Embekka Devalaya Temple – Kandy


The Embekka Devalaya Temple is found in Udunuwara in the Kandy district. It was constructed during the Gampola Era (AD1357 – 1374) by King Vikramabahu 111 as a house of worship devoted to Mahasen, also recognised as “Katharagama Deviyo”. It is also where local idol Devatha Bandara is revered by devotees.
Embekka Devalaya may be the most suitable place to observe the most fragile wood carvings of the past. The main hall presents a feast for the eyes with columns, pillars, and doors decorated with breathtaking wood carvings. The shelter, too, has its special drawing done in wood. A unique characteristic is that everything consists entirely of wood, with no other elements being used, not even metal. Also, the nails utilised have been hewn out of wood.

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The Legend of the Embekka Devalaya Temple

According to ancient folklore, the temple's origin is closely tied to the life of a humble drummer from Rangama. Afflicted by a skin disease, the drummer sought solace at the Kataragama Temple in Ruhuna, where he prayed for divine intervention. Miraculously, the drummer's prayers were answered and made a remarkable recovery.

To express his gratitude, the drummer embarked on an annual pilgrimage to the Kataragama Devale, where he played his drum as an offering to the deity. However, as old age took its toll, the drummer could not continue his arduous journey. In a dream, God Kataragama assured the drummer that he could pay homage to his village and a miracle would facilitate his tribute.

The Miracle of the Kaduru Tree

The miracle occurred near Embekka when a gardener inadvertently cut a Kaduru Tree while clearing the undergrowth. Instead of the expected milky liquid, the tree bled a vivid red liquid. News of this extraordinary occurrence spread rapidly, attracting curious villagers and the intrigued drummer.

Realizing this was the divine miracle foretold in his dream, and the drummer shared his story with the crowd. In response, a modest Devalaya with a thatched roof was erected on the very spot. Impressed by the successive events, King Vickramabahu III visited the site, further solidifying its significance.

The Construction of the Embekka Devalaya Temple

Upon King Vickramabahu III's visit, the Embekka Devalaya Temple was established. The temple, initially believed to have had three stories, underwent renovations during the Kandyan period and is now a single-story structure. The king also commissioned the construction of statues depicting the deities and donated land for the temple's upkeep.

Poetical Work: "Embekke Varnanawa"

During this era, Delgahagoda Mudiyanse immortalized the temple's history in a poetic work titled "Embekke Varnanawa." This literary masterpiece beautifully captures the essence of the temple's origin and the divine connection between the drummer and the gods.

Architectural Features of the Temple

Embekka Devalaya Temple is renowned for its architectural grandeur. The temple premises encompass various structures, including the Garbha (sanctum), Digge (Hevisi Mandapaya), Vahalkada, Buddha Image House, Palle Devalaya, and Vee Bissa (Paddy Storage). Each building holds its unique significance, showcasing intricate carvings, woodwork, and religious artifacts.

Exploring the Temple Premises

Visitors to the Embekka Devalaya Temple are in for a treat as they enter a realm where ancient legends and artistry converge. The temple provides a serene and captivating atmosphere, inviting pilgrims and tourists to immerse themselves in its historical aura. The sacred ambience and remarkable architecture offer a profound spiritual experience.

How to Travel to Embekka Temple

To reach Embekka Devalaya Temple, travellers should turn right from the Pilimatalawa Junction along the Dawulagala road. Dawulagala is approximately 5 km from Peradeniya town. Visitors will pass two other famous temples along this route, the Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya and the Lankatilaka Viharaya, before arriving at Embekka Devalaya. Along the way, they may also spot the ruins of an ancient resting place called "Ambalama," which predates the temple and shares similar carvings.

Embekka Devalaya Temple stands as a testament to the remarkable history and religious fervour of the Sri Lankan people. Its legends, architectural wonders, and spiritual significance make it a captivating destination for those seeking cultural exploration and religious experiences. A visit to this sacred temple offers an opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of Sri Lanka's past and immerse oneself in the timeless aura of the Embekka Devalaya.



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