Maha Vishnu Temple (Maha Vishnu Devalaya)
Located within the grounds of Kandy’s Royal Palace, the Maha Vishnu Temple (Maha Vishnu Devalaya) is one of four holy devales (temples) linked to the palace’s Temple of the Tooth. This small complex is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, a Sri Lankan deity who is also considered the guardian of Buddhism, so it draws both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.
With its pavilion-style design—an echo of the rest of the Royal Palace—the Maha Vishnu Temple’s exterior belies its ornate and atmospheric interior. Worshippers and visitors enter via a brightly decorated 2-story entrance that opens to the main, timber-pillared hall. Carved stone steps from here lead to the drumming hall. Walk through the halls and terraces to appreciate the sense of calm and spirituality and to admire the doorways and walls—many featuring colorful reliefs and paintings depicting Vishnu and Hindu mythology.
Travelers wanting to experience the Maha Vishnu Temple should opt for a more culturally themed, in-depth Kandy tour—as opposed to the standard city highlights tours—that includes entry to the various shrines at the Royal Palace. Alternatively, choose a private city tour with a customizable itinerary and see the Maha Vishnu Devalaya after the Temple of the Tooth.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Maha Vishnu Devalaya will attract those interested in Sri Lanka’s religious and cultural heritage.
Entry is free, and you should allow about 15 minutes to wander around.
Visitors to the shrine must have their shoulders and knees covered.
Watch for the monkeys in the temple’s bo tree: They sometimes raid the foods left as offerings by the worshippers.
How to Get There
The Maha Vishnu Temple stands in a corner of Kandy’s Royal Palace enclosure, just northwest of the Temple of the Tooth. Handily, it’s just off the main pathway that leads out of the complex, so is easy to find.
When to Get There
The temple is open daily between sunrise and sunset, from around 5am to 7pm. If you’d like to visit during pujas (prayer times) to experience the chanting and watch pilgrims make offerings, aim to arrive at the opening time or about 10:30am or 6pm.
The Ramayana Cloth Painting
Don’t miss the Maha Vishnu Temple’s most prized treasure: a cloth painting depicting a scene from the Ramayana, the ancient epic poem of India. The painting shows Rama, the legendary prince of Kosala, battling the 10-headed demon king Ravana to save his wife, Sita, from his enemy’s clutches.
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