Ancient Temple Tour

Day trip to Gadaladeniya, Embekka and Lankathilake Ancient Temples

Ancient Temple Tour - Gadaladeniya Temple

The ancient monastery is located on a small hilltop at Diggala. In accordance to the Gadaladeniya inscription reveals that the temple was built by King Buwanekabahu 4 in the year 1344. South Indian architect ‘Ganesvachari’ designed the temple site considering characteristically South Indian architectural feature. The hilltop gives you a panoramic out view to the entire site. You will find a dagoba to the right side from the entrance and four another small dagobas. Some say that the stupa was constructed by King 5th Parakramabahu. There is a roof covering the dagoba standing on four pillars. This structure is called Vijayothpaya or Vijayantha prasada. The seated Buddha statue with four another standing Buddha statues can be worshipped in the main vihara geya (image house) of the temple. The building is covered with a temporary roof because the temple is under restoration now.

The frescoes and interior sculptures belonged to Kandyan period depicting Jataka stories of Lord Buddha seem to be fading. The makara thorana (dragon arch) is embellished with gods like brahma, Sathusta, Suyama and Natha mentioning South Indian architecture. Close to the image house is a shrine room dedicated to God Vishnu. The great chronicle of ancient Sri lanka, ‘Mahavansa’ proclaims that ‘Upulwan deviyo’ was appointed to save Buddhism in Sri lanka. As a result of that it is believed God Vishnu awakened the Buddhism of Sri Lanka. Beside the Bo tree you can see the Gadaladeniya inscription carved into the rock. By the way it is covered with a fence to prevent damaging.

Hence the temple of Gadaladeniya is subscribed towards the literary development of Sri lanka. Yet the temple was abandoned King Viraparakrama narendra singha (1707-1739 A.D)handed over it to Velivita Sri Saranankara Sangaraja thero due to the great service made for our nation. Somehow the temple is a sheer beauty perched on the Rocky boulder. It will be impressive if you could visit the temple. It will not be better to visit the temple at noon; perhaps it will fell so hot in the noon.

Ancient Temple Tour - Embekke Devalaya

Places like Embekke devalaya in Kandy attract tourists to Sri lanka upon the whole. Though much attention has not paid by the averaged tourist about the history of this place this would have been the finest wood carving work in Sri lanka. The Devalaya located in the Udu nuwara divisional secretariat was constructed by King Vikramabahu 3 (1357-1374 A.D) during the Gampola reign.

According to the historical records it was built around 1370’s. The Embekke devala is an edifice to worship Mahasen so called as Kataragama deviyo. Simultaneously there are 3 sections of the holy place. In detail they are Hevisi mandapaya (drummer’s hall), Digge (dancing hall) and sanctum or Garagha.

The temple site was designed by a drummer called Rangama and the queen of Vickramabahu 1 named Henakanda Biso bandara. Earlier the Devalaya was a three storied one but today you can see the spectacular carvings of the remaining. It is highlighted in the ‘Embekke Devala varbnanava’ about this construction and the great Sri lankan architecture used. The great Embekke devalaya became more famous because of the exquisite and intricate wood carvings on the pillars of the drummer’s hall. Since Embekke devalaya was declared as a national heritage site it has become a high ranked tourism destination of Sri lanka. As soon as you enter the Devalaya these wood carvings in the pillars and roof are amazing.

Carvings of wooden flowers, swans, and mythical animals underneath the Devala roof are proved to be hypnotized. Even the nails used to build the columns also wooden nails. The annual Perahera is a special function which takes place. Many tourists are cotton on to see the drummers, traditional dancers, beautifully decorated elephants and whip crackers. The remaining carved timber pillars and beams were built during the supremacy of King Rajadhi rajasingha.

Being an monument of kandiyan wood carving the Devala site is open to the public. But remember not to enter the location with your shoes and slippers. Each carving has a historical value, name and a story. 126 different decorations, 256 patterns of ‘liyawel’ and 64 lotus flower designs are the features used by the craftsman. Even few of the floral designs are added in to the Ordinary level syllabus. You can also visit the ‘Sinhasana mandapa’ few meters away from the Devalaya which the king used to sit at his throne and watch the Perahera

Ancient Temple Tour - Lankathilaka Viharaya

Since the focus towards the world heritage site Kandy has increased, Lankathilaka viharaya is a place must to be visited without denying. The temple was built by king Buvanekabahu 4 around the 14th century. The architect of the building has used bricks and clay to erect. The chief minister of the kingdom, ‘Senalankadikara’ had to carry out the construction process of the temple.

It is believed that the south Indian architect, ‘Sathapati rayar’ has illustrated and created the designs, concocting Sinhalese architecture with Dravidian and Indo Chinese architectural patterns. Significantly Lankathilaka viharaya differs from other monumental shrines, temples and religious destinations made during the kandian kingdom. Never the less it has earned a reputation among the travelers as a characteristically Sinhalese architectural feature. Outer walls of the Lankathilaka viharaya are embellished with traditional Sinhala sculptures. Evidence archeologists say that they belong to the Pollonnaruwa kingdom. By the way the temple was revamped several times by King Vijayabahu 4. A long passage to the statue will guide you to the place. Firstly this image house was a four storied mansion (recorded in the Lankatilake copper plaque), but today you can see just 3 stories.

Two huge pillars are built beside the entrance to the building (today these have been broken down). The remaining stone doorway arch is another curious feature. You will get attracted as soon as you find the ‘Mandapaya’ where 40 festooned pillars made of stone. The Buddha statue plus 24 previous Buddha statues guarded by the Makara thorana should be worshipped peacefully. But the moonstone, two balustrades, Makara thorana made on the way to the Buddha image house is so unique. Whereas the temple is built on a rocky outcrop a decorous atmosphere is offered to the devotees and the tourists. Murals, paintings, frescoes and sculptures adorned with vivid colors can be explored all day long. At the same time God Vishnu, ganapathi, saman, Vibishana and Kumara bandara can be worshipped in the Lankathilaka viharaya. God Kumara bandara is believed to be the assigned caretaker of the viharaya.

Local devotees visit the viharaya and worship the dagoba, sacred bo tree and the Buddha sri pathula (a large stone image of the lord Buddha’s footprint). The Lankatilake rock inscription cut into the rock proclaims the initiators of the temple and the support and conveniences provided by the kings.

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