Kandy Temples

Kandy is studded with temples. The Sacred Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) at the heart of the city is the holiest temple in the world of Theravada Buddhism. The city of Kandy and countryside of Kandy boast of numerous temples and shrines that belong to Kandyan era of Sri Lanka.

Among the most interesting temple are Gadaladeniya, Embekke Devale and Lankathilaka Viharaya located 10km west of Kandy built during the time Kandyan kingdom was ruled from the city of Gampola.To the east of Kandy within 2km are another three important temples: Gangarama Viharaya, Degaldoruwa Viharaya and Galmaduwa Gedige.

Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya, Kandya

Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya, Kandy is built on a rock at the village of Gadaladeniya on the border of Udunuwara and Yatinuwara. of Kandy District. Gadaladeniya is a popular village that produces traditional metalwork ornaments of Sri Lanka.

According to an inscription at the site, Gadaladeniya temple was built by King Bhuvenkabahu the 4th in the year 1344 A.D. According to the inscription, the temple was named Dharmakirti Viharaya after the name of the Buddhist monk who founded it. A couple of Buddhist literary works titled “The Nikaya Sangrahaya” and “Saddharmalankaraya” had named the temple “Saddharmatilaka” and “Gadaladeniya Viharaya” respectively.
Gadaladeniya was home to the celebrated scholor monks Daharamakirti the second and Vimakiriti the first whose contributions towards the literary development of the times was of immense value to the nation.
The temple remained neglected till the time of King Narendrasinghe who dedicated the shrine to Velivita Sangharaja and since then the temple was in the custody of his papillary succession.

Embekke Devale, Kandy

Embekke Devale shrine is located in the village of Embekke close to Daulgala of Udunuwara division, about eight miles from Kandy.

The entrance
The vahalkada or the entrance porch of the devale also has 16 wooden pillars with some of the finest wood carvings, including a carving of a “mother and child”.

The roof of the shrine is of great significance. The roof without a central beam, holds together 26 rafters of the roof by means of Madol Kurupuwa, a giant wooden pin, a fine example of medieval carpentry. The ingenious example of classic carpentry resembles spokes in the wheel of a cart. The giant pin is carved too with traditional designs.

Lankatilake Viharya,Kandy

Lankatilake Viharyais located at Handessa, 12km from the Peradeniya bridge in Kandy district.

Lankatilake Viharya built on the summit of a rock called Panhalgala provides a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding hills, paddy fields and the diverse vegetation around it. On the temple premises are the shrine, stupa and a Bodhi tree.

The temple has the same name as the well-known construction of Parakramabahu I at Polonnaruwa. This is a religious devotion of Senalankadhikara, a minister of Bhuvanaikabahu IV of Gampola in 1344 CE. Further establishments in the form of stucco work carried out by the King, Parakramabahu VI of Kotte (1412-1467 CE). The building was four storeyed during its glorious days. However, today there is only the ground floor and a part of the first floor.

Art and Architecture
Lankatilake Viharya is built of brick and granite on an uneven rock surface with a cruciform ground plan. The square sanctuary is ringed by an outer casing wall leaving a circumambulatory space alone three sides. In the words of Dr. Senerath Paranavitana, the architecture is “essentially a continuation and development of the Sinhalese architecture of the Polonnaruwa period with some Dravidian and Indo-Chinese features”.

A flight of stairs cut into the rock surface of the premises leads to the main entrance of the temple. On either side of the entrance are gajasimhas (Elephant-lion) sculptures. Then an arched passage with Makara Torana (Dragon Arch) on the exterior wall, well decorated carved with Gandharva and Gaja-Lakshmi leads to pavilion and through it to an inner chamber. The 24 Buddhas that preceded Gautama Buddha are exquisitely painted on the walls and ceiling. In a chamber is a colossal statue of seated Buddha under a beautiful dragon arch. Images of deities Upulvan, Saman and Vibhisana occupy the niches on the south, west and north respectively. The deity Skanda is accommodated to the north of entrance separated by a wall.

Degaldoruwa Viharaya,Kandy

Degaldoruwa Viharaya is located at the village of Amunugama, 7km from Kandy.

Degaldoruwa Viharaya is set up on terrace of a low rocky outcrop into another rock mass rising to a height of 40 feet. Alongside the temple is an impressive belfry. The main chamber is created by creating a large cavity under a large granite rock A path carved of rock leads to a higher terrace where the Bo tree and the stupa is located.

Art and Architecture
Degaldoruwa Viharaya is a Cave Temple with Kandyan era Paintings and Architecture. The arch at the entrance painted in white is in sharp contrast with the murals. The rock cut chamber consists of two roofed antechambers: a drumming hall and an intermediate vestibule. Degaldoruwa Viharaya is a treasure trove of murals: the rock walls and ceilng are recognized as some of the best examples of the Kandyan era paintings.