Lankatilaka Viharaya – Kandy
The Lankatilaka Viharaya was built by the king’s chief minister Senalankadhikara. The architect, as named in the Lankatilaka engraving, was Sthapati Rayar, a south Indian. Lankatila Viharaya is built on an irregular stone surface with brick and granite. According to the Lankatilaka copper-plate writing, the original structure was 32 cubits or 80 feet high.
According to the area design, the building is cruciform. The square screen is surrounded by an outer casing wall leaving circumambulatory space along three sides. On the outside of each of the three sides is a niche in which an illustration of one of the traditional gods of the period.
The History of Lankatilaka Viharaya
The roots of Lankatilaka Viharaya date back to the 14th century, when powerful kingdoms ruled the land of Sri Lanka. As the Sinhalese capital shifted from Kurunegala to Gampola, the Sinhalese kings recognized the strategic importance of this safe stronghold on the banks of the Mahaweli River.
During the reign of King Buwanekabahu IV, from 1341 to 1351 A.D., Gampola became the new kingdom, and the Lankatilaka Viharaya was constructed under his patronage. King Buwanekabahu IV enlisted the expertise of Sthapati Rayar, a renowned architect from South India, to bring his vision to life. Gampola remained the chosen kingdom of five consecutive kings, each leaving its mark on the region's art and culture.
Art and Culture in Gampola
The kings of Gampola were known for their administrative prowess and appreciation and support of art and culture. Several architectural marvels from that era still exist today, showcasing the rich artistic heritage of Gampola. Among these exceptional monuments are the Gadaladeniya temple, the Embekke Devale, and, most notably, the Lankatilaka Viharaya.
Architectural Marvel of Lankatilaka Viharaya
One of the critical features of Lankatilaka Viharaya is its unique architectural design. As you approach the temple's main entrance, you will be greeted by the preaching hall with its flat roof tiles, which deviate from the ordinary half-round tiles and create beautiful patterns.
The main Vihare, built using granite with a plaster covering, stands proudly on three storeys, seamlessly integrated with the natural rock formation. Its elegance and grandeur are further enhanced by the captivating wall paintings that adorn the interior walls and ceiling, showcasing the vibrant colours of the Kandyan period.
The Magnificent Image House
Passing through the short corridor adorned with two large lion paintings and facing guard figures, you will enter the image house, where the true magnificence of Lankatilaka Viharaya is unveiled. Inside, you will witness a breathtaking sight—a twelve-foot-high Buddha image placed under a beautiful Makara Thorana, an ornate archway symbolizing auspiciousness and protection.
The image house also houses five devales dedicated to four deities, each with its separate entrance. These devales add to the spiritual and cultural significance of Lankatilaka Viharaya, creating a harmonious blend of worship and artistic expression.
Journey to Lankatilaka Viharaya
To reach Lankatilaka Viharaya, take the road from the Pilimatalawa junction, turning off the main Kandy road. You will gradually approach the temple on a four-kilometre journey along the Daulagala road via Gadaladeniya. As you near your destination, the majestic sight of Lankatilaka Viharaya atop the enormous rock, surrounded by lush greenery, will captivate your senses.
Lankatilaka Viharaya stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. Its awe-inspiring architecture, intricate artwork, and spiritual ambience create a captivating experience for visitors. To truly appreciate the majesty of Lankatilaka Viharaya, one must witness its grandeur in person, immersing themselves in the magnificence that echoes through the halls of this remarkable temple.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Is Lankatilaka Viharaya open to visitors?
- Lankatilaka Viharaya is open to visitors, allowing them to explore its beauty and historical significance.
- What is the best time to visit Lankatilaka Viharaya?
- The temple can be visited throughout the year, but it's advisable to check the weather conditions for a pleasant experience.
- Are there any entrance fees to visit Lankatilaka Viharaya?
- Yes, there is usually a nominal entrance fee to support the maintenance and preservation of the temple.
- Can I take photographs inside Lankatilaka Viharaya?
- Photography is generally allowed, but it's recommended to respect the temple's sanctity and follow any specific guidelines provided.
- Are there any nearby attractions to visit along with Lankatilaka Viharaya?
- Gadaladeniya temple and Embekke Devale are nearby attractions to explore the Gampola kingdom's cultural heritage.