- splendour of the Gampola era :
I turned off the main Kandy road, right at the Pilimatalawa junction
and travelled another four kilometres along the Daulagala road via
Gadaladeniya, before reaching the temple I caught glimpse of, atop a
huge rock surrounded by lush greenery.
The majestic Lankathilake Vihare, believed to be one of the most
magnificent architectural edifice in the Gampola kingdom, was built at
the crest of a large rock named Panhalgala overlooking the Hantane
mountain range in the Hiripitiya hamlet in Udunuwara.
The history of the temple dates back to the 14th century, and a
pre-colonial Lanka where several strong kingdoms ruled the land. At a
time when the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom was Kurunegala, that era
drew to a close when the Sinhalese kings decided on setting up the new
kingdom at Gampola, a safe stronghold on the bank of the Mahaweli river.
King Buwanekabahu IV who reigned from 1341 to 1351 A. D. chose
Gampola as his kingdom and constructed this Viharaya with the help of a
South Indian architect Sthapati Rayar. Following Buwanekabahu IV, five
consecutive kings chose Gampola as their kingdom. Though the kings of
Gampola were not powerful warriors, they had a high calibre for art and
culture and have made significant contributions to art.
Among the monuments seen as notable exceptions in existence today are
the Gadaladeniya temple, the Embekke devale and especially the
Lankathilaka Vihare which distinguish themselves. Of these, the
Lankathilaka Vihare stands supreme in its majesty of structure and
In front of the main entrance of the temple stands the preaching hall
thatched with flat roof tiles, as opposed to the ordinary half round
tiles, used to cover the central part of the roof and to create
The main Vihare has been built using granite with a plaster covering,
has three storeys built on natural rock. Elegant architectural design
and wall paintings rich in colours of the Kandyan period, adorn the
inside walls and the ceiling of the main image house.
The two large lion paintings and two figures of guards facing each
other decorate the two walls of the short corridor to the image house.
Inside the image house is a magnificent glory - a twelve-foot high
Buddha image under a beautiful Makara Thorana.
The image house is enriched with five devales devoted to four deities
with separate entrances.