This interesting temple in vibrant Kotahena is a unique blend of Thai, colonial and local architecture. It’s also the oldest Buddhist temple in Colombo.
Founded in 1785, it was the first Buddhist temple the colonial powers allowed in Colombo, because the Ven. Migettuewatte Sri Gunananda Thera built it as an extension to his house. It has been a place patronised and visited by Thai royalty for generations. On most evenings, however, it is a unique place to visit and worship.
Kotahena was once the Colombo 7 of the city, but most of the genteel population has since fled south. It can be a bit hard to get around. To get there take the Panchikawatte past the Elphinstone Theatre. Alternately, you can travel along the water, past the port and turn up George R. De Silva Mawatha. Both roads (after differing distances) end at the Kotehena roundabout.
Go up Kotahena street. From George R. it’s to the left, from Panchikawatte it’s basically straight. Don’t go too far though, before the police station (there’s a sign) turn right onto Wasala Road. Then take the next left onto Mayfield. Keep going for a block and you’ll see the temple on the next corner.
We mention the directions in detail because we had a devil of a time finding the place.
Deepaduttaramaya is really a lovely colonial building with a unique Thai style spired stupa in the front. They’ve marred the whole place a bit by putting a modern Buddha statue under a concrete canopy, otherwise you could see the bell-tower directly.
The ground is sandy and if you walk along the edges you can see plaques where various members of the Thai royalty have planted trees. Inside it’s a serene place where people truly do worship, under a somewhat incongruous British Royal style seal.
The place has a lot of history (read more) but it’s also a site of active worship, and quite peaceful at that. Kotahena has grown and urbanized quite aggressively around the environs and you can hear trishaws and traffic, but you can also feel the sand between your toes and smell the incense, and see average people bowed in prayer. It’s really quite a nice temple and, as Kotahena has many excellent churches, a good part of a religious tour.