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Kelaniya that can be reached by Peliyagoda Biyagama Road is connected to Colombo by the main A1 Colombo-Kandy motor road as well as by railway line.
Kelaniya is a much adored modern town with a glorious history: the ancient city blessed with the visit of Buddha (5th century BC) was the hometown of Hero of the Nation, King Dutugamunu (1st century BC).
Kelaniya is home to the most venerated and most beautiful Buddhist temple of the Colombo district. It is built right on the banks of River Kelaniya where the ancient stupas stood in great splendor. The earliest temples were destroyed by the marauding Dravidian armies from South India and later stupas by the Portuguese.
The ancient city of Kelaniya, or as it was known as Kalyani (Sinhala: beauty) is located on the banks of River Kelani which flows into the sea at Colombo. During the 15th century, Kelaniya had been described in the Sandesa Kavyas (Sinhala: epic poems) as the loveliest city of the region. The epic poems found conveyance in the carrier pigeons, as such, the bird’s eye view of the Kelaniya temple by the banks of a broad and swift river rushing to the seaport of Colombo wouldn’t have been missed by the medieval poets.
The ancient, medieval and modern literary heritage of the city that gave birth to historic Vidyalankara Buddhist Pirivena (Sinhala: academy) a great national centers of traditional higher learning, heralding the first phase of the nationalist renaissance following the independence from the colonial British rulers in 1948, resulted in the emergence of University of Kelaniya, today located at Kelaniya, by the Colombo-Kandy Road.
During the months of November/December, Sinhalese Buddhists in great throngs visit Kelaniya to witness the spectacle of great Duruthu Maha Perahera Buddhist Pageant of Kelaniya held every year.