Following the trail from Pilimathalawa


As the year drew to an end, 2011 I asked myself what could be a simple get-away. It should be a simple journey to a place some what familiar, but yet to be discovered. The place that had both and was reachable by a quick drive was Kandy. We took a ride with a friend and got off 10 km before Kandy at Pilimathalawa.

For the first time we were traveling light with few changes and snacks in a haversack. 6.30 am and the town was just waking up. We caught a three-wheeler who drove 7km on the Daulagala road to our first site, the Embekka Devalaya. This is a devalaya, a shrine for god Katharagama built around 1317, in the Gampola kingdom. According to folk tales the devalaya was built by a drummer as a gift to the god for curing him from a terrible skin disease. The king who was ruling at at that time, Wickramabahu 11 donated land, a temple and elephants and the queen, Henakanda Bisobandara is supposed to have helped in build the place. [1] Embekka is a humble little shrine, that has not caught the attention it deserves, and just as well, it stands in it’s own glory. Undoubtedly it has the best wood carvings in the country.

Entrance to Embekke Devalaya

A treasure trove of wood carving can be witnessed by those who visit Embekke. Intricate woodcarving: leafy details running on beams (Liyawel), flowery designs of Lotus and Binara peeking at the edges (Pekada), columns of fine craftmenship of patterns that have since then became famous such as the double-headed eagles, entwined swans (Hansa Puttuwa), Wrestling, Female dancers, designs of mythical origin.

Design of Binara flower on a Pekada at Embekke

Embellishment of Lotus flower, Embekke

Perhaps the most impressive is the ingenuous capentry of fixing the rafters – wooden pin holds 26 rafters without a single nail. This pin which is crafted into a leafy design is  called the ‘Madol Kurrupuwa’.

Pathruliya or leafy designed pin that holds the rafters

The hall is known as the ‘Digge’ is 52 feet long and 25 feet wide. Thirty two square shaped pillars guard it. Various carving adorned these pillars.

Carvings on pillars

Double-headed eagle

To be continues with details on Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya soon!


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