10 Amazing Monasteries To Visit In Sri Lanka - Updated 2022

monasteries in sri lanka
Sharon A.
Sharon A.  
Updated

Buddhism is deeply embedded in Sri Lanka. It is one of the oldest religions in the world and its roots go deep, back to the earliest centuries of civilization. Whether or not you are a religious buff visiting Sri Lanka or just a regular tourist, you will be missing a great deal if your itinerary doesn’t include a visit to Sri Lanka’s temples and monasteries. The historical, cultural and religious education you will get in such sacred places is unique and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most travelers to the region. Afterward, you can stay in one of the amazing treehouse hotels or Airbnb vacation rentals found in the area. Scroll down to learn about some of the amazing monasteries to visit in Sri Lanka, so you can take a walk back in time to hundreds of years ago and learn about the fascinating lives and beliefs of the monks.

1. Mahamevnawa Polgahawela Buddhist Monastery, Polgahawela

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Mahamevnawa on Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Mahamevnawa Polgahawela Buddhist Monastery was established in 1999 to nourish the spiritual development of Buddhists through the holy teachings of the Buddha. It is a warm and welcoming monastery, whose sole purpose is to advance the true and original teachings of the Buddha.

At the monastery, you will find the teachings of Buddha presented in an easy to read and understand language for the benefit of all visitors. If you are looking for a great place to investigate true happiness through meditation and Dharma, this is one of the best monasteries to achieve such an endeavor.

Mahamevnawa Polgahawela Buddhist Monastery

Address: Waduwawa Yatigal-oluwa, Polgahawela 60314, Sri Lanka

Website: Mahamevnawa Polgahawela Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 7am - 9:30pm; Sat: 6am - 9:30pm

Price: Free

2. Anuradhapura Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Anuradhapura Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery is in a silent location and in close proximity to various ancient and sacred sites in Anuradhapura. The monastery speaks of opulence and elegance and this helps to accentuate and affirm the great teachings that await you on the inside.

Though you can visit the site to marvel at its grandeur and beauty, having a chat with a monk about the importance of Buddhist holy sites and pilgrimages will be a great eye-opener to you about Buddhism and the ancient teachings of Buddha that still hold true to date.

Anuradhapura Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: Watawandana Rd, Anuradhapura 50000, Sri Lanka

Website: Anuradhapura Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: 6am - 9:30pm (daily)

Price: Free

3. Bandarawela Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Kumbalwela


Bandarawela Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery sits gently on top of a mountain near the town of Ella, which coincidentally, is the home to more than 30 Theravada Buddhist monks. The uniqueness of this monastery comes from the fact that you will have to make the long and the torturous trek to reach the summit of the mountain. However, the reward is that you will be treated to spectacular views of the region below and deeper insight into the spiritual teachings of the Buddha from the monks.

Bandarawela Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: Kumbalwela, Sri Lanka

Website: Bandarawela Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: 6am - 9:30pm (daily)

4. Pinnawala Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Rambukkana

Posted by Mahamevnawa Amadahara Buddhist Monastery - Pinnawala on Saturday, 15 February 2020

Pinnawala Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery is a small village monastery and an obvious inclusion for visitors visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Because of its proximity, it is where most people head after visiting the monastery and it is where they can learn more about Buddha’s teachings and his deep views on compassion, as well as the dangers of the animal world.

Pinnawala Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: Rambukkana, Sri Lanka

Website: Pinnawala Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

5. Kundasale Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Kundasale


Kundasale Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, simply known as Kandy, is just a few minutes’ drive from Kandy. The monastery is located on the beautiful hillside, with mesmerizing views of what was once the ancient capital of Kandy. Visiting this monastery will expose you to many of the Buddha’s teachings and, owing to the serene environment of its location, it provides a perfect and peaceful environment for those looking for relaxing things to do.

Kundasale Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: Warapitiya Rd, Kundasale 20168, Sri Lanka

Opening hours: 6am - 9:30pm (daily)

Price: Free

6. Matara Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Aparekka

Matara Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery
Source: Pexels

Matara Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery and currently home to over 140 monks. With such a large number of active monks, a visit presents a variety of opportunities to learn and get involved with the day to day life of a real monk. It is a perfect place to visit if you want a breather from the beaches or the stifling city life, with promising prospects of peaceful meditations, visits to the Bodhi Tree Shrine, discussions with the monks about Buddhism, and getting blessing threads from the monks.

Matara Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: Uda Aparekka Rd, Aparekka, Sri Lanka

Website: Matara Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

7. Malambe Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Malabe


Malambe Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery is located close to the town of Colombo and it is a great destination for anyone keen on furthering their knowledge about Buddhism. It is comprised of a modern structure featuring a four-story shrine that was constructed as an offering to four groups of significant Buddhist figureheads.

The first floor contains the fully enlightened disciples of Buddha, while the second floor has Pacceka Buddhas – these are Buddhas that attained enlightenment without any teachings. On the third floor, you will find the last seven Buddhas to come into the world while the fourth, which is the last floor, has a stupa constructed for Buddha relics.

Malambe Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Address: New Kandy Rd B263, Malabe 10115, Sri Lanka

Website: Malambe Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery

Opening hours: 6am - 9:30pm (daily)

Price: Free

8. St. Benedict Monastery, Haputale

Adisham Bungalow
Source: Photo by user AntanO used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The St. Benedict Monastery of Adisham was built in 1931 in the form of a Tudor-style bungalow country house. Though not old or traditional like most of the monasteries you will encounter in Sri Lanka, it holds a vital piece of the catholic religion and it is also believed to house a relic – a bone chip of St Sylvester. The saint was the Bishop of Rome around 314 AD and he was the 33rd pope of the Catholic Church. Visit this monastery for its history and more insight into the catholic faith.

St. Benedict Monastery

Address: Adisham Bungalow, Adisham Rd, Haputale 90160, Sri Lanka

Website: St. Benedict Monastery

Opening hours: Sat, Sun & Tue: 9am - 4:30pm (closed on Mon, Wed, Thu & Fri)

Price: 1 USD

9. Asgiri Maha Viharaya, Kandy

Asgiriya Raja Maha Vihara, Gampaha 1
Source: Photo by user L Manju used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Asgiri Maha Viharaya is located in Kandy and it is regarded as the headquarters of the Asgiriya Chapter of Siyam Nikaya – this is one of the only two monasteries where the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is believed to have been kept. As such, it is a melting pot of Buddhist teachings, as well as important and vital insights about Lord Buddha.

Asgiri Maha Viharaya

Address: Asgiri Vihara Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Price: Free

10. Malwathu Maha Viharaya, Kandy

Posted by Bhagya C Travel & Photography on Saturday, 18 January 2020

Malwathu Maha Viharaya is another Buddhist monastery in Kandy and the other monastery that has the custodianship of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. The monastery, also known as the Malwatta Temple, is believed to have been constructed between 1473 and 1511. The initial intent for its construction was for it to be the home to just three monks, but it actually houses many.

A trip to this monastery is an awesome chance to delve into not only the history of the region, but also the important Buddhist teachings and ways of life.

Malwathu Maha Viharaya

Address: 10 Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

Opening hours: 6am - 9:30pm (daily)

Price: Free

Enjoy a fulfilling trip to these sacred sites

Sri Lanka - 052 - Golden Buddha temple, Dambulla (1685711187)
Source: Photo by user McKay Savage used under CC BY 2.0

When in Sri Lanka, don’t be too busy exploring waterfalls and other tourist attractions that you miss out on these interesting spots. Monasteries are among the most sacred sites for Buddhists. They hold significant religious and cultural importance to the people. Since they are open to all, read about the above amazing monasteries to visit in Sri Lanka, so you’ll know where to head to for some vital history and lessons about Buddhism.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

My name is Sharon, but I won't get offended if you called me Shaz. I live in the City in the Sun. I travel, interact with cultures, eat their foods, dance with them and then write about my...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Sri Lanka (all)
Good things are meant to be shared!