This beautifully sculpted white omnipresent Buddha Statue is 88 feet (about 27 meters) in height and depicts the Buddha in the posture of Dhyana Mudra (posture of meditation associated with the Buddha’s Enlightenment). It is one of the tallest Buddha Statues in Sri Lanka as well as a prominent landmark in Kandy City. The temple where the Buddha statue is located is Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya. But it is popular as Bahirawa Kanda (Gnome Mountain) Temple. This temple is situated at Bahirawakanda Road about two kilometers from Kandy City.
Majority of Buddhist temples in Kandy were constructed during the Kandyan Kingdom under the guidance of Kandyan Kings. But this temple was constructed in 1992 and was officially opened on January 1, 1993. The Temple was founded by Venerable Ampitiye Dhammarama Thero.
According to devotees, paying homage to the Bahirawa Kanda Vihara Buddha Statue is a pilgrimage as well as a soul-searching experience. For tourists, viewing the Buddha Statue renders a peaceful and serene experience. Visitors to the Temple are required to remove their hats and shoes before entering the premises.
There is a flight of steps to reach the Statue. Many devotees as well as tourists prefer to climb the stairs instead of using the road beside the Buddha Statue and the Temple. As the Buddha Statue is located on a mountain, the entire cityscape can be seen from its location. From the Temple, panoramic views of Kandy City, Peradeniya, Tea Museum as well as Bogambara Prisons can be seen.
There are many legends about Bahirawa Kanda Mountain. According to one legend, this mountain had been a place where human and animal sacrifices were held seeking protection from bahirawas (gnomes) which swarmed this mountain in the past. Hence, people did not visit or inhabit this area. Although, the mountain is situated in close proximity to Kandy City and it is a scenic location, people did not visit it due to fear. Hence, this temple was constructed to overcome the ill-effects of the gnomes. These legends are more superstitious and are not considered as reality.
Bahirawakanda Vihara (Temple) is a Theravada* Buddhist temple similar to other Buddhist Temples in Sri Lanka.
The best time to visit the temple and the Buddha Statue is at night when the statue is lit up and the city of Kandy is seen among twinkling lights.
Location: Bahirawa Kanda Road, Kandy
* Theravada Buddhism – more conservative form of Buddhism than the other form Mahayana Buddhism (which developed from Hinayana Buddhism, Sanskrit term meaning “small vehicle”), term given by followers of Mahayana Buddhism to the more conservative school of early Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism). Theravada Buddhism is practiced in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (former Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.