For those who wish to catch a glimpse of Kandyan architecture and culture Embekke Devalaya, Lankathilaka and Gadaladeniya temples are the most attractive temples that is shortest in distance from Wirawa Bungalow.
Embekke Devalaya – comprises carved wooden pillars with engravings of swans, lions, bulls, elephants and other such animals. On these pillars you will often find motifs like leaves, flowers, soldiers, dancing women and even mermaids. There are a total of 128 carvings on these pillars. Most of these carvings are presumably the work of the ancient artisan, Devendra Mulachari. 16 wooden pillars adorn the entrance of the Embekke Devalaya in Kandy. The temple is in two segmented buildings, the Digge (Dancing Hall) and Drummers Hall (Hewasi Mandappaya). The ‘digge’ is 52 feet, 10 inches long and 25 feet, 9 inches wide. UNESCO has accredited the site as the abode of rare specimens of fine wooden carvings in the world.
Among such wonderful carvings, what attracts most is the elephant-bull carving and that of the elephant with its elongated trunk which is mystically manifested. When one covers with one’s palm, the figure of the carving resembling part bull, the real figure of the elephant with elongated trunk is manifested, while when one does the same with that of the elephant there emerges like magic the figure of the bull!
The roof of the Embekke Devale bears some ingenuous revelations of classic carpentry masterpieces in fixing the rafters. The ‘Madol Kurupuwa’ is one of the finest examples of medieval carpentry excellence. It is a wooden pin (this Madol Kurupuwa) which holds together 26 rafters at the hipped end of the roof of the Digge of Embekke Devale.
Many are the hoary legends that tell of the origins of this splendid devale. According to archaic documents and the epic Embekke Varnanawa composed by Delgahagoda Mudiyanse, it was built during the Gampola period of King Wickrema Bahu II (1371 AD). One of his consorts named Henakanda Biso Bandara, in association with a drummer named as Rangama, as told in a miraculous dream, is supposed to have built this Devale dedicated to God Kataragama in a superb three-storeyed building which is now no more.
The Lankathilaka Temple – is built on a rocky outcrop, this 13th century temple is reached by a long series of steps cut directly into the rock. A cruciform brick building in three storeys, the Lankathilaka Temple in Kandy has an exclusive architectural design. The temple is full of exquisite painted scenes of the lives of 24 former Buddhas and there is a colossal seated image of the Buddha.
At the entrance of the building there are two huge pillars. Presently the pillars have broken down and reduced to a height of 58 ft. Initially, the height of these pillars was almost twice the existing one. In the shrine rooms of the Lankathilaka Viharaya, Kandy there is an intricate designing of stonework and also of wood for the four gods who are guarding the building. The outer walls of Lankathilaka Viharaya are adorned with sculpture which is very delicate in nature. The sculpture portrays diverse buildings of the Polonnaruwa period. There is a pillared “mandapaya” rite in front of the structure. It consists of 40 festooned pillars made purely out of stone. This temple has an exclusive architectural design. It is very much different from the other buildings of its era. As a result it attracts a number of tourists from different corners of the world.
The Gadaladeniya temple – is situated at Pilimatalawa on the Kandy-Colombo Road is built almost exclusively out of stone in 1344 by the Gampola King Wickramabahu, situated on a hilltop, commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
The architecture is Dravidian. The entrance porch features large stone pillars, which support a roof of huge stone slabs. Within the vihara, an ancient stone and plaster image of the Buddha looks down upon milk rice pots that have collected food offerings for centuries. The 638-year-Old jack wood doors still exhibit their original paintings.
How to get there from Wirawa
22 kms (50 Minutes) drive by vehicle. Embekke Devalaya is a slight detour from the main route to Kandy via Gampola. Guests could also proceed on to see the Gadaladeniya and Lankathilaka Temples a short distance away from the Embekke Temple.