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October 18, 2017: Reclining Buddha near Karandeniya, Sri Lanka


The photo shows the head of the giant Buddha statue at the Galagoda Shailatharama Viharaya, just outside Karandeniya in South-Western Sri Lanka. At around 35 metres in length, it is claimed to be the largest reclining Buddha in South Asia. The veracity of this statement might depend on where precisely you draw the boundaries of South Asia, but without doubt the statue is impressively large. It is also not well-known.

Taking a good photo of the whole statue is not an easy task -- there are pillars and other obstacles in the way -- and in the end I settled for shots from various distances, with a separate one of the Buddha's feet.




Who commissioned/built the statue and other details of its origins seem to have been lost in the fog of time -- or, at least, there appear to be differing accounts. It clearly is quite old, though, and thus not surprisingly there is a need for restoration work (in all likelihood on a continual basis). Some of that was in progress when we visited the temple.

The hall housing the statue seems to have been built around it, probably at a much later stage. The outer chamber contains a variety of colourful decorations, illustrated in the next two photos.



The most remarkable and memorable part of the temple for me, however, is the face of the Buddha, with its serene expression radiating feelings of peace and tranquillity.


The site is well off the beaten tourist track, although it is quite easy to reach by tuk-tuk from places like Ambalangoda or the beach resorts along this stretch of the coastline. The fact that you are unlikely to encounter anybody else, of course, contributes to the tranquil atmosphere of the place.


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