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Meditation Centres in Sri Lanka

by Andrew Quernmore

There are many meditation centres throughout Sri Lanka, most of which offer tuition in Sinhala only. The places listed below represent those where at least one teacher can communicate in clear English.

Kanduboda Meditation Centre

Tel. 01 445518 or 01 570306

Located 16 miles from Colombo, accessible by bus route 224 (Colombo/Pugoda).
Started in 1956, and offers Vipassana instruction in the style of Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma.

The centre can accommodate up to 70 meditators at a time. Accommodation, meals and services are offered free of charge, the centre being funded by donation. Meditators must dress in white throughout their stay (White clothing is available for foreigners). Meditators can stay for a number of weeks or months, and help can be given with visa extensions. It is recommended that meditators undergo an initial training period of 3 weeks at the centre. Tuition continues throughout the year, but as the centre can be full at times (particularly around poya days) it is wise to telephone ahead.

Nilambe Meditation Centre

Near Kandy

The teacher, until his death in March 2000, at this centre was Godwin Samararatne, a layman with extensive experience of teaching both in Sri Lanka and abroad. Godwin's style was firmly within the Buddhist tradition but with an emphasis on metta (loving-kindness) and mindfulness in daily life. The emphasis at the centre under teacher Upul Gamage continues to stress these aspects. The centre is in beautiful surroundings above a tea plantation outside of Kandy. Meditators are expected to adhere to the outline schedule:

04.45 Wake up
05.00 Group Meditation
06.00 Tea
06.30 Hatha Yoga
07.30 Breakfast
08.30 Working Meditation
09.30 Group Meditation
11.00 Individual and Outdoor Meditation
12.00 Lunch
12.30 Rest/Reading (Library open 12.30pm-1.30pm)
14.30 Group Meditation
16.00 Tea/Developing Right Speech
16.30 Hatha Yoga
17.30 Watching the sunset/Individual Meditation
18.30 Chanting and Group Meditation
19.30 Snack
20.00 Discussion or Talk (not every day)
21.00 Take Rest

On Poya (full moon) days there is an optional Group Meditation through the night. On the quarter and half moon days there is an optional extended Group Meditation until midnight.

The centre is easily reached by bus from Kandy. Buses for Galaha pass Nilambe Office Junction (about 17km). From there it is a steep walk (or rickshaw ride) through tea plantations to reach the centre. Alternatively, taxis or autorickshaws are available from Kandy. Autorickshaws are generally available from the bottom of the office junction, at Nilambe. It is a good idea to contact the centre in advance to let them know when you will be arriving. Advice can also be sought from the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy.

Meditators stay from one night to several years, and the centre can help long term meditators with visa extensions. Accommodation at the centre is in single or shared rooms. The centre has no electricity supply, and conditions are adequate but basic. Although this is a lay centre, often there are members of the Sangha undertaking personal retreats at Nilambe.

The centre charges a small amount per day to foreigners to cover accommodation and food. Sri Lankans may offer donations instead. The majority of longer-term meditators are Westerners, but many Sri Lankans also use the centre (particularly around Poya days). Teaching is available in English and Sinhala from the resident teachers. There is a good library of books and tapes in English and Sinhala.

Dekanduwala Meditation Centre


Inquiries and bookings should be made through: Buddhist Cultural Centre, 125 Anderson Road, Nedimala, Dehiwala. Tel: 734256.

This is a newer Vipassana centre catering mainly to Sri Lankan meditators. English and Sinhala are both spoken by the monk-in-charge, and foreign meditators are welcome. Transport regularly leaves the BCC in Dehiwala (outskirts of Colombo) to go to the meditation centre, and the BCC should be able to arrange an interview with the teacher beforehand should this be required. The meditation centre is also accessible by bus from Colombo. The centre is under the direction of Ven. K Wimalajothi.

Dhamma Kuta

Galaha Road
Tel: 08-234649

A meditation centre which follows the instruction of S.N.Goenka. Regular 10 day courses in Goenkaji’s vipassana method take place at the centre. Please telephone for dates. Instruction is with the aid of tapes, and assistant teachers are in attendence. Goenka follows the technique introduced by U Ba Khin of Burma. After instruction in Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), the meditator moves on to a form of 'sweeping' meditation, whereby mindfulness of the sensations arising and ceasing in the body lead to an understanding of anicca (impermanance), and through that an understanding of dukkha and anatta. Instruction is available in Sinhala and English. No fees are charged, donations welcome. See for more details on this and other Goenka centres worldwide.

Lewella Meditation Centre

160 Dharmasoka Mawatha
Tel: 081-4921814
E-mail: lewella.meditation/AT/
( - replace /AT/ with @ when sending mail)

A centre for experienced male meditators, and for the study of Buddhism, situated on the outskirts of Kandy. In addition to rooms within the centre several individual retreat kutis (huts) are available on the edge of the Udawattakelle forest reserve.

Other Buddhist Resources in Sri Lanka

All Ceylon Buddhist Congress
380 Bauddhaloka Mw
Colombo 7
Tel: 01-691695/688517

Bhikku Training Centre
Lake Road
Tel: 01-850207

Buddhist Theosophical Society
203 Olcott Mw
Colombo 11
Tel 01-323085

Institute for Buddhist Studies
(Dhammaratna Memorial Meditation & Foreign Languages)
Tel: 034-6131

Buddhist & Pali University
Pitipana North

Buddhist & Pali University (Colombo Office)
214 Bauddhaloka Mw
Colombo 07.

Buddhist Library
20 Magazine Road
Colombo 8
Tel: 01-696030

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Dhamma Essay:
To Control One's Mind by Ayya Khema

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