Could anyone provide links and/or info about Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka that offer extended meditation retreats?

For those who have taken part in such retreats, how was the experience? Would it be challenging in any way for me, an American, who has never been to Asia before, to travel there/adapt to the culture?

Thank you

  • Do you have reasons to choose Sri Lanka over Burma or Thailand?
    – Buddho
    Oct 1, 2015 at 5:35
  • Aren't these countries mainly practice Mahayana and Sri Lanka is the main country for Theravada ? Oct 1, 2015 at 5:39
  • I don't think it won't be any problem to adapt to the culture here in Sri Lanka. The real challenge would be to learn, understand and practice in Buddhism. Oct 1, 2015 at 6:00
  • @Buddho I don't have a preference for the country, really. I have just heard that Sri Lanka is a good place to go. What would you recommend?
    – Ian
    Oct 1, 2015 at 13:06

5 Answers 5


Please refer these links.



You can google for these links. Please do some background checks, before you go there. False teachers can be exists like infamous 'Pitiduwe Siri Damma'.

  • Awesome, thanks for the info. I'm curious- what is the story behind this "Pitiduwe Siri Damma"?
    – Ian
    Oct 1, 2015 at 13:09
  • 1
    I wouldn't recommend Mahamevnawa. There have been lots of controversy about what they teach. Oct 1, 2015 at 15:12
  • 1
    @SankhaKulathantille Me neither. :)
    – dmsp
    Oct 1, 2015 at 16:28
  • @Ian He's a monk who claims he's an Arahant, nobody believes him though.
    – dmsp
    Oct 1, 2015 at 16:47
  • 1
    @dmsp, Well, his preaching, his behavior does not follow what we know and believe about Arahant. He (apparently anyone) can be logical. That does not imply all logical things are true. I removed Mahawevnawa as of you stated Oct 2, 2015 at 1:52

I've heard Mithrigala Nissarana Vanaya is a good place. I don't know if they do long retreats but most monasteries will accommodate the sincere aspirants.

In Burma, I've personally hoped to someday spend a long retreat at Panditarama (Vipassana) and/or Pa Auk (Samatha).

In Thailand I've considered Wat Chom Tong near Chiang Mai.

There's also the Panditarama center in Nepal.

The Goenka centers are located around the world, as well as in the above countries, but they are aplenty in India, including at Bodh Gaya. They do 45-60 day retreats, but one needs to work up to it over a few years since they require one to have graduated several preparatory retreats.

The above are all Theravada retreats. If one is interested in the Mahayana tradition I would unhesitatingly recommend Plum Village in France.


Rathmalkanda Meditation Center

Meditation Techniques

  • Vipassana(Mahasi Sayadaw)
  • Samatha(Anapanasati/ Kasina)

I stayed there for a short period about 8 years ago. You have to call the number in the website and book in advance. Mostly foreigners come to meditate there. Its free of charge but donations are accepted. Interactions with the locals are minimal. So you wouldn't face any cultural difficulties. The food is quite good. It is situated at a cold mountain area. So you neither need A/C nor have to worry about mosquitoes and snakes. Rooms are clean, spacious and have electricity. The beds are comfortable with warm blankets. There are several mats lying on the floor as well. The bathrooms are western style with hot showers.

Attire: Anything that is decent. It doesn't have to be white.

Rules: Keep quiet and keep clean.

Sila: Eight Precepts (you will be given refreshments in the evening. You can bring a snack to eat at nights if you find it hard to keep to the 6th precept)

Usually I got meditation instructions after the breakfast or lunch. In the evening you can meet venerable Madawala Upali(the head monk) to have a Dhamma discussion. He speaks English well. If you are into Abhidhamma or a fan of modern science, you will enjoy the talks as he was a former science teacher and a visiting lecturer of Buddhist philosophy at the Kelaniya University

Course duration: 2 weeks. But you can stay longer or leave before.


Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma are the main three Theravada Countries. In Sri Lanka: Venerable Katukurunde Nananada Thero's Monastery (http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net), Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya (Burmese Panditarama tradition) are for serious practitioners.

  1. Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya

    • Teacher- Ven. Udairiyagama Dhammajiva Maha Thero (U Dhammajiva Sayadaw), Excellent knowledge in Dhamma, Pali, Burmese and English, Specialty in Mindfulness and emphasizes the value of mindfulness
    • Meditation Technique - Satipatthana meditation, Burmese Mahasi/Panditarama Technique (Vipassana) and Sri Lankan Nanarama Method (Vipassana with Samatha)
    • Retreats - 3 days, 7 days, 10 days, 20 days and extensive periods are allowed for serious practitioners and for the meditators who are expecting the ordaination
    • Location - Mitirigala,Kirindivela, Sri Lanka
    • More Information - nissarana.lk (Official Website)
  2. Sanghopasthana Suva Sevana

    • Teacher- Ven. Katukurunde Nyanananda Maha Thero (Bhikkhu Nanananda) [A famous book author and a meditation master], Excellent knowledge in Dhamma, Pali and English, Advises not to be in a hurry but to practice Samatha also for aiding Vipassana, Slowly-Mindfully-Carefully. Appreciates dedication for practicing.

    • Meditation Technique - Both Samatha and Vipassana, Metta Meditation and probably Sri Lankan Nanarama Method (Vipassana with Samatha)

    • Retreats - Any time is possible with prior notice. No allocated dates. special consideration for dedicated meditators and dedicated practitioners who are expecting the ordaination.
    • Location - Kirillawala Watta, Dammulla, Karandana, Sri Lanka
    • More Information - http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net (Official Website)

These are two prominent places in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka offers 1 year residence visa easily if you have a recommendation beforehand. Normally in Sri Lanka, temporary ordination is discouraged but permanent ordination is possible at anytime.

Additionally there are more meditation centers which are famous in different aspects. NaUyana Aranya in Melsiripura (Burmese Pa-auk system), Kanduboda M.C. (Burmese Mahasi System), Goenka centers in Kandy, Anuradhapura and Kosgama (Burmese Sayagi U Ba Kin system)

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