The Buddha’s Visit (Circa 500 B.C.)

The next historical event connected with Kelaniya, is the Buddha’s visit. The Buddha knowing that the Lanka would be the only country where his religion would be most glorified is said to have graced this island with three visits-The first to Mahiyangana, the second to Nagadeepa and third to Kelaniya. The details of these visits are recorded in the Mahawansa and the Chulawansa, the two oldest historical chronicles of Sri Lanka. The Buddha is said to have made his third visit on the personal invitation extended to him by Maniakkhika, the ‘naga’ king of Kelaniya.

On arrival, the Buddha and the company of ‘Arahants’ were received with great ceremony and veneration. Tradition has it that the Buddha on this occasion bathed in the waters of the Kelani river at a point immediately in front of the spot where the Kelani Vihara stands today, thus making the river sacred to the people of Sri Lanka. Thereafter the Buddha and the ‘Arahants’ were conducted in procession into a decorated hall, especially erected for the occasion. There they were offered sumptuous food. After the meals, the Buddha, it is said, delivered a discourse to the king and his citizens. Later on to commemorate this event, the king is said to have built a ‘dagaba’ on that hallowed spot, and enshrined in it the gem-studded throne on which the Buddha sat and delivered the Dhamma to the ‘Nagas’. This built at Kelaniya. It was during this visit that the Buddha is also said to have visited Adam’s peak and placed his footprint on its summit to be revered by the future generations of Lanka.