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VISIT TO THREE TEMPLES

Visiting three of the most ancient and historically important temples that are within an easy walking distance to another is a memorable expedition for a heritage lover.  The three temples (Embekke, Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya) have been built in the 14th century before the Kandyan Kingdom was fully established. Embekke is famous for the intricately carved wooden pillars of its bigger, or drum hall. each pillar had a different pattern carved into each of its four sides. peacocks entwined swans, wrestlers, dragons, dancers, horsemen and soldiers. Lankatilake is perhaps the finest temple in the district. An impressively solid-looking structure built on a huge rock outcrop and painted a pale blue rather than the usual white. Gadaladeniya built on a rocky outcrop and covered with small pools, the temple is reached by a series of steps cut into the rock. This Buddhist temple with a Hindu extension is a similar age to the Lankatilake Temple and the Embekka Devale.

Embekka Devalaya (Embekka Temple) was built by the King Vikramabahu III  of Gampola Era (AD 1357 - 1374) in Sri Lanka. The devalaya is dedicated to Kataragama deviyo. A local deity called Devatha Bandara is also worshiped at this site. The shrine consists of three sections, the "Sanctum of Garagha", the "Digge" or "Dancing Hall" and the "Hevisi Mandapaya" or the "Drummers' Hall". The Drummers' Hall that has drawn the attention of visitors to the site, due to the splendid wood carvings[3] of its ornate pillars and its high pitched roof.

Embekka Devalaya is situated in Medapalata Korale of Udunuwara in Kandy district. The easiest way to get to Embekka is coming from Colombo - Kandy main road at Pilimathalawa. There is a clear sign post erected by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka at the start of the road to Embekka. It is about 7 – 8 km (5.0 mi) from Pilimathalawa to Embekka from the Colombo - Kandy main road. On the Daulagala road proceed about a mile and you will come to the Gadaladeniya junction, which you can see the famous Gadaladeniya Vihara right at the junction. Both roads from the junction would take you to Embekka. The shortest would be the one to the right, but if you wish to see the Lankatilaka Vihara you should take the road to the left. If you take the road to the left you can see the Embekka Ambalama just before you arrive at the Embekka Devalaya.

It is said that some of the wood work utilized for the "Drummers' Hall" came from an abandoned "Royal Audience Hall" at Gampola. There is every possibility the hall has seen repairs during the reigns of the Sinhalese Kings of Kandy. The carvings, which adorn the wooden pillars of the drummers' hall, as well as the "Vahalkada" (the entrance porch of the devala, which is said to be older) are some of the best examples of Sinhalese art.

The roof itself has significant features. The rafters all slant from above towards the incoming visitor are fixed together and kept in position by a "Madol Kurupawa", a kind of a giant catch pin the like of which we do not find elsewhere.

Lankathilaka Temple- One of the three main buildings of the Gampola Kingdom, the Lankathilake Temple is about as beautifully preserved as its neighbors at Embekke and Gadaladeniya. However its beauty is on a completely different level, whitewashed with numerous sweeping roofs and incredible in its solidity and powerful structure. The temple itself is set built on the great rock of Panhagala and overlooks Hiripitiya, a small mountain village. It was constructed by the first king of Gampola, Buvanekhabahu IV after shifting away from his ancestral seat of Kurunegala. These Late Medieval monarchs did not always exert power over the whole island though. The Aryachakravarti dynasty held sway in Jaffna and there was a noble chiefdom at Raigama, built by the powerful Alagakkonara family, patrons of the Kelniya Temple and future rulers of Kotte and finally, the whole island for one last time in Sri Lankan history.

It was an uneasy peace, with the country in pieces but the Gampola kings still managed to keep on good terms with their neighbors. Buvanekhabahu’s architect was the South Indian Stapathi Rayar. These kings had a great appreciation of the arts even though they found it hard to exert their military strength all over the country and it shows in the intricacy and beauty of the carvings here. At Lankathilake, there are impressive makara thoranas, having large chimeras with gaping mouths guarding the primary gateway. Of course at present the gate itself is metal, a modern addition to the ancient temple. There are also a pair of lion statues, cut directly into the plaster and on either side of the arched entrance. By looking at the tiled roofs and whitewashed main body of the temple, one can accurately judge how other buildings of its kind might have looked, both religious and secular. Many historical sites are in pieces and thus it is vital to properly preserve this one in order to reconstruct the others, at least in the arts and in our minds.

Gadaladenyia Vihara also known as Saddharmatilaka Vihara or Dharma Kirthi Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in Pilimathalawa, Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located on Gadaladenyia Road (B116), just up from the Gadaladeniya junction of the Colombo - Kandy Road (A1), approximately 12.5 km (7.8 mi) to the west of Kandy and 3 km (1.9 mi) from the ancient buddhist temple, Lankatilaka Vihara. It is considered one of the largest rock temples in Sri Lanka.

The history of the temple goes back to the 14th century. According to historical reports this temple was built in 1344, under the patronage of King Bhuvanekabahu IV, who reigned from 1341 to 1351 A. D. by the Ven. Seelavamsa Dharmakirti. The architecture of the temple was designed following Hindu artistic styles by, Ganesvarachari, a South Indian architect. On the rock outcrop, upon which the temple stands, is a carved inscription regarding the temple's construction. The temple was constructed in the Dravidian architectural style incorporating Sinhalese architecture from the Polonnaruwa era and other Indo Chinese architectural patterns.

Celebrated scholarly monks who have resided at the temple include Sangharaja Dharmakirti II, the author of the Sangharaja-Nikāya (14-15th century)[8] and Vimalakirti hi. The temple was abandoned until King Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha (1707-1739) handed over it to Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero, whose pupils have looked after the temple ever since.

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