Kelaniya River is one of the most sacred sites of Sri Lanka. Buddhists believe the temple to have been hallowed during the third and final visit of the Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, eight years after gaining enlightenment. Its history would thus go back to before 500 BC. Buddha ’ s timely visited the island resulted in quelling an imminent war between two kings named Chulodhara and Mahodhara over a jewel-encrusted throne. Buddha having preached the doctrine on the disputed throne offered to him ensued lasting peace between the two kings. The great stupa built upon the site enshrining the throne was since then called Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara.
The temple is also famous for its image of the reclining Gautama Buddha and paintings by the native artist Solias Mendis which depict important events in the life of the Buddha, in the history Buddhism in Sri Lanka, also incidents from the Jataka tales.
Henarathgoda Botanical Garden
Gampaha Botanical Garden also known as Henarathgoda Botanical Garden is situated in the suburb of Gampaha. The garden was established in 1876 by the British. The first imported rubber tree to Sri Lanka was first planted in this garden. The garden is smaller than the main one near Kandy but, nevertheless, still requires good hours to walk around it.
Gampaha Railway Station
Gampaha railway station is located in the centre of Gampaha and is located next to the Henarathgoda Botanical Garden. British built this station on 1864 December 27 as Henarathgoda railway station to facilitate the transportation of tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo. Later, the original station abandoned and it moved to current location with its present name, Gampaha railway station. But, old Henarathgoda railway station is still visible on the line approximately 100m away from the present station.
Horagolla National Park
Horagolla is the only urban park in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. The park is situated close to Horagolla Walauwa, the home of the Bandaranayake family. Horagolla National Park is one of the latest national parks in Sri Lanka. It is so called because of an abundance of Dipterocarpus zeylanicus (hora) trees.
Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya
Pilikuththuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is an ancient temple in the Gampaha District. You can come to this temple from Miriswaththa Junction or from Yakkala Junction. There are so many legends about this temple. There are several stories about the village Pilikuththuwa got its name. Pilikuththuwa is a cave temple. It paintings which have some Portuguese influence. Pilikuththuwa Stupa is located by inside a large cave. This dageba is small in size and believed that done in the Kandy Kingdom. Small wooden bridge in this temple which was done between two awasa (where the monks lived) and believed to be done in Dutch period. One of the awasa done in Kandy kingdom time and one was done under Dutch period of time. Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala ’ s Dolawa in this temple. You can climb the rock and visit a large number of caves. Also, you can see a large ‘Pus vela ’ on your way to the top.
Warana Raja Maha Viharaya
This is one of the cave temple located in Western Province of Sri Lanka. Warana temple got its name because it’ s located in Warana Village. History of Warana Rock temple flows up to King Dewanampiyathissa time. There are some inscriptions fine in Warana temple. They say that “This is donated to Tissa Dhatta Thero, the brother of Majjhima Thero ”. The Tissa Dhatta Thero is considered as the student of Mahinda Thero. The cave temple has many Buddha statues and nice paintings.
Aththanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya
Aththanagalla is an ancient Buddhist temple. It is situated in Aththanagalla 6 km from Nittabuwa in the Gampaha District. Attanagalla Rajamaha Viharaya is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sri Lanka that has several important historical monuments. Vatadageya is the first one and conservation and maintains of that well-doing by Sri Lanka archaeological department. According to history, Sri Lanka had 9 major Vatadages and 8 of 9 are now ruined. This is the only Vatadage remaining in Sri Lanka that people can see without extinction.
According to chronicle, King Siri Sangabo sacrificed his life by giving his head in gratitude for a favour he received from a poor and ordinary countryman. According to Mahawansa, the peasant refused that and the king himself separated the head and offered it to the peasant. This is the story behind the Aththanagalla and the place where the king had lived and the pond he went for the water still can be seen.
You can see old wall paintings, the marble Buddha statue, Maithree Bodhisattva statue according to Mahayana, Awalokitheshwara bodhisattva statue according to Mahayana at this temple. The place has later become a Buddhist temple and a lot of people visit it today.
W. A. L. Hasini Welivita – University of Colombo