Meditating above water

Whenever I pass Beira lake in Colombo, I am always drawn to the wooden bridge and temple in the middle of the lake. However, it was often a place I usually hurried by on the way somewhere, as it  was in the midst of the commercial part of the capital. Then, one day, my mother asked me to take her there during her birthday week. I think she realized that unless she requested, I might simply go on passing the place without stopping there. Whatever the reason, we finally visited the lovely Seema Malakaya early one morning.


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According to the Gangaramaya temple website, the area was once a swamp before being converted to the picturesque spot that it is now. The Seema Malakaya is part of the Gangaramaya temple which is famous for its annual ‘perahera’ (festive Buddhist temple religious procession) during the months of February or March. What I found fascinating is the aesthetic sense of the place, designed by Geoffrey Bawa. Bawa was a renowned Sri Lankan architect whose signature trademark was his emphasis on spaces and natural light.


The meditation hall was surrounded by statues of Buddha by the edge of the water, which was what had attracted me in the first place. There is something very peaceful about being in the midst of water. The pavilion felt like a calm oasis despite its bustling commercial neighbourhood.
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For me, what I found most intriguing was that the Seema Malakaya combines aspects of different religions. Built through a donation by a Muslim couple – S.H.Moosajee and his wife – in memory of their son, the pavilion itself combines Hindu deities together with the statues of Buddha.
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The smaller pavilion on one side of the meditation hall has a Bo tree, which is from a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. The Sri Maha Bodhi is an ancient Bo tree, that is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage spot in Sri Lanka, because it is a tree grown from the sapling of the Bo tree under which Buddha obtained enlightenment. The sapling was brought to Sri Lanka by Sangamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka. Surrounding the tree at Seema Malakaya are more peaceful Buddha statues.


At the four corners of the smaller pavilion which has the Bo tree and the chaithya, are the shrines for Hindu deities including Pillaiyar and Murugan.


When one walks across to the other side of the meditation hall, one sees a tiny pavilion with a small wooden house marked ‘Treasury of Truth.’ I was curious about what the truth treasury held and found it locked.
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Perhaps it is fitting that the place is always kept locked. Where would humankind be if truth became a way of life for all.

Sometimes, you pass by something beautiful in your own city so often that you hardly bother to take a moment to pause and appreciate its beauty. Something which you would do automatically when you are a traveller exploring another city or country. I am glad my mother requested me to take her there for her birthday because not only did I finally get to explore the place but also create a special memory there with my mother.
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[As I am merging my Sri Lanka-focused travel blog with my Perspectives Quilt blog over the course of the coming months, I am transferring some of my favourite posts from there to here]

I am linking this post with City Tripping #29 hosted this week by Clare@Suitcases and Sandcastles and The Weekly Postcard, hosted by Anda@Travel Notes and Beyond.

Wander Mum
Travel Notes & Beyond
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18 thoughts on “Meditating above water

  1. You’re right. It’s so easy not to see things that are part of your everyday route to work or somewhere that you travel so often that you forget to look at the details. How great that you finally got to see this special place properly. I particularly like the story of the Bo tree. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping.

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    • The Bo tree plays a significant role in Sri Lanka, so I am usually interested in knowing the story behind the tree, particularly the one in Anuradhapura. Thanks for hosting City Tripping this week, Clare.

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  2. I love this story – it’s so easy to forget what’s right on our own doorstep, I know I’m guilty of always looking further afield and overlooking the things people travel to my city to see. I did love Sri Lanka but passed out of Colombo quite quickly, so my main memory is lots of traffic, bustle and heat on the way from the airport – what a lovely tranquil spot to discover, and such an interesting history. #citytripping

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    • Thanks, Cathy. There is so much to see outside of Colombo so it makes sense for travelers to move on quickly than be caught in the congestion of the capital. However, for those spending a couple of days in the city, there are a few gems worth exploring.

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  3. What a lovely and peaceful spot, especially to share with your mother. Funny how I just read your comment on my blog and hopped over here and see that we’ve both posted about a little slice of oasis in the middle of a bustling city..sometimes being in such a dense area makes it all the more special and appreciated. #citytripping

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    • Yes, Corey, it is a peaceful spot and I think it is important to find a slice of oasis, especially in a bustling city, that one can escape to and find refuge once in while.

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  4. Seema Malakaya seems so peaceful! It’s good that your mother asked you to stop at this lovely place. It’s surprising how sometimes you discover an oasis of peace in the middle of a busy city. Thank you for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    • Thank you for hosting #TheWeeklyPostcard, Anda. I came across the linkup only recently through a post of ‘As we saw it’ on travel linkups and I have been enjoying reading others’ travel experiences since then.

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  5. I love the idea of having a sanctuary with such a multi-religious aspect in the middle of a hectic city. Glad too that you are merging your blogs. I had not realized you have been running two. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    • I guess I had wanted to run a Sri Lanka themed travel blog as I do a Sri Lankan cuisine food blog. However, I did not seem to have enough energy or time to run three blogs simultaneously and it seemed easier+practical to bring all my travel writing under this blog, Perspectives Quilt. By the way, thanks, Linda, for putting up the travel linkups post. Until I came across your post a few weeks back, I had no idea about the interesting travel linkups happening each week.

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