Thapowanaya Orphanage

Thapowanaya is a monastery, orphanage, and meditation center located near Colombo, Sri Lanka. Thapowanaya means "Forest Monastery."

Our long-awaited New Orphanage is now ready made possible by the donations of our patrons and friends. 


Thapowanaya was founded by the Most Venerable Kudawelle Vangeesa Maha Thero. He studied meditation under Venerable Mahashi Sayado, who came to Sri Lanka from Burma.

In 1960, he established a society called the Mathika Matha Society and sought a suitable headquarters for the many plans he had for religious and social activities.  By good fortune, a kind patron donated a rubber plantation close to the city of Colombo for this purpose. He set up his headquarters and he named it Gothama Thapowanaya in 1963.

He later expanded and developed the hermitage to a full-fledged monastery. 
In 1966 Venerable Vangeesa Maha Thero carefully selected eight boys who were ordained as the first set of student monks.

He then expanded Thapowanaya to include  branch meditation centers in other parts of Sri Lanka including: Kandy,. Kegalle, Mihintale, Padaviya, and Kataragama.   

After a long and fruitful life of social work and religious activity, the Venerable Vangeesa passed away peacefully in July 1982. His chief student Venerable D. Chandrasiri Maha Thero, the present chief monk (Sangha Nayake) of the Sri Kalyaniwanse Chapter, assumed his work and responsibilities.  

Venerable D. Chandrasiri Maha Thero chose Venerable Mithabani Maha Thero to be responsible for developing and continuing the social and religious activities at Thapowanaya.


Today, Gothama Thapowanaya takes pride in accomplishing the mission started by the late Venerable Vangeesa.  The monastery is a pleasing and peaceful site for all who visit. 

Among the services of this forest monastery are: 
  • the Boys Home,
  • the vocational training school
  • a dormitory for more than thirty student monks
  • the Pirivena, an orientation school for student monks,
  • a dormitory for female disciples who study meditation.
 All of these achievements are made possible by the efforts of the Venerable Thapowanaye Mithabani Maha Thero, one of the original eight student monks at Thapowanaya.

Venerable Mithabani Maha Thero has dedicated his life to helping the poor and downtrodden in addition to meeting his religious obligations as a member of the Sangha, and is well known throughout Asia for his kindess, knowledge of Buddhism,  and  teaching skills in the areas of meditation and Dhamma.


A shining example of  the work of Venerable Mithabani Maha Thero is the Kumara Kasyapa Boys Home, located near the hermitage approximately fifteen kilometers from the city of Colombo.
The orphanage began in 1970 with five boys and now provides shelter, food, education, and recreation for forty boys who are orphans. The boys are well looked after at the Home and provided with moral guidance and valuable skills for adult life. 

The Venerable  Mithabani Maha Thero set up a vocational training center on the premises of the Home, which has been critical to the futures of the boys once they leave the Home. 

He has also set up a second vocational training center at Kataragama, a small town in a remote Southern province of Sri Lanka, to benefit boys over the age of sixteen.  In this isolated area modern educational facilities are not easily available. 

The training center benefits both orphans who reach adult age as well as poor boys from the nearby areas. Over the years, the training center has been the only source of workforce development skills for many in the area who have been able to attain good jobs as a result. 

Social Services

In Kataragama and its surrounding areas, the Venerable monk’s name is a household word. He is always sought when help is needed and on many occasions he has been the sole source of aid to the poor and destitute in every stage of life from children to families in desperation to the elderly in their last moments. 

For example, in 2003, the Venerable Thero and a group of Singaporean donors organized a massive distribution of food parcels in this distant area. For this event, 3000 of the poorest families were selected to receive donations.  In April 2004, the Venerable Mithabani Thero made arrangements to distribute 2000 packages of dry rations to the poor and destitute in this region. 

Meditation Training

Thapowanaya and the branch meditation centers centers function today as leading schools of meditation and
perform numerous critical services to the Buddhist populations in surrounding areas. They also attract a large number of foreign visitors who seek knowledge of Buddhism and the solace of meditation.  


Please contact Reverand Mithabani for information on individualized meditation programs,  Dhamma teachings, and for ways in which you can support the Boy's Home.

mithabani *at* 

Subpages (1): Capital Campaign