The Sudharmalaya Temple is a Buddhist temple situated within the Galle Fort, which is one of Sri Lanka’s five UNESCO world heritage sites. It sits at the heart of the fort’s main western street (called Rampart Street) opposite the Clippenberg Bastion.
A statue of a sitting Buddha outside the small white-painted temple faces the sea over the bastion. Inside, the Sudharmalaya Temple contains a prayer hall, a mini stupa that dates as far back as 1889, a large statue of a reclining Lord Buddha as well as several smaller statues. There is also a small belfry atop the temple’s prayer hall, which may indicate that the building was once used as a church. Today, in addition to the temple’s regular activities, yoga classes are conducted within the temple’s prayer hall.
The Galle Fort is home to a multi-faith community that live together in harmony, and the temple is one of the three major religious buildings that cater to them, the others being a mosque and a church. More than half of the population are Muslims, who attend the Meeran Mosque located at the end of Rampart Street, opposite the Galle Lighthouse. Meanwhile, a five-minute walk from the temple, the Groote Kerk (or Dutch Reformed Church) caters to the percentage of the population who follow the Christian faith. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the UN, visited the Galle Fort in 2016 and sat with the local religious leaders; he was said to have been very impressed with the peaceful nature of the interfaith community who lived there.